26 July 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Used Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak with a group of 15 8 - 10 year old kids. 7 kids opted for private secretaries made up of teen volunteers and other Friends of the Library board members. One of the seven needed brainstorming support only. The other six benefitted from someone else performing the fine motor skills necessary to actually write the story down on paper. Whether they wrote the story themselves or used the help of another, all the kids finished stories in 2 1/2 hours which will now be made into a book by a local publisher for the kids and local library.

Where the Wild Things Are is a classic example of the Universal Story (the paradox of life = that which is simple/small is actually huge. That which is big is actually not much at all.)

The Beginning (1/4) introduces Max, establishes his goal = to be a wild thing, shows his flaw = stubborn and belligerent, and strength = enormous imagination.

The End of the Beginning (page twelve of 37 pages) occurs when his bedroom is no longer a bedroom but a forest. 

The Middle (1/2) begins at the precise moment Max undertakes his journey. In the Middle, Max encounters antagonists = dragon of the sea, rough water, Wild Things. The entire middle (6 pages), has no text and shows the unusual, exotic world in which Max now resides = Wild Things making wild rumpus.

Crisis ensues ((3/4 mark = page 29) when Max turns lonely and longs to be where someone loves him best of all.

The End (1/4) begins when he smells good things to eat from far across the world. Though his new friends beg him not to leave, off Max sails.

The Climax comes one page before the end of the book when he is able to shed his wolf suit (metaphor for his wildness) and settle down enough to eat his dinner (something he was completely unable to do at the beginning of the story. He needed to go through everything he does in order to gain the skills necessary to appreciate his ordinary world.)

Simple? Yes. Timeless? The book has lasted for 46 years and the movie is soon to be released.

Sometimes we as writers make things too hard. This simple story is about character transformation which is the basis for every great story. Analyze the plot and structure of your story with this in mind. Hope it helps simplify the underpinnings so you can work your magic in the details.