Many children and even teens like to write picture-book fiction with animals as major characters. The tips here also can inspire writing for more in-depth fiction animal stories.
With Palm Sunday and Holy Week/Easter soon approaching, let’s use as our guide, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw, written by multi-award-winning author, Josie Siler.
A variety of story frameworks lend to beautiful stories. In this one--
7 Tips to GET ROLLING…
1. There is a cute donkey colt. Place the most important character center-stage at the beginning of your story. Use pictures and words to make this character someone the readers want to know more about.
2. Next, make the animal’s problem loud and clear… in this case, a “broken” hee-haw! When Howie tries to hee-haw, like all the other good donkey-folk do, his only comes out Hee-haw-hee-ha-la-la-lay-lu-yaaa. Can you see where this is going? And don’t young readers love to make animal sounds!
Okay, so he has a problem. Now what?
3. Show how the problem is making life hard for the character. Show how the main character feels about all this. You want your readers to connect on some levels and care about your character and the problem. Help your readers identify with some of the frustrations and make connections with troubles in their own lives.
4. This is a good time for the young writer to restate the big problem/challenge. Show the struggle with trying to do right (hee-haw “correctly”) and not knowing what to do.
5. Usually, this character needs to have a hand (or hoof) in fixing the problem, usually a big hand, but when writing with a Christian perspective we know the even Bigger Hand, and yes! Jesus helps Howie with his “problem” along with Howie. Stay tuned to read how.
Young Christian writers can strive to show this God-given grace in their stories, too.
6. Now is a great time for the character to share the problem with someone trustworthy. Howie laments while his mom listens and tries to reassure him. Young writers should pick a wise soul appropriate for their story. Here is a nice place for the character to feel better…but the problem still lurks.
7. By the way, with animal stories, it can be charming to include other animals in the illustrations and story. Sometimes Howie is seen with a cute chick and chicken.
2 Tips for the BIG CHANGE OF SCENE…
1. Now the action picks up. Life comes in full force. In this case, Howie and his mom are being tethered by two men who lead them on a journey… The writer can make this transition from known to unknown by building in suspense. What will happen next?
Show that the main character is on a MISSION.
2. They are brought to Jesus. The coming-to-Jesus scene here is especially precious because Jesus tells Howie, He needs Howie’s help. The readers’ own souls can awaken here. How does Jesus need their help?
And they can super relate when Howie responds that he is not worthy. Even Moses was worried about speech problems when God summoned him to go forth! Don’t we all have our issues of feeling inadequate? But with God…
2 Tips for the BIG AH-HAH MOMENT…
1. Make it an important discovery that helps your animal character grow stronger and wiser. The beautiful message in this story is that Jesus tells Howie He needs Howie’s special hee-haw. You know, the one Howie thinks is his big problem…
2. Make the BIG AH-HAH MOMENT fill your readers with joy. The message to the readers is that we are each created just the way God intended and God has special plans for each and every one of us.
I am excited for your young writers to see what Ah-Hah moments they create with their stories.
Please encourage them to pray to God about this.
Howie is “only human” and is still afraid that others will laugh at him. Jesus is about to ride on Howie as He enters Jerusalem and cheered on by a great crowd of palm branch wavers. But Howie finally understands that he was made to praise Jesus.
AREN’T WE ALL!
2 tips for the EXCITING, SATISFYING ENDING…
With some encouragement from Jesus, Howie bellows his hallelujah bray as he transports
Now Howie is brave, and onlookers do laugh…but with delight, as they shout out their hosannas.
1. Writers should show how their character has solved (or learned to live with) the big problem and be better for it…brave and courageous, wiser, or whatever character traits they are aiming to present.
2. The problem resolution should be great for the character and very satisfying for the readers. There should be special sparkles at this moment that also encourage the readers for challenges in their lives.
2 tips for A GREAT TAKE-AWAY…
1. Create a special message in the story that readers will want to remember and hold close to their hearts.
Howie learned--He was intentionally created, and for a purpose.
