Craft talk with Laura Obuobi: Increasing Tension

Photo of Laura Obuobi and Caroline in IG Live conversation

Photo from IG Live conversation on 12/14/20

What a jam-packed conversation around increasing tension in picture books with the brilliant Laura Obuobi! Laura talks us through an advanced picture book writing course in under 20 minutes— a true educator and artist in every sense of the world.

Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom she shared:
🧨 Tension is uncomfortable but necessary, like how a diamond is made under pressure. It evokes empathy, character growth and desire and moved the story forward
🧨 Obstacles are key: internal obstacles (e.g. self-doubt, fear, insecurity, discomfort), external obstacles (e.g. friends, family, tech, a social norm that doesn’t sit well with your character) or a combination of the two
🧨 Tension and character desire are inextricably linked. It drives the page turn appeal and spurs the reader to invest fully: will the character get what they most desire?
🧨 Key strategies for increasing tension include escalating cause and effect, as well as the “Rule of 3s (or 7s)”
🧨 Torture your character: consider what can get worse, and then make it so. As Laura points out, it’s a bit like 2020…!
🧨 Let your character (rather than adult) solve their own problem and relieve that tension

Laura, I am incredibly grateful that you took the time to share these jam-packed insights with us. I will come back to your words and book recommendations time and time again. For those who aren’t already, hurry up and follow @lauraobuobi for her own exciting book updates and resources for stories written by BIPOC authors. Also, please reach out if you’d like to discuss @vcfawcya!

For quick reference, here are the books discussed in today’s talk:
BLACK GOLD by @lauraobuobi, illustrated by @london.ladd
THE RED HAT by David Teague, illustrated by @bathingonthemoon
I WANT MY HAT BACK by @jonklassen
DREAMERS by @yuyimorales
ISH by @peterhreynolds
FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by @rgregorychristie
WAVE by @suzyleebooks

(Conversation held on December 14, 2020 on IG Live @carolinepritchardwrites)

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