Are you in the process of writing a Christian book for children? Once you have decided on your protagonist’s key goal, work towards strengthening everything that takes them there (one conflict after another), and avoiding/removing anything that doesn’t serve to move the plot forward.
Simple, eh? Well, OK, it can take some thought, and some practice!
First, you need to decide what the key goal is. It could be that your character becomes a detective or world-saver, and by the end of the story the riddle is solved, crime uncovered, spy apprehended, aliens despatched back from whence they came . . . or it could be a more subtle ‘key’. Perhaps your protagonist is fearful of everything and feels hopeless and trapped, but by the end of the story he finds courage and hope to face the future. It could be both! Often in Christian children’s novels there is both an action-related and a spiritual/moral goal.
Your protagonist might not know what their goal is, of course. It may be that at the beginning of the story he has no idea that God exists, but by the end of the story he has discovered that he has a Father in heaven who cares for him. (This happens in ‘I Want to Be an Airline Pilot’ by Mary Weeks Millard.) Perhaps at the beginning of the story he thought his goal was to be a millionaire, but by the end he realises that’s not all there is to life. There are endless possibilities, as endless as human imagination!
If you already have a manuscript, take a long, hard look at it. Does your protagonist have a key goal? Or possibly, what is your key goal for him? If there is no clear goal, do you think he or she needs one? Once you’ve thought that through, go back to the first paragraph and see what needs strengthening and what needs cutting!
If you’re not really sure what I’m talking about, here’s a tip to help you: read a selection of children’s novels and decide what the protagonists’ key goals are. (You can buy Christian books from your local bookshop or from the Dernier Publishing website: www.dernierpublishing.com.) Have the authors managed to keep your interest while their protagonists are reaching their goals? Tuck away your thoughts somewhere safe, so you can learn from them!
In the meantime, enjoy a bit of goal setting, see where it takes you. 🙂
P.S. New photo of me because my little doggie isn’t feeling so good and can’t make it to the office at the moment. 🙁