Mystery of the Soul Part 3

In general, the various branches of parapsychological study related to the soul are Near-Death Experience (NDE); Out-of-the-Body Experience (OBE); Biomagnetic Radiation/Field (aura); Hauntings; Posessions; Bilocation; Past-Life Regression, and ESP.Many instruments and methods are used in the investigation of psychic phenomena. Hypnosis is often used to uncover subconscious knowledge on a subject. Such a method has been successful in regressing a person to a past life and even between lifetimes. Much knowledge related to the after-life and the soul’s continued existence have thus been acquired.Unorthodox methods that purports to contact disembodied intelligence might include séances, the Ouija board, the planchette, automatic writing, and the pendulum; some of these methods are similar to the Indonesian Jailangkung and Nini Towok.One of the former presidents of the Society of Psychical Research, C.D. Broad (1887-1971), believed that paranormal research might eventually prove that psychological events can survive bodily death. He theorized that man had an invisible constituent; this he called the psi-component, or “psychogenic factor.” Ever since the days of Broad, parapsychology has indeed made much progress.METAPHYSICAL VIEWPOINTSWhen we speak of the viewpoints of metaphysics questions might arise inquiring of the source of these teachings. Generally speaking, the tenets of metaphysics are derived from the esoteric transmissions of lofty beings to select members of the human family. These beings have already evolved far beyond the human kingdom and its pinnacle–the perfect human being as portrayed by the archetype Adam Kadmon. These teachings are based on their personal experiences and awareness of the Truth of all things. Some of the students of these lofty beings were able to verify, again by personal experience, part of the teachings that was conveyed by these Spiritual Masters. This would leave aspects of metaphysical teachings as theoretical or hypothetical from the student’s perspective.There are also metaphysical teachings that have been formulated by students intellectually without knowing its truth experientially before-hand and may consequently be without a foundation in reality. This is the reason why certain metaphysical doctrines are ever-evolving. May the reader ever keep this in mind.From the superficial investigation of metaphysical conceptions one comes to the conclusion that they are as diverse as the many theories developed by science or theology; however, in essence they all share a common thread in that the soul, the spirit intelligence, is regarded as being a distinctive part of the human organism and has a divine origin. One of the most basic fundamentals in contemporary metaphysics is that there is only One Substance, One Power, One Life, One Mind, One Law in the whole Universe, and each being in its innermost “I AM” core, is part of that One. The other laws and principles of metaphysics stems from this basis. The above statement is not entirely accurate, however. We referred to the One as being in the Universe, when in fact, it is entirely opposite. The Universe is in the One, or is a partial manifestation of the One. To the metaphysician, everything has a divine origin and is essentially eternal. We emphasize the word “essentially,” for there is a difference between form and expression, and its divine essence. For instance we may liken the essence with electricity, the form-the electric bulb, the clarity and power (wattage) of the bulb its expression. Electricity is indestructible, so is the Spirit, the divine intelligence in man. The bulb, the form of man, is ephemeral in nature. The clarity and the wattage, the power that it gives off, is the evolving aspect of man called the soul. The clarity is dependent upon the purity of the bulb, or the soul. It is often tainted by dust and dirt–or the negative emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. This illustration would indicate that the Spirit is immortal, the form transient, and the soul that aspect of the microcosm that seeks to ever grow spiritually until it is aware of its essential nature. By being aware it becomes immortal, meaning that it is continually conscious of its essential nature. The soul, therefore, is only potentially immortal.After making our statements above, it should be understood that the soul-concept is ever-evolving, whether from the scientific, theological, philosophical, or metaphysical point of view. One could argue that truth is changeless and that what was true in the past is likewise true for the present and the future. We concur with this, but the problem here is man’s understanding of truth, and the presentation of truth, and not truth itself. Metaphysics may be understood intellectually–this has its limitations; or it may be understood mystically–this provides real knowledge that the intellect has trouble analyzing, formulating into ideas, and putting into words.One school of metaphysical thought believes the soul to be a function or development arising out of the vital