Writers since Aristotle have tried to define what makes a story work. Some have argued that good stories are character-driven. Others have said that they are plot-driven. And still others have avoided both terms and contended, for example, that good fiction is “moral” – it tells a story but doesn’t “just” tell a story. It serves a higher purpose. Chris Van Allsburg made this comment in talking about his most famous picture book, The Polar Express:
“A good story uses the description of events to reveal some kind of moral or psychological premise.”
Chris Van Allsburg www.chrisvanallsburg.com in The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators (Houghton Mifflin, $17, paperback), edited by Anita Silvey.
Comment by Janice Harayda:
What makes a story work for you?
On Saturday I’ll be reviewing Van Allsburg’s underrated The Z Was Zapped, and I came across his quote while doing research for that post. If you know this immensely gifted artist only through The Polar Express, you’re missing some of his best books. Please check back this weekend then if you’d like to know more about why critics regard him as one of our greatest living author-illustrators.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.