Race Car Dreams
by Sharon Chriscoe
Illustrated by Dave Mottram
2016 Best in Rhyme Award Top 20
See the Top 20 Best in Rhyme Books for 2016
Writers, Start Your Engines!
By Sharon Chriscoe
In many ways writing is like racing. There’s the starting line (the beginning), the race (the middle), and the finish line (the end). If we’ve done our jobs well as a storytellers, our books will zoom right into the victory lane of our readers’ hearts.
One of the most important ways to achieve this goal is with a strong story arc. For us rhymers, there is no difference between a story arc for rhyme versus prose. Story ALWAYS comes first. The rhymes should feel natural, and they should work to enhance your story arc.
Here’s a nice visual I like to use when working on my story arc:
All story arcs begin at the starting line (the beginning), otherwise known as the ‘introduction’ or ‘exposition’. This is where your character, setting, and conflict (or main issue) are introduced.
In my picture book, RACE CAR DREAMS, an adorable little race car is the character, the setting is at the race track where it’s almost nighttime, and his conflict (or main issue) is that he’s tired and ready for bed. Yes, a lot of important details are a wrapped up in these four short lines.
The zooming has stopped.
The sun’s almost set.
A race car is tired.
He’s wringing with sweat.
Once you have your starting lineup set and ready to vroom it’s time for the race (the middle) to heat up! This is the part of your story where most of the action will take place. Here, you’ll include a rise in your action and the climax.
Sound hard? Don’t worry, it isn’t if you think of it this way: When you watch a race, most of those zip-zooming, heart pumping, sitting on the edge of your seat action usually takes place during the actual race. Those exciting moments will carry you all the way up until that checkered flag is just about to drop.
From the moment the cars get their green light, the rise in action develops the conflict through Why and How.
In RACE CAR DREAMS, the Why is that His day has been filled with high octane fun. The how, is He hugged all the curves. He’s had a good run. See, a rise in action develops the idea that he’s tired from racing.
Once your character is speeding around the track, spend a little time there. Make several laps, give your audience (readers) an exciting race! Like any good race, problems arise, detours are needed, and roads get bumpy. But the trick is, don’t linger there too long.
Keep up the excitement without letting it go on endlessly. The rule of thumb is there are usually three obstacles to overcome during the race (the middle). As in all rules, sometimes they can be broken but the ‘Rule of Three’ is a wonderful balance to try to achieve.
In RACE CAR DREAMS, my little race car is tired and ready for bed. But in order to get to that sleeping point, he must first wash his rims, fill his tummy with oil, and choose a book that’s all about speed. See, ‘Rule of Three’ even in a bedtime story.
With all three of these goals achieved, it’s time for the most exciting part of the book. The climax! This is where your turning point will take place. You know, like when that trailing race car vrooms past car after car near the end of the race, putting the crowd on their feet as he’s about to zip past the finish line! Or in the case of a bedtime book, a little one’s heavy eyes are finally ready to close.
In RACE CAR DREAMS, with his heater warming his grill, his book closed, and his wrench snuggled, the little race car’s turn of events is that now he’s finally ready to drift off to sleep.
This shifts our gears directly into the finish line (the end). ‘The end’ comes in two parts and happens very quickly. The first part is the falling action, where any conflicts, questions, and further character development is wrapped up.
This provides a relaxing, soothing moment for the reader to take a break from all the action. In a race, this would be the moment when no matter how fast other cars throttle their gas, it’s clear that the winner is literally inches away from the checkered flag, and the finish line.
Or in RACE CAR DREAM’S falling action, he’s ready to cross the finish line . . .straight into dreamland! His engine now hums. He lets out a snore. His bumpers relax and sprawl on the floor.
The final part of the finish line (the end) is the resolution, which is well, where the story ENDS.
The resolution should always leave the reader satisfied. Much like a race, not every reader has to be happy with the outcome. Some may wish that Race Car had never went to sleep and instead he vroomed into town to zip and zoom down the streets all night long.
The point is, the story concludes with a satisfying ending where:
He zips and he zooms
sweet dreams of the race.
He vrooms to the front . . .
. . . and takes home first place!
Sharon Chriscoe may not vroom around a race track, but she does zip and zoom around in a bread truck with her husband, Ricky. Fueled with fresh bread, snacks, and writing tools, Sharon has made this her mobile office! She and her husband live in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. They have three adult children and one adorable grandchild, as well as an assortment of dogs, cats, bunnies and occasionally a groundhog. In addition to RACE CAR DREAMS, she is the author of BULLDOZER DREAMS (Running Press Kids, 2017), FIRE TRUCK DREAMS (Running Press Kids, 2018), and THE SPARROW AND THE TREES (Arbordale Publishing, 2015). She is also a contributor to several magazines such as Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. To learn more about Sharon, her books, and future events, visit her website: www.sharonchriscoebooks.com
RACE CAR DREAMS, Running Press Kids, 2016
BULLDOZER DREAMS, Running Press Kids, 2017
FIRE TRUCK DREAMS, Running Press Kids, 2018
THE SPARROW AND THE TREES, Arbordale Publishing, 2015
74 thoughts on “Rhyme Revolution 2017 Day 5 ~ Sharon Chriscoe ~ Writers, Start your Engines!”
I like the reminder that rhyme has the same story arc as prose, it’s challenging but what makes rhyming so much fun. Thank you for the tips on building a great middle, not too fast, not too slow, but thrilling!
I like the idea of a little car racing to dream. This is a good example of how the pacing of good rhythm and rhyme can move the story right along!