life force that animates all living forms. This vital life force permeates the whole universe. Matter is evolving to the point where it may support life while living organisms evolve to the point where they may eventually support the development of self-consciousness, and this we call “the soul.” However, this does not signify that souls are dependent upon matter for their existence. They are associated with the vital principle of the universe. Some scientists regard the universe as a living organism, or a living thought rather than something lifeless or mechanical. The soul or self-consciousness may be regarded as a higher expression of the life-force that permeates the universe. This signifies that the soul is a dynamic potential inherent within energy. As energy is indestructible, so is the soul in its essence indestructible. As energy is kinetic, forever in movement, so is the soul never the same in its expression–it continually evolves.Esoteric teachings classify the microcosm into, three, five, or even seven aspects. In the threefold division we have Personality, Soul, and Spirit; or in Indonesian we may say Jiwa, Roh, and Sukma–but keep in mind what we have said before that there is no standard agreement as to the terms used. Sukma may be called “Ingsun,” “Atma,” “the Self,” whatever. Terms are not important in this context, principles are. In the Judaic Qaballa, the threefold microcosm is designated as Nephesh, Neshamah/Ruah, and Yechidah. In Buddhism as Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya, and Dharmakaya. In Theosophy as Personality, Ego, and Monad. In Hinduism as Rupa, Jiwa, and Atma. In ancient Egypt as Khat, Ka , and Ba.
These threefold divisions have subdivisions. In certain Hindu teachings they are subdivided into five. Theosophical and Rosicrucian teachings divides the microcosm into seven:[Please visit this page for table: http://www.indotalisman.com/mystsoul.html]In the Rosicrucian system, the Divine, Life and Human Spirit may be considered as the Soul. The Monad as the Spirit, and the other lower components as the Personality. Each of these components of the microcosm reside in their own plane or dimension, and they are composed of the substances of their respective realm. Each has its own particular function in the operation of the microcosm. Each component vibrates at a certain frequency. Vibrations may be perceived as sound, light, or hue. The seven components of the microcosm, therefore, collectively produces a musical chord, or as a certain color–the conglomeration of all the colors of the components. This collective sound or color may be said to be our “soul” name. This sound may be dissonant or harmonious depending upon one’s soul-development. Each microcosm vibrates at a different frequency; there are no two microcosms quite alike, just as there are no two snowflakes of the exact same pattern. Each component of the microcosm has its primary faculty. The intellect is the faculty of the Lower Mental, the imagination of the Higher Mental, the Intuition of Buddhi, and Inspiration of Atma.Since this is not a thesis on the occult anatomy of man we will not delve too deeply into the subject, suffice to say that there are many more components in the microcosm than what we have referred to above that are vibrating at a frequency undetectable as yet by our modern technological instruments. However, we will discuss a little so as to give a brief picture of man’s hidden composition.Aside from the seven major components in man, the microcosm, there is also the thread that connects them all. This is called the sutratma. Forces and impulses from the highest aspect of the microcosm flows to the lower aspects via this connecting bridge. Our reaching up towards our divine Source builds another bridge called the antahkarana. This antahkarana grows from the lowest aspect of the microcosm and eventually anchors itself to the Monad.The etheric body of man is constructed out of “lines of force.” These are the counterpart of the physical nervous system. Where they criss-cross a power-spot is formed. These are the acupuncture points, the minor and major chakras, and the tan-tiens. Certain energies from external sources accumulate in the etheric body of man. Kundalini is one of them. Kundalini is the cosmic fire, the force that has the power to purify and awaken the lower energy structures of the microcosm. When it awakens it flows through certain pathways of the etheric body. There are various main channels associated with kundalini awakening.Another vital aspect of the microcosm are the seed atoms. These atoms are records of the evolutionary development of the soul, physically, emotionally, and mentally. They also store our karmic tendencies, expressions, and records. Though each of the seven components of the microcosm has its seed, only three are normally considered in esoteric writings. These are the Physical Seed-Atom, the Emotional Seed-Atom, and the Mental Seed-Atom. Each of these seed atoms has its position in the physical body. The mental seed atom lies in the pineal gland, and this is where