Alayne Kay Christian
Award-Winning Children's Book Author
All content copyright 2015 Alayne Kay Christian
ART OF ARC: How to Analyze Your Picture Book Manuscript is an independent study, picture book writing course. It includes 217 pages with ten lessons, seventeen supplements, and eighteen worksheets. Plus bonus materials and resources.
Many courses are taught using the classic arc, but to my knowledge, none of them go into the detail that this course provides. All ART OF ARC beta students who completed the course reported they had learned things that they had not learned in previous courses. In addition, they affirmed that the course shed light on (or enhanced) their understanding of previous coursework.
A LITTLE BACKSTORY ABOUT ART OF ARC
The focus of this course is the story telling structure that uses a classic arc. BUT it also includes other common issues that I've found in the hundreds of manuscripts I’ve critiqued over the years. The reason I've created a course that focuses on the classic arc is because 90% of the stories I critique are built around that structure. Many successful published picture books are built around an arc on some level. It is the number one structure in picture books. Therefore, I believe this course fulfills a need that has not been available until now. Many courses are taught using the classic arc, but none go into the detail that this course provides.
How Art of Arc was born. After critiquing hundreds of picture book manuscripts, I saw the same issues repeatedly. As my professional critiques include mini lessons, I found myself recreating the same lessons but customizing them for the story I was critiquing. There had to be an easier, more efficient way to do this. I decided to put all the information into a book to help my critique clients. I wanted them to have a method of polishing their manuscript before spending money on a professional critique. And more importantly to help them polish their manuscript before submitting it. But what started as a book, evolved into a series of lessons and ultimately this self-paced writing course. Return to top of page
WHY STUDY STORY AND CHARACTER ARCS?
Most stories have some sort of arc. Many successful picture books are built around an arc. Understanding story and character arcs will help give your story order and the tension that will energize it from the beginning to the end. This energy will not only drive your protagonist forward – it will also drive readers to turn pages and keep reading.
The purpose of this course is to deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and to introduce you to many other picture books structures. The course also addresses a number of common issues I have found in the manuscripts I critique.
The objective of the course is . . .
- To give a strong foundation in storytelling that is built around the traditional story arc
WHO MIGHT WANT TO TAKE THIS COURSE?
- Picture book writers who want to develop further and become more powerful and effective storytellers
- Picture book writers who need a stronger foundation in storytelling
- Picture book writers who want to build on what they have learned from craft books or in other courses
- Picture book writers who want a methodical system for analyzing and revising their manuscripts
- Picture book writers who want a methodical system for analyzing mentor texts or their critique partners’ work
- Anyone with picture book manuscripts in need of revision
- Anyone who wants a deeper understanding of arcs, conflict, tension, emotional core and more
- Anyone who is new to picture book writing
- Anyone who has no idea what a story or character arc is
- Anyone who has no idea what episodic stories or cause and effect are
WHAT YOU WILL RECEIVE
- Ten in-depth lessons. You'll receive all the lessons at one time in PDF and MS Word.
- Seventeen supplements with a wealth of knowledge provided in highly detailed examples, diagrams, and information that expands on each lesson
- Eighteen worksheets designed to boost your learning during the course and to use when developing or analyzing future works
- A method for analyzing your own work, mentor texts, and critique partners’ work
- The freedom to work at your own pace
- A private Facebook group for support and further learning
This is a small sampling of the course content. All lessons are highly comprehensive. Each lesson includes homework assignments, worksheets, and extensive examples of each topic being discussed.
WELCOME SECTION This introduction to the course includes an excellent eight-page supplement detailing sixteen different picture book structures. Each diagram and description includes a list of picture books to study for that particular structure.
LESSON ONE: BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS This lesson includes supplemental materials that demonstrate the components of strong beginnings and endings. As with all lessons, the material is highly comprehensive.
LESSON TWO: BEYOND THE HOOK This lesson includes supplemental materials that demonstrate the components of strong beginning and endings.
LESSON THREE: OVERVIEW OF PICTURE BOOK PLOT STRUCTURE USING TRADITIONAL ARC
- Story arc (plot development)
- Character arc (character development)
LESSON FOUR: CAUSE AND EFFECT
- What is cause and effect and why is it important?
- Bonus supplement with links to additional info
LESSON FIVE: EPISODIC STORIES Includes methods for testing your story for episodic elements.
