Aug 30, 2010

Learning Writing from Classics

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Last week was Book Week at my girls' school. There were many fantastic costumes and some representing current release books. But, most kids seem to dress up from stories that have been around for some time. Dorothy, Tinkerbell and Pocahontas made an appearance. My youngest went as Alice and my eldest pleased me greatly by going as Miss Marple (she's just discovered Agatha Christie mysteries and loves them). 

Writers of contemporary children's fiction can learn a lot about what entices a reader from the classic narratives. Sure kids like stories they can relate to with contemporary problems (are these really any different from problems of old?), but books like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Agatha Christie's mysteries, obviously posses a formula worth researching.

For my current WIP, The Warracknabeal Kids, I'm being inspired and educated about young boys' fiction by Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and To Kill a Mockingbird. Have you read any classic fiction to inspire your current work?
"Oh dear, where's my magnifying glass?"
"I think you dropped it down the rabbit hole old lady."


  1. I think the classics really influenced my stories. In my mysteries, Agatha and Doyle really showed me character and plot were important and I try to adopt a lot of their writing ways in my books.


  2. They looks so cute! I love that your older chose Miss Marple.

    I don't know that I make a consious effort to look at classics, but there are definitely stories that resonate with some of my stuff--most recently, my YA could take some hints from a story like the Outsiders.

  3. The classics are great. One of my all-time favs is Tale of Two Cities by Dickens.

  4. Clarissa - Yes, those two do show the perfect structure for mystery stories. And Doyle has a great protagonist with plenty of skill and just the right amount of flaw.

    Hart - OMG, I love The Outsiders.

    M Pax - Dickens is the original source of dark humour, good pick.

  5. Though I’ve read these books, it’s been quite a few years (okay, a few decades). I do think it would be fun to reread them, but there are just so many new books to read, too. It’s a real dilemma.

    Love the Alice and Miss Marple costumes.

  6. I started to read some classics that related to my WIP but I stopped because I didn't want them to influence me too much.

    I loved the three you mentioned though. All great stories and great characters.

  7. Your daughter look great, so cute!
    I do think they influence us and there is a style about them a formula if you will. I think it is a great time to revisit them!

    Fun post! I love it when schools really encourage reading in this way!
    Bringing stories to life~
    One of my dreams was to have a bookstore like this...more than take a look inside a book!

  8. I think the classics have to be an influence. These are the books that weren't just the flavour of the month, they hung around and withstood the test of time. There is definitely something to be learned from them.

  9. I meant daughters! They both look great~