our consciousness is seemingly focused. As can be seen from this, Descartes was not entirely wrong in presuming the pineal gland to be the seat of the soul.As we said before, the seeds are records. They may be thought of as our recording angels. They record our every thought, feeling, and action. Our karma are stored in these seeds as well, and from time to time, when the time is ripe, they release the effects of the karma that we put into motion in our past. The timing of this is determined by a higher aspect of the microcosm, the Ego and our Solar Angel in conjunction with the advice and decree of the Lords of Karma–those beings that assists humanity in balancing and harmonizing all karmic actions.The pineal gland is also the host of other spiritual components, and this is what makes it the most important gland of the endocrine system. The pineal and pituitary glands are psychic complementaries and their harmonized functioning results in a more perfect human expression. They are there not merely to secrete the known hormones but they play an important role in occult physiology. We regret that very little can be said in this paper.Within the physical heart lies a spark of the Ego, the Soul, or the Higher Self. The Upanishads refer to this as the “Supreme Person, the size of the thumb.” This spark is threefold in nature, in has three aspects-power/will, love/wisdom, intelligence/activity. They are represented by three colours-blue, pink, and yellow, respectively.According to mystical thought the physical body is the temple of the soul, and although religion is in agreement, many religious persons have turned their temple into a tomb, with its occupant dead asleep in the darkness of ignorance. Outward ceremonies, forms, and rituals are actually devoid of any true spiritual benefit when mechanically conducted. They may please the emotions but they deceive devotees into believing in their piousness. The outward forms are merely signs of spiritual realities within. It is by understanding and living these realities that one progresses in a true religious sense. For instance, formal religion may ask us to pray once a day, or five times a day; but in true religion we have to be in a constant state of prayer, “25 hours a day, 8 days a week.” Prayer is a certain mental attitude and awareness. It is not in requesting something but accepting that all that we could ever ask for is ours and is being done to us right now. Succinctly, Religion is Mysticism poorly understood as Science is its child that is undergoing a maturing process. More could be said of this but we would stray too far from our main subject.Origin of the SoulMan’s innermost being is the Monad. This is the SELF, the God within Man. Its nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda–Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss. The Monad is a spark of the Divine Flame which is the One Existence. The Monad is not a creation, it is an emanation. It is God individualized within the microcosm. The Ego, or the Soul, is in turn an emanation of the Monad, and the Personality an emanation of the Soul. It is the Soul that “creates” the physical body.All things are manifestations of the One. IT manifests as energy. Energy is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. It is indestructible and eternal. Man, like everything else is made up of energy. He has certain magnetic fields and structures all composed of energy. The Monad within man qualitatively speaking is of God, is God. Quantitatively, the Monad is but a minuscule fragment of the infinite whole. When man is aware of his divine SELF-nature, he experiences the inner essence, the God within and thus declares “unification” with his Source. He realizes that essentially he is “God”–however, keep in mind that this refers to the God nature within and not to God’s totality, to the essence of man and not to his physical form or false ego. Like Jesus Christ he affirms: “I and my Father are one.” This is not blasphemy as theology might teach us. It is the recognition of the love of our Source who has bestowed ITs very being upon us. IT has given us ITs identity. This whole notion might be incomprehensible to some, nevertheless, it is a Truth experienced by mystics of all generations and cultures. There is no separation between God and Man, between God and the Universe. God is immanent within all, and also transcends all. The forgetfulness of this divine union is Man’s fall from divine grace. Man ate the forbidden fruit of intellectual knowledge and has forgotten his essential nature. This densified his being and he was made to wear “animal skins,” that is, the physical body. Man’s innermost being is Light, but because of ignorance he fell into the lower dimensions. Each dimensional descent enshrouded his light with a thicker and thicker vestment until finally he wore animal skins in the three-dimensional world and entrapped himself in matter–the most stupid part of the Mind as Leibnitz said. Man’s original sin is the sin of ignorance and forgetfulness. He who will hear let him hear!Purpose of the