Top 5 Writing Tips the Grinch Stole

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Grinch Tips on Character

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Movie

Stop that! You’re too nice to your characters.
The Grinch is despicable and you know it. Did you create nice, wonderful characters? Too bad for you! No one will read it.

Take a page from Dr. Seuss. Be nasty when you create characters. Try different physical descriptions, motivations, typical ways of moving, common phrases and specific actions.

Grinch Tips on Setting

Whoville. What kind of name is that for a town? A memorable one. And the Whos are memorable. Dr. Suess was a genius at creating fictional worlds that are believable.

Take another look at your setting: create a town, populate the town with a mayor, a teacher, families. Now, write a story set in that town.

Grinch Tips on Plot

The Grinch ties his best to ruin Christmas by stealing every THING that relates to Christmas. Things become worse and worse for the Whos.

Make sure that you intensify the conflict of your story. No one will read boring, nothing-happens stories. Burn this into your sense of story: without bad things happening, there is no story. Dr. Seuss intensifies the dilemma by having the Grinch do every despicable thing possible to ruin Christmas.

Grinch Tips on the Blackest Moment of the Story

Popular book for over 50 years!

The moment of Grinch’s triumph is when he watches from his mountain top to see how the Whos react to the fact that Christmas has been stolen. It’s the blackest moment in the history of Whoville. Christmas without trees and presents! Christmas stolen by a nasty Grinch! It is immediately followed by a twist of plot: the Grinch has misunderstood the nature of Christmas and the Whos celebrate anyway. The blackest moment is followed by the highest moment of plot

Dr. Seuss did not try to avoid the blackest moment and neither should you. What is the absolute worst thing that could happen to your characters? Make it happen. Be a Grinch, be nasty.

But also follow that moment with a twist. It doesn’t have to be a complete reversal like the Whos manage to pull off. But it should be a small moment of hope, of defiance against the evil. Slap ’em down and watch ’em get up again. And your audience will stay with you forever (Right, Theodore Geissel?)

Grinch Tips on Story Endings

At the end, the Grinch’s heart grows two sizes larger. It’s a poignant moment of clear character growth and change. The metaphoric becomes concrete.

Draw two columns down a page and label the columns, Before and After. In the Before column, write details of your character in the story’s opening. In the After column, write details of your character in the story’s ending. Make sure there is a sharp difference, a big change. If there isn’t, what changes make sense in the context of the story. Now, revise to make sure the character’s heart does grow two sizes larger!

Winter Writing Lesson Plans for Teachers

In appreciation for all you do for children’s literature, I am offering a free set of lesson plans for Winter Writing with Kids. Based on popular Christmas and winter children’s stories, kids will learn 34 skills of writing.

Download the FREE Winter Writing with Kids 2011 here.

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph: Winner of “The Help” Children’s Story Contest

My story won “The Help children’s story contest! Read more about this family story written by Darcy Pattison.

By the way, there’s an app for the Grinch!

3 Comments
  • julia karr
    November 25, 2011

    This is brilliant! Thanks so much! I am now going off to do the Grinch test on my WIP!

  • Donna Martin
    November 25, 2011

    Darcy, what an absolutely FABULOUS topic and so full of helpful tips! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can you tell I’m eager to improve my writing? ;0)

    Donna

  • Laura Marcella
    December 3, 2011

    This is so great! The cartoon Grinch (voice of Boris Karloff) is my favorite Christmas movie. Love the book, too, of course! Thanks for the Grinchy tips, Darcy. :)

    And congratulations on winning the children’s story contest!