"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Dilemma

Last summer, I had the privilege of attending the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference (WIFYR) with the amazing Martine Leavitt. I learned so much during that week, that months later, I'm still processing all the wonderful information.

One of the things that impressed me the most was when Martine taught us the principle of "the object of desire." What does the main character want? Is it clear on the first page? On the first chapter at the very least?

Ever since, I haven't been able to read a book or watch a movie without looking for the main character's object of desire, or the dilemma.

My first grader brought home a story that he wrote at school.
I'm going to transcribe it here (misspellings and all) because I think it's a great example of showing the main character's dilemma.

If my mom and dad were snowpeople I would cook and do the dishes.
I would make a igloo for the snowpeople. 
If my mom cook she would melt.
If my dad stayed inside he would melt.
If I stayed with them I would be a snowman.
I am so sad.

First of all, allow me, AWWWW.  Isn't it cute?

Okay.

Can you see the main character's dilemma? The parents would melt if they stayed with the boy, in the house. If the boy stayed with the parents, he would become a snowperson too.

I wish I learned this in first grade too :-)

What do you think? Do you think it's important to know the dilemma in the first pages? Why? Why not?