Soul: EvolutionChange is one of the laws of the universe, it results in the cycles of creation/destruction; involution/evolution, etc. The Monad, a spark of the One, is in essence divine. It possesses a divine collective consciousness without any particular awareness of individuality and separation from its Source. However, it was emanated by its Progenitor for a purpose. As a focus point of the One Being it was manifested so that the One could experience various aspects of Itself, to grow in awareness of ITs inner potentiality, nature and power. In order to do that it had to further densify ITs being to the lowest possible dimensional reality. This is the act of involution. Thus, the Monad issued from itself a threefold-Soul which in turned manifested the four-lower bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and lower mental. Having undergone the involutionary cycle, man is now on the upward path. Humanity is presently on the path of evolution as a continuance of its soul-journey and purpose. Along the path of evolution humanity’s consciousness grew through various lower consciousness levels typified by the consciousness of the minerals, plants, and animals, until finally it attained human-consciousness. What is the end of the soul’s journey? It probably has none. There is no end to evolution in the school of life, or spiritual and cosmic growth. We could say that the end is to merge with God but that is only half the truth. Words cannot express what goes on beyond that, neither can the intellect conceive. Absolute Inertia does not exist in the universe. Galaxies are born, and galaxies die, this goes on eternally. By attaining God-Consciousness, or a higher consciousness level, one goes on to even more lofty spiritual heights that are beyond human understanding. The human kingdom is not the ultimate achievement, infinite possibilities lies before the evolving soul. With God all things are possible–and God partly lies within our being experiencing all things through us. We concede that what we have said above is not easily assimilable and is controversial; however, realize that we do not force ideas upon anyone. It is rather difficult for us to convey abstract ideas with words, therefore, a debate upon this is needless. What we have explained above is simply the main points regarding the soul’s purpose and its cosmic trek, and is not to be considered as the whole-truth. It is merely a partial revelation. The whole subject of the soul’s purpose would take us deep into the study of cycles, rhythms, spiritual races, etc.There are two aspects of evolution: the evolution of form and the evolution of consciousness; and also two factors regarding the soul to consider: soul essence and soul expressions. When we speak of evolution we refer to the consciousness aspect, and the expression of the soul of its innate divinity.It takes a complex nervous system and brain to support a higher expression of the Soul, or the sense of Self; and an even greater unfoldment is required for the sustenance of a higher form of consciousness called “Christ Consciousness” or “Cosmic Consciousness.” This is, however, related to organic development.The evolution of Darwinism refers to the form aspect of life and need not be considered further in this paper except to say that what Darwinism refer to as evolution might simply be a case of adaptation or genetic mutation.Above we mentioned “soul-essence” and “soul-expression.” The soul’s inner essence is God-essence. It has all the powers, virtues, potentialities of God inherent within it. All of God’s attributes are encoded within the fundamental nature of the soul, just as the human blue-print is encoded in the DNA of every cell of the physical body. Though the soul’s inner nature is divine, its expression or personality is ever-evolving. While incarnated in physical form the soul has a dual task of removing the stains accumulated upon its personality, and of awakening its inner divine being that its expression would reflect the perfection of its essence.Copyright © 2006 Luxamore

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Writing Children’s Stories

INTRODUCTION:While fiction and nonfiction books inform, entertain, teach, and influence adults, their children’s counterparts change and mold who children are and become and therefore carry an additional responsibility.”As adults, we are used to the inaccuracies, distortions, half-truths, and white lies served up in print,” according to Jane Yolen in her book, “Writing Books for Children” (The Writers, Inc., 1973, p. 3). “We read cynically, with a kind of built-in despair we sometimes disguise as sentimentality… We are already changed, you see.”Children, having yet to lose their innocence, read with an open heart and a pure soul, which exudes trust, truth, love, and unquestioning belief. It is that belief that provides the essence of their imagination, enabling them to create the world in their heads that they think reflects the one on the outside of them.”