Sharon, thank you for explaining the ‘Rule of Three’. I’ll have to keep it in mind when writing.
This was a great lesson on story ARC thank you.
Sharon, thanks for sharing some important information with us in your post! I appreciate the reminder that rhyme or prose–the story comes first.
What a great way to talk about the story arc, no matter what you write. Congrats on all your books. Thanks for reminding us story comes first.
Another wonderful post filled with great tips I’ll be using. Thanks, Sharon! Love your Race Car Dreams story.
Thank you so much Sharon for laying out so beautifully the arc of your story. It’s really getting me thinking about places in my own rhyming story where I took too much time on one segment of that arc which slows down the motion. Very helpful!
What a fun way to talk about story arcs! I loved the comparison to your book, and can’t wait to start my own writing engine up for the day! Thanks, Sharon!
Hi, Sharon! Great post. I love the analogy between a book and a car race. You make the process seem so easy and organic.
I can’t wait to read RACE CAR DREAMS. Thanks!
Sharon, Thanks for sharing the arc of Race Car Dreams! I’m curious about your title THE SPARROW AND THE TREES – a story with no wheels. 🙂
Thank you for explaining the rule of three and story arc, I often struggle with that. Great post!
In the rule of three: thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Thank you for sharing Sharon- your story sounds so adorable. 😀
Love the race car analogy! Thank you for your clear explanation of story structure
Sharon, this was a thoughtful discussion of an arc that may not be as easily visible. Sounds like a wonderful book for easing into bedtime!
Great post, Sharon! The arc is more challenging to spot in some bedtime stories, but your explanation makes it easy to understand. Thanks!
Thanks, Sharon. Can’t help wondering if Bread Truck Dreams is in the works.
The all important arc–thanks for the great example!
I love how this helpful guidance is wrapped inside the package of a race car analogy. It fits so well, and I can really relate to the suggestions. Thanks so much!
Sharon, I LOVE Race Car Dreams. It’s beautifully written. Thanks for breaking it down for us today. The way you did it is very helpful.
Proud to call you a fellow Tarheel!
Sharon, what a clever way to talk about the story arc. Super creative! Thanks for sharing.
Wow, I love the analogy of race car driving and story making! Thank you for such, clear and practical advice. All your books win the race with flying colors! Congrats!
Thank you, Sharon, for your creative way of explaining story arc by using RACE CAR DREAMS 🙂 I enjoyed the race from beginning to end!
Thank you, Sharon, for your awesome explanation of story arc as a race, with a distinct beginning, middle – that doesn’t zoom by too quickly, and end. I look forward to reading Race Car Dreams.
Thanks for the Rule of 3 information. Great post.
Thanks, Sharon -your book is a joy!
Such a fabulous way to remember the important stages of plot arc! Thanks so much for sharing your process, Sharon! Patti Richards
Thank you for your post on story arc using your book! It totally helped make the points. I am anxious to look up all your books. The sound wonderful!
Reblogged this on Sensibility and Sense and commented:
Another great Rhyme Revolution post! Author Sharon Chriscoe shares her plot arc process:)
LOVED this book. There’s a fabulous review of it over at my blog!
Sharon thanks for giving specific useful writing tools. Thanks for the reminder of how the ending must be satisfying.
“For us rhymers, there is no difference between a story arc for rhyme versus prose. Story ALWAYS comes first. The rhymes should feel natural, and they should work to enhance your story arc.” Very useful reminder–it’s so easy to get carried away by the rhyme!
Thanks for great tools and a great metaphor. I can’t wait to read your books!
Congratulations on all your upcoming books! RACE CAR DREAMS sounds like a fun book. Love the analogy of story arc and racing!
Comparing story arc to a race… I’d never thought of it that way but it works. Thanks.
the book The Sparrow and the Trees… I need to check that one out. I love both birds and trees.
A car raace is a great metaphor for explaining story arc. Thanks for the insight. I can hardly wait for Airplane Dreams.
Thanks for sharing! Your Race Car Dreams sounds like a winner!
i love the rule of three (conflicts) and that the story comes first, before rhyme.
Thank you for your inspiring analogy.
SHARON: CONGRATS on your MUCH DESERVED AWARD! I CAN’T WAIT to read and study your books–and especially to get to know your little racecar a little better (TOO CUTE! I LOVE THE IDEA!)! And THANK YOU for the reminder that “Story ALWAYS comes first. The rhymes should feel natural, and they should work to enhance your story arc.” Sounds simple, but we need this reminder SO MUCH!!! THANK YOU!!!
This ties in perfectly with a session I just attended this morning about writing picture books. Story arc, plotting, characters, setting – all are important and necessary to good books. Great job! Thank you! Story does come first!
Thank you Sharon for this great post. I love the practical examples from your book. Comgrats.
Thanks for this post, Sharon. I really appreciated your using examples to help us grasp your points, too. Your books sound adorable.
Thank you, Sharon, for the reminder to keep our action moving and exciting by answering the why and how questions all while making problems, detours, and bumpy roads for our characters. Congratulations on your upcoming books! Happy Rhyme Revolution Day 5 🙂
Congratulations on your publishing successes, and thank you for a great post!
Such a fun analogy! And a great way to keep the story arc strong. Can’t wait to read Race Car Dreams!
What a cute analogy for story mapping, which is a great tool for managing the pacing of a story! I was just mapping out events for my current draft, so I really enjoyed reading your insights on ensure each piece of the story gets its own time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and congrats on your success! I have a nephew who’d love this book!
Love the analogy – and the story! Thanks for this great advice.
Thank you, Sharon, for this perfect example of the arc.