Start journaling your heart out today. Have your very own Journaling Kit™ shipped to your doorstep...FREE!

E-books Workshops
Free Course
Support Us
Founded April 2000. A Writer's Digest Magazine 101 best Web sites for writers (2001 & 2003)
Outwitting Writer's Block by Jenna Glatzer
E-book Secrets Exposed
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles

Buy a novel by Lucille Bellucci at and receive these .pdf bonuses:

  • 17 Ways to Make Amazon Your River of Gold
  • Make Money with Radio
  • Success Bound
  • Book Promotion: NOT for Sissies
  • Harvey Mackay Rolodex
  • Top 20 Talk Radio Topics
  • Harrison Bonus
  • Million Dollar Rolodex

    E-mail Lucille at lucil95783 AT aol DOT com to claim your bonuses.
  • Write Any Book in 28 Days... Or Less!
    Write Any Book in 28 Days... Or Less! New course reveals fresh secrets. Click here to learn more.

    The Secret Behind Creativity REVEALED! It's all in the brainwaves. Find out here!

    EasyEbookPro Books

    Click here to advertise with us for 2 whole months for only $35!

    Home Articles

    Writing for Children: Throw Obstacles at Your Characters

    Successful children's fiction begins with the main character. Many writers create a biography or detailed character sketch, listing every physical and personality trait imaginable, so they have a clear picture of who their character is. Then they give their main (and important secondary) characters a list of goals. What does he/she want to accomplish? What does he/she need to do in order to grow as a person? The goals must be believable within the realm of who this character is. These goals are as important in picture books as they are in novels. How your character reaches his large and small goals provides the bare bones of plot.

    But in order for a story to be really interesting, your character can't just think of a goal and then effortlessly reach it. As a writer, it's your job to throw obstacles in your character's way. By developing obstacles that make sense, you add conflict and tension to the plot. If you progressively raise the stakes for your character throughout the story, you'll keep your readers turning pages to see what happens next.

    The first obstacle your character will encounter is that of the critical situation.

    This is the point in the beginning of your story at which the character's life changes. Without this critical situation, the character's life would have gone on as before; but with it the character is forced to experience the story's events and challenges. This critical situation should relate directly to the character's goals, creating major shifts in the character's life. Once you select the critical situation, get out your list of goals and select several that lend themselves to creating opportunities for relevant obstacles throughout the story. Some of these obstacles can be developed into sub-plots. For example:

    • Does the character have to be somewhere at a specific time? Make him late, or make him miss the appointment altogether.

    • Does the character need to find something? Make the search difficult or fruitless.

    • Does the character need to communicate with someone? Have the note destroyed by weather, stolen by a bad guy, or misinterpreted by the receiver.

    Does the character need to be alone? Make sure she's surrounded by people.

    When developing an obstacle for your character to overcome, you can examine the obstacle from various perspectives:

    1. The character can experience the obstacle himself, or choose not to experience it, which might result in different problems. For example, your character may experience bicycle trouble, making him late to a vital class or appointment, or he may choose not to participate in a family gathering or holiday celebration.

    2. The character can be the victim of the obstacle, with the obstacle being done to or used on the character, which requires a reaction from the character (i.e. your character may get ambushed by the neighborhood gang).

    3. The character can witness something which provokes a reaction, decision or conflict. For example, she may witness a robbery by the neighborhood gang, but some of the members are her friends and she must decide whether or not to report the incident to the police.

    Another way of creating obstacles is to ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What could go wrong when trying to achieve or obtain the goal?

    2. Who or what could hinder progress toward this goal?

    3. When could things go wrong? Name the worst times.

    4. Where could things go wrong? List a location and three obstacles that could occur.

    5. How could things go wrong? List the process or sequence of events, or the mechanisms involved.

    Also think about the obstacle's placement in the story. What needs to happen before the obstacle takes place so it can have the most dramatic impact? What should you foreshadow? And what information does the reader need to make this obstacle interesting and believable?

    Finally, does anything about this obstacle lead the character into the next goal and the next obstacle? Ideally, the character runs from one problem to another until finally he either succeeds or fails at his goal.

    Remember, for an obstacle to work it must be logically and intricately connected to everything else that's happening in the story. But that doesn't mean it has to be predictable. The obstacles can be humorous, suspenseful, and above all, surprising. Then you'll have characters your readers will want to root for.

    Copyright © 2000-2001 Laura Backes

    Laura Backes is the author of "Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate to Read" from Prima/Random House. She's also the publisher of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers. For more information about writing children's books, including free articles, market tips, insider secrets and much more, visit Children's Book Insider's home on the web at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between

    Journaling Kit - Four Journaling Books to help you put your life and memories on paper


    The Web
    This Site

    Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    Creative Nurturing of the Writer Within

    6 Approaches to Journaling

    21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Muse

    Imagery in Writing


    Children's Writing
    Freelance Writing
    Science Fiction & Fantasy
    Technical Writing


    The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publishers Won't by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

    Home | Articles | Columns | Workshops | E-books | Free Course | Quotes | E-zines | Top Fives | Support Us
    © Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ & The e-Writer's Place.
    Materials appearing in this Web site are owned and copyrighted by their respective authors and/or writers. Please read our Privacy Policy and TOS. No part of this website may be reproduced without consent from its owner. Original site design by Shery Russ. Hosting & maintenance by
    WriteSparks! Lite free software for writers
    Our sister sites: | | | | | | | | Writers Web Designs | | Aspiring Authors | Books | | | | | |