… The elements of good writing for children are the same as those of good writing for adults,” Yolen continues (ibid, p. 3). “At times, however, their application needs to be adjusted for readers with more limited knowledge and experience.”HISTORY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE:Children’s literature can trace its roots to the books that first appeared in Western Europe. Childhood, then not considered a separate development stage, was viewed as belonging to “small adults” who still needed to be guided and instilled with the proper morals.”Until recently, a common characteristic of juvenile books in all cultures has been the didactic quality, using entertainment to instruct readers in ethical and social behavior,” points out Connie C. Epstein in her book, “”The Art of Writing for Children” (Archon Books, 1991, p. 6).The still-undesignated genre emerged for two reasons. Certain book subjects and styles, first and foremost, became popular with younger readers, and publishers, secondarily, realized that there was commercial potential in producing them, thus sparking a separate genre.Very early, but later-famous titles included Aesop’s Fables, written by William Canxton in 1484, “The Hare and the Tortoise,” “Ol’ Yeller,” “Tales of Mother Goose,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Gulliver’s Travels,” and translations of “Grimm’s Fairytales” from the German and “Hans Christian Anderson” from the Danish.As children’s literature evolved, it increasingly assumed a fantasy theme with such classics as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” of 1865, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”,” The Wind in the Willows,” “Winnie-the-Poo,” and “The Wizard of Oz.”Another emerging approach was that of realism, which enabled authors to explore and capture the lives of real people. Well-known titles include Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Margaret Sidney’s “The Five Little Peppers” of 1880, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House in the Big Woods” of 1932.One of the principle distinguishing characteristics of children’s literature is its dual-artistic make-up-that is, it features both text and illustrations. The earlier the intended age, the greater is the percentage of the latter.”Not only has children’s literature produced fine writers,” explains Epstein (ibid, p. 5), “it has produced a home for gifted graphic talent. Throughout the history of the genre, illustrations and design have been considered an integral part of writing for the young in contrast to the largely decorative function they served in the production of adult books. At times, in fact, the pictures accompanying a story have proved to be more memorable than the text… “It was not until 1918, or more than a century ago, that the Macmillan Publishing Company established the first separate and purposeful juvenile editorial department and public libraries created dedicated children’s rooms not only to display books, but in which to hold readings and other events.DUAL APPEAL:While adults browse bookstores and Internet websites for titles that spark interest in them, children’s literature is not necessarily purchased, at least in the early stages, by the readers themselves. Instead, it must first pass the “parent and librarian tests,” as both buy what they believe will serve the educational and entertainment needs of young people and they, in turn, determine the accuracy of those who represent them. Based upon age and developing personality, they may or may not agree with their purchasers.Age also signifies an additional parameter. If it is early enough, “reading” may entail an act done to them, not by them.READERSHIP DIVISIONS:Genres are as widely varied for children as they are for adults and include picture, how-to, social science, pure science, and biography books, as well as fictional teenage stories and novels. The author, however, needs to make additional determinations before he undertakes such a juvenile project, including the following.1) Targeted age group.2) Chosen genre: fiction, creative nonfiction, pure nonfiction, poetry.3) Subject.4) Length: This varies from 1,500 words for picture books to 50,000 words for novels without illustrations.While there can also be variations between age group designations, the following can serve as a guide.1) Beginning Reader: Books appropriate for this group are generally the picture type, are read by parents, teachers, and librarians, and facilitate the learning process by incorporating participation that enables readers to repeat words and sounds to foster learning.2) Middle Grade: Books for this 8- to 12-year-old group, which can offer widely varied subjects, can span between 10,000 and 30,000 words, be subdivided into chapters, and contain few illustrations.3) Older Readers: A third longer than middle grade books, older reader literature, for those on the threshold of the teenage years, can encompass a wide range of subjects, particularly in the fictional genre, but often focus on the changing relationships between boys and girls and can feature peer group themes. The author, however, must become well