Readers should appreciate this about themselves, too.
2. As in this story, young writers can add a special prayer at the close of their stories, for their readers to pray for their own lives. Words such as …I want to be wise and use the special talents You have given me…
May you all have a great and lovely journey helping children and teens write fiction stories, with a Christian perspective!
INVITATION TO SHARE
If your young writers would like to share their animal stories that include a Christian viewpoint, I invite you to send them to me by July 1st. I am sure it would be fun for us to see some of these in an upcoming post. You are invited to send these via the contact page on newSongpress.net. We look forward to seeing these stories!
I invite you to tap below to connect to book sales
for the title featured in this post.
Josie Siler’s award-winning children’s picture book (for ages 2-7),
Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw
is a superb Easter-time book! Plus, it makes a sweet touchstone book for discussions with older youth.
It is available at End Game Press, Christian Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
May Joy & Peace with God be yours,
Victor Survives Being a Kid
Writing about animals and pets can be very rewarding for children and teens, and can spark their imaginations for adventure or adorable, heartwarming stories, and true tales of investigation.
For this post, I have interviewed a multi-award-winning author, who writes with a focus on animals. Here’s what she shares about helping children and teens write—with a Christian perspective and to include animals in their writing. The tips here will be for nonfiction. An upcoming post will address advice for fiction writing with animals.
Denise Lee Branco, author of Rabbit at the Sliding Door: Chloe’s Story and Horse at the Corner Post: Our Divine Journey, writes true animal stories to honor these marvelous creatures. She says,
"Every animal comes into our lives for a reason."
Ms. Branco encourages young writers to write about those special reasons for the animals in their lives.
Before young writers take pen to hand, Ms. Branco suggests handling a pet’s favorite toy, collar, or looking at photos, such as pictures from the adoption day, to remember special scenes to then write about.
It helps to have a theme. Ms. Branco is an ardent animal advocate.
Her theme is the...
Ms. Branco encourages young writers to develop each scene based on the writer’s theme.
Her goal is to help others grow in respect and appreciation for God’s wonderful animals.
Ms. Branco's theme, “animal-human bond,” focuses on this goal of appreciation, so readers see how beautifully people can be connected to animals.
So, one of her key writing strategies is to…
This is a good strategy for young writers to intentionally use, too.
For instance, if a child has been in the hospital, how did the child feel and what did the child do when finally arriving home and being greeted by a family pet?
Facts also can help readers appreciate these stories better, by getting an overall view. Young writers may want to use an Internet search engine to gather statistics about their animals of topic and include some important facts in their writing. Your local SPCA, BestFriends.org, and Rabbit.org may be a good place to start, says Ms. Branco.
She also encourages young writers to write a “Gratitude Letter” to their beloved pet. It is good practice for children to learn to write what they appreciate or love about an animal and to explain why.
Young writers can find ways to also express their thankfulness to God for His creation and how their special animals enrich their lives.
Many churches have a special service each year for the blessing of one’s pets, both big and small. Children may be fascinated to attend such a service in your area, and then write about this experience. In early October, in honor of Saint Francis, (patron saint of animals), Christian churches worldwide bless animals and have special prayers for creation.
INVITATION TO SHARE
If your young writers would like to share their writings about animals that includes a Christian viewpoint, I invite you to send them to me by July 1st. I am sure it would be fun for us to see some of these in an upcoming post. You are invited to send these via the contact page on newSongpress.net. We look forward to seeing these stories!
Author Denise Lee Branco invites readers to go to www.DeniseInspiresYou.com where you can order her books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and also purchase autographed copies directly from her.
Her books make beautiful gift books for teens and young and older adults!
Would you like to see more blog posts like this, to help young people in your lives have fun writing and include a Christian perspective?
I invite you to click here to go to www.newSongpress.net and sign up on the home page for my periodic newsletters.
May you all have a great and lovely journey in helping children and teens with nonfiction animal writing, with a Christian perspective,
Victor Survives Being a Kid!
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