LESSON SIX: THE MIDDLE –
FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD ATTEMPTS TO SOLVE PROBLEM OR REACH GOAL
- How the middle is structured
- Tension and escalating trouble
- Supplemental documents that break down picture books
- Worksheets for analyzing published works and your own work
LESSON SEVEN: DARKEST MOMENT, INNER AND OUTER CLIMAX, ENDING
LESSON EIGHT: SHOWING VERSUS TELLING
LESSON NINE: USING ELEMENTS OF FICTION IN NONFICTION
LESSON TEN: OTHER COMMON ISSUES, BONUS MATERIALS, AND RESOURCES
What makes me qualified to teach this course? The simplest answer is I learned these things through sweat and tears and eleven years of searching for answers. Below, you will find some testimonials and comments from the first group of ART OF ARC students. You will find additional qualifications in the testimonials for my critique service and in my bio.Return to top of page
ART OF ARC is one of the most comprehensive writing classes I've ever taken. It breaks down complex aspects of story structure in a clear manner that helped me to understand every element of picture books, from hook to satisfying ending. The worksheets helped me to dissect my stories and see what they were missing and how they needed to be rearranged, making the revision process a lot less painful. If you want to learn how to develop a great story arc with a hook, page-turners, tension, dark moment, climax, and satisfying ending - this class is for you! Alayne even includes links for writing resources.
– Donna C. - Children’s Book Writer
Alayne has outdone herself with this course; I don’t know HOW she does it. Things I thought I understood about writing picture books are now crystal clear!! Alayne somehow manages to make it simple and easy to understand yet delves deeper into the workings of a picture book than I ever have before, and I’ve studied picture book writing quite a bit! Great information, wonderfully laid out to lead you systematically through analyzing and improving your manuscript. Almost every lesson gives really helpful examples. I loved this course! I’ll continue using it to polish my manuscripts in the future.
– Meg M. - Children’s Book Writer
The Art of Arc course by Alayne Kay Christian will help you answer that question, what am I missing in my picture book manuscript? Alayne’s course is structured well, with solid examples. The exercises can be used to analyze your own manuscript, or take on additional published manuscripts and break them down so you can further gain an understanding of the classic arc of a picture book (as well as identify other picture book structures). The course lessons are the kind I can return and refer to over and over again!
– Poppy Parfomak - Children’s Book Writer
I wish The Art of the Arc course existed a year ago. It would have saved me a lot of time. It gathers a lot of information that new picture book writers need all in one place. Alayne provides so many examples and even includes a few that don’t follow the classic arc. I found the reminders about what the reader should be experiencing at different points in the story especially helpful.
I appreciated how the worksheets made me take apart my own manuscripts so I have a better understanding of why some aspect isn’t working. I’m going to continue using the worksheets to guide my revisions. The Facebook group doing a monthly study of a picture book should help solidify what I’ve learned. Thank you, Alayne!
– Mary Worley – Children’s Writer and Former Librarian
Alayne’s Art of Arc self-paced course not only teaches a writer about story structure but explains the specific parts of a story, in depth, and the importance of why each must be related, relevant, and remain connected. What I learned through her examples and exercises are the specific ways to break down a story using task analysis. This process helps me determine if the reader is “imagining and feeling” the story I want to tell reflected through my writing. As a writer who starts as a pantser, Alayne provided the organization I needed to analyze my own writing.
– Keila V. Dawson, Author, THE KING CAKE BABY, Pelican Publishing Co., January 31, 2015
Alayne distills and clarifies picture book wisdom in a conversational tone. Her writing has earned a place on my reference shelf. Mike Karg – Children’s Book Writer
Art of the Arc teaches you to methodically analyze your manuscript or mentor text, and in doing so, pulls you back as the author to see your story through more objective eyes, able to evaluate it piece by piece. The course is well organized and contains a virtual plethora of resources.
– Beth Anderson – Freelance Writer
This course was so helpful in showing me the areas where my manuscripts were not moving and how to fix that. Studying picture books suggested in the course focused this for me. The great thing is now I’ll be able to use this as I’m writing and, I hope, cut down on revision time. I highly recommend this comprehensive course.
– Carol Crane – Children’s Writer
When asked, “How does this course compare to other courses you have taken?” One Art of Arc graduate said, “I haven’t taken other courses. The best comparison is Ann Whitford Paul’s WRITING PICTURE BOOKS. I love the depth and specificity of both. As with her book, your materials are worthy of re-reads.”