versed in age-appropriate actions, concerns, speech, and expressions to create believable plots and characters. Phrases such as “That’s so cool” and “That’s so rad” can quickly change with age and progressing generation.CHILDREN’S BOOK TYPES:Tantamount to writing effective literature for children is the ability to understand and capture the age-appropriate perspective of the intended reader. This workshop discusses picture books, story books, concept books, alphabet books, familiar-theme stories, campfire tales, and fantasy stories.PICTURE BOOKS:As its designation implies, picture books are visually appealing to children because of their abundance of illustrations, which both tell and support the story with the actual text whose word count is usually low. This type of literature, perhaps more than any other, may leave the author with the dilemma of being both a writer and an illustrator, the latter of which may be beyond his capability, thus leaving him with the choice of hiring a collaborative artist or hoping for a traditional publishing house contract, in which case the graphics are created in it.Because of the prevalence of pictures, it is often wondered if this genre constitutes a book with illustrations or a collection of illustrations supported by words.”Essentially, there are two views of a picture book,” according to Yolen (op. cit., p. 22). “The fact is that it is a palette with words. The second is that it is a story with illustrations. People who ascribe to the first view are artists. Most writers subscribe to the second. Both are correct.”Collaboration, in which a fusion of the respective artistic talents occurs, is the key to the genre’s quality. And while the textual author may not be an illustrator himself, what he writes is still, in essence, his story and he needs to provide input and direction.There are three fundamentals to producing such books.1) Simplicity: Because of their readers’ undeveloped minds, they must incorporate a single, simplistic idea and not multiple ones. Early-age understanding and conceptualization is limited.2) Structure: Book lengths are equally limited, usually spanning between 32 and 48 pages of text and illustrations and include the title, the copyright, and the dedication. Pictures should illustrate the story’s action.3) Readership: Picture books must first appeal to the parents and librarians who purchase them and then to the children who will either read them or have them read to them.STORYBOOKS:”The storybook tells a small tale in a few words,” advises Yolen (ibid, p. 29). “It is simple, but not simple-minded. Fairly direct, it usually has a small cast of characters, and runs no longer than 15 type-written pages… (It) can be full of magic or mystery or nonsense.”CONCEPT BOOKS:Concept books deal with ideas, problems, and concepts in a creative manner that both amuses and teaches children within the kindergarten to third grade range. Entailing a specific concept, which is then expanded, they can discuss and illustrate such topics as what is time, what is the difference between big and little, what is rain, where do animals sleep at night, and where does the sun go after dark.ALPHABET BOOKS:Although alphabet books are ideal introductions for beginning readers and for describing and illustrating something as basic as their A-B-C’s, they sound deceptively simple. Yet doing so effectively and creatively may be more difficult than envisioned.In their very simplest form, they feature a capital letter and a picture illustrating the word that begins with it on each page, such as “A for apple” and “B for boat.” But as a book, it should incorporate a collective theme or some aspect which strings the alphabetical lessons together. If it entails animals, then the letters should represent them, as in “A for aardvark” and “B for buffalo,” and can be supported by prose or poetry lines like “Aardvarks’ noses are odd, like the length of a rod.”FAMILIAR THEMED STORIES:Although antiquated and medieval story themes that include conquered dragons, fought battles, maidens won, and chivalrous deeds are not applicable for modern readers, many of their aspects and characters remain valid if the author remolds them and gives them a current plot. Refreshed, they may still incorporate the same morals and lessons, however.”Folk stories and fairytales are a way of looking at life, and they carry important messages to the conscious, pre-conscious, and subconscious mind… ,” according to Yolen (ibid, p. 52). “They offer new dimensions to the child’s imagination, suggesting to him images with which he can structure his daydreams.”"Great Hall” stories are those in which the hero or heroine experiences one magical adventure after another in search of a particular reward and are not unlike those characters in modern times who pursue a path, often paved with internal and external antagonists, to achieve a specific goal or dream.These Great Hall stories usually have tag openings, such as “Once upon a time.”CAMPFIRE TALES:There are four types of so-called “campfire tales.”1) Cumulative stories: Ideal for very young