Network News: Plotting and Pacing in the North-east

Maureen Lynas
Meeting up with the NE regulars is always fun but it was great to see some new faces too as we gathered in York on 1st March for my workshop on The Seven Steps to Plotting and Pacing.

The Seven Steps of Plotting and Pacing
I love to analyse writing, illustrations, and film, so I was looking forward to helping people to discover, and begin to apply, the patterns that exist in children's literature. But first of all I had to admit I'd found another step so the workshop had to be renamed The Eight Steps to Plotting and Pacing, which is very annoying because I liked the alliteration of the s's and p's.

We began with an analysis of the images in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are which is where I completely confused one attendee who later admitted she was experiencing an Emperor's New Clothes scenario, nodding her understanding so as not to look daft. Thankfully, by the end of the day she was nodding with real understanding and could see how to apply the steps to her own work. Result!

Where the Wild Things Are
Having analysed images we then went on to look at how the steps are used in older fiction. We took an event in JK Rowling's Harry Potter – the moment the death eaters enter Hogwarts through the vanishing cabinet. The actual event takes place off camera in the books (it is seen in the films) but the steps are there, beginning in book two and ending in book five. You just have to know what you are looking for.

How the steps are used in older fiction.
Then came the application process. We split into three groups.
Picture Books.
Middle Grade
Working in groups
We created simple plots using the Eight Steps. Well, some people did, some plots were more complicated than others and some were just very silly (in a good way!). We had kids saving the world, kids learning to hug, kids discovering magical items, and a monster with a very visual and entertaining problem.

All sorts of kids
Then we began the process of applying the steps to our own work. This could take some time. Weeks. Months. Years. So I'll have a break while that happens.
Definition of fun : A SCBWI BI NE meeting.
Definition of lightbulb moments: A SCBWI BI NE meeting.
Definition of learning: A SCBWI BI NE meeting.
Definition of The Writer's Journey: A SCBWI BI NE meeting.

Definition of fun?

Maureen Lynas is the north east co-ordinator for SCBWI BI. She is the author of the Florence and the Meanies: Cupcake Catastrophe! and a Funeverse poet. She is also the creator of the Action Words Reading Scheme.


  1. Thanks Maureen. This was a brilliant workshop and I've been concentrating on using the elements in my writing for the last two weeks!

    1. Excellent! Have you driven the family mad yet by pointing out the steps in film and TV? It's fun.

  2. Maureen, you are a woman of integrity - I'd have stuck to seven steps and squished to together for alliteration's sake!
    (How far South would you dare to go?)


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