WHAT THE ART OF ARC STUDENTS HAD TO SAY IN SURVEYS
- Lesson one broke things down in a clear way that enhanced my understanding, and I had quite a few aha moments while reading. I also loved the examples!
- Lesson one – Really excellent material, Alayne. Not surprising after receiving a wonderful critique from you, but wow. Fresh. Straight forward. Thought provoking. Idea generating. WOW!
- Lesson one – I feel like you've explained things I've heard before in a way that is clicking better.
- Lesson four – The class is really helping me understand what is missing in my picture books (and what works). I struggled with a story last year, put it away and took it out this week to analyze what didn't work. Now I have some new ideas. I'm looking forward to studying how to keep things interesting in the middle of a PB. That's where my stories seem to fall apart.
- Lesson four – These lessons are excellent. Really clarifying things I’ve learned, but haven’t put into actual practice.
- Lesson 5-6 made me think about making sure that my story moves forward and I like contrasting my story with a published one.
- Lesson 6 made me take a look at one of my manuscripts in a drawer that really needs a WHY behind it. I've know that for a while, but this made me analyze it further.
- You have great examples in lesson 6 and I found that very, very helpful.
- Lesson seven – The way you broke down darkest moment into page sections, and inner climax, outer climax was fantastic. I LOVE this class Alayne. You’ve done a spectacular job with it.
- Lesson eight – You spoke about passive and active in a way I hadn’t heard it before. I love the explanation on when telling language might be appropriate, very eye opening.
- The lessons are very comprehensive and jam packed with useful information. Some people may be able to get through them by just reading them. But for more analytical, perfectionists (like myself), the lessons take a while to get through. Because of the wealth of information you provide (and my learning style) I’m finding it useful to take notes, make diagrams, and sift through my manuscripts, while reading the material, which adds a lot of time. Given my learning style, I would prefer one lesson per week to allow even more time to delve into the material because it is SO HELPFUL!
- You have a way of breaking this out into manageable bites of knowledge to help wrap my brain around. Well done.
- The lessons enhanced my ability to apply classic arc plot elements to my writing.
- After taking this course, I feel I have a better eye for story arcs, extraneous information that bogs stories down, lack of forward movement, how authors keep or do not keep tension in their books, etc. This has helped me as a member of my critique group. I also have a better understanding why I absolutely love certain books and why I’m unimpressed by others.
- The two lessons that I believe will have most impact on my writing are 6 and 9. Lesson 6 helped me tremendously in the area of writing the middle of picture books, keeping tension going, mini-story hooks etc. I loved how lesson 9 highlighted so many important aspects of writing fiction and nonfiction. I know I will use that in the future.
- The course clarified many concepts and provided a lot of aha moments!
- I LOVED IT! And I’m amazed how much information you packed into 10 lessons! I hope my feedback helped you as much as the class helped me!
- You’ve really done wonderfully with this class. Broken it up into manageable, easily comprehensible bites. It’s so easy to understand and follow. And very insightful!
- You did an excellent job of organizing and covering things. I am so impressed by your analytical mind!
- The largest impact on my writing will come from all the lessons applying to the middle of the story… I feel like I have good ideas, good beginnings and even decent endings, but I’ve had a hard time knitting the middle together, building up the tension and emotion that gives the story heart, that special something. If I haven’t learned it from your course, I’ll have to keep taking it until I do, because you NAILED it!!! Return to top of page
- To teach picture book writers some techniques and structures that will improve existing manuscripts and make future writing stronger
- To provide writers with the knowledge and tools to assist in analyzing their own work prior to investing in professional critiques
- To guide writers through a manuscript-self-assessment process that may help prevent submitting manuscripts prematurely
- To show writers how to avoid common writing errors and apply writing elements that will enhance their stories in a way that takes them to a higher level
- To shed light on writing elements previously learned in less-detailed courses
- To expand writers’ ability to revise and polish their manuscripts
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HOW DO I PURCHASE THE COURSE?
You can purchase the entire course for less than some professional critiques. Only $79.00. Click on the following "E-mail me" link below to contact Alayne or order the ART OF ARC course.
For information on how to purchase course contact Alayne by clicking on the "E-mail Me" link above.