readers or listeners, cumulative stories, which are simplistic in nature, are often read so many times that children begin to memorize them, resulting in classics. Examples include Henny Penny and The House that Jack Built.2) Talking animal tales: The three integral elements of such tales, which include the likes of The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff, are animals that speak with human voices, a simplistic lesson that results from them, and great fun for early readers.3) Silly tales: As its name implies, this type of story usually features a numskull character who does something so outrageous that it ends up being comical. A tale written by Ann McGarren, for instance, involves a man and his son who seek to trade their donkey at a nearby fair, but are unable to figure out how to get “the item” there.4) Magic tales: Characterized by enchantment, magic tales incorporate witches, wizards, giants, ogres, magical animals and objects, and wise men and women, but the author must infuse them with an innovative or fresh angle, since the theme has been exhaustively used.FANTASY STORIES:Fantasy stories can be categorized by those which begin realistically, but quickly merge and morph into strange, astonishing, or dreamlike adventures.In an essay entitled “On Fairy Stories,” J. R. R. Tolken, of “The Hobbit” fame, wrote, “Fantasy involves the sub-creative art that is a secondary world in which things happen with arresting strangeness.”"Fantasy and poetry are natural for children,” stresses Yolen (ibid, p. 53). “The world itself is new to them. A literature which celebrates newness is as natural to them as the world itself.”Echoing this sentiment, C. S. Lewis wrote, “The fairytale is accused of giving children a false impression of the world they live in. But I think no literature that children could read gives them less of a false impression. I think what professes to be realistic stories… are far more likely to deceive theme.”There are three basic fantasy story types.1) Earthbound: Although, as the designation suggests, the story’s action takes place in the “real world,” one or more of its characters may be fantastical and possess beyond-human capabilities. Consider “Mary Poppins” and her surreal powers.2) Fairy: Named after the mythical land where fairy creatures allegedly dwell, all actions take place in this extra-terrestrial setting. The Hobbit is an example of one of these tales.3) Tourist: A character from the ordinary, earthly world travels to another time, place, or even dimension, and all his experiences and adventures play out there. Two notable “tourist” books include The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.FANTASY STORY CHARACTERISTICS:There are several characteristics to fantasy writing.1) Belief: The author and reader alike must have an unquestioning belief in the story, its setting, its characters, and its plot. “You just surrender yourself to your fantasy, if only for the time you are writing it,” advises Yolen (ibid, p. 57).2) Aspects: There are several aspects that enhance the created fantasy.a) Place, first and foremost, must be compelling and provide a distinct visual image in the reader’s mind, so that he can immerse himself in this mythical, magical world. One technique for doing so is substituting common terms with fantasy-evoking ones, such as “tunnel cupboard” or “wizard’s warren,” along with descriptions that transfer this imaginary location from the writer’s to the reader’s mind.b) The characters, secondly, must represent radical departures in name, physical description, action, and even language from the average person.”Where a realistic novelist might get away with a sloppy physical description, a hasty pan across the features of a major player, the fantasist must work in careful close-ups,” advises Yolen (ibid, p. 62).Would you, for example, know what a hobbit looks like without having read the book by the same name?Because characters do not exist in real life, both the magic and method of recreating them in the reader’s mind is through vivid detail. These details will transcend their physical descriptions, however. The author must fully conceptualize their nature-that is, their personalities, motivations, strengths, deficiencies, and quirks, or how and why they are the way they are. A hobbit, for example, is a home body and loves to smoke, drink pints of beer, and tell long stories.Fantasy characters may shake when they become wet in rain storms or tremble when they see their reflections in mirrors. As occurs in other books, fact or fictional, there may be both good protagonists and evil antagonists in the writer’s mythical land. Most importantly, these characters must be illustrated through communication means, mannerisms, actions, and ways of living and being.”Toto,” Dorothy said after arriving in the Land of Oz, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”Your story should not take place anywhere remotely resembling it either.c) Style, the third technique, should include word play and sometimes even poetry. Consider the following line. “An old turtle teacher’s name was Tortoise, not because he was one, but because he taught us.”"The writer lights many candles in a good fantasy novel,” according to Yolen (ibid, p. 67). “The shadows they cast in a child’s soul will last for the rest of his life.”NOVELS:Novels are longer stories spanning up to 50,000 words, with developed characters and plots, subdivided into chapters. But the main character, or protagonist, plays a more important role in them than in adult fiction.Because the young reader invariably identifies with him if he is of the same approximate age, this should be the guiding rule for the writer who elects to undertake such a project. How he behaves, thinks, and feels, based upon his home life, experiences, personality, and present development, is integral to how he deals with and reacts to the story’s characters and events. Indeed, character and plot are so inextricably tied, that the former should give rise to the latter as a natural extension.”The fact that characters have a life of their own also means that characters are plot,” according to Yolen (ibid, p. 91). “A certain kind of person will respond to stimuli in certain ways. Putting a person under a microscope is essentially what a good novel does. The way your selected person moves is a goodly portion of plot.”NONFICTION:Like other genres, nonfiction requires additional skill, since the research and presentation of facts must be coupled with age-appropriate language and structure. The younger the reader, the greater must be its creativity in order to hold his interest, often requiring a unique angle. There are numerous nonfiction subjects. Four have been discussed below.1) Biography: The most effective way to produce biographies for young people is to explore the human being behind the mask of history.2) History: Histories require the connection between past and present events. “A steady development of events or facts makes for a steady reader,” advises Yolen (ibid, p. 83). “If you allow yourself many digressions or detours or irrelevancies, your book will be too complex for even the most sophisticated reader. Like a good mystery book, the good historical nonfiction book unfolds tis clues.”3) Science: Effective science book writing entails age-appropriate language, presentation, pictures, and examples that directly involve the reader and the use of metaphors, whose images enable him to relate unknown concepts with those that are. A computer program, for example, can be considered the “recipe” that the computer itself follows.4) How-To: How-to literature can include cook- and craft books, whose cornerstone is simplicity, clarity, and precision. Every recipe or project must be presented with easy-to-follow, sequential instructions.FIVE TOOLS OF WRITING:There are five tools that can significantly enhance the writing of children’s literature.1) The Five Senses:The five senses, including sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, not only provide the channels through which readers can vicariously experience a book’s settings, characters, and scenes, but they are particularly important in creating realism to beginner and early ones. They both identify with the characters and forge a connection with them when their feelings and reactions are similar to their own.”For those who want to write for children, remembering to include sensory detail in their work is especially important, because it is the essence of childhood,” points out Epstein (op. cit., p. 16). “Impressions are strongest when experienced for the first time, and the child is bombarded by a new sensation in the course of growing up.”2) Setting:Along with characterization and plot, setting is one of the three major narrative elements. It both affects the characters’ personalities and the plot’s action.”All settings, no matter how unremarkable, can be made individual, and skillful visualization is not only essential for authenticity, it fixes what is happening to the reader’s memory,” according to Epstein (ibid, p. 28).Dramatic effect is achieved by describing a setting with the largest impressions and then progressing to the smallest.There are three potential story settings.a) Landscape or the outdoor environment.b) Indoor or interior surroundings.c) The cultural background and customs of the characters.”Background gives the reader something to look at, establishes atmosphere, and helps make a story emotionally strong.” (Epstein, ibid, p. 39).Consider the following short passage.”When Jonathan woke up, he knew something was not right. There was no light coming through his curtains. His room was dark. His mom did not yell for him to eat breakfast. There was no smell of bacon. He slowly got out of bed and tiptoed to his curtain. Peeking behind his curtain, he saw mounds of snow piled outside. There was no chance that school was happening today.”3) Dialogue:Age- and personality-appropriate dialogue, coupled with action and sometimes personal thought (interior monologue), is the principle way an author can create characterization and demonstrate it to his readers.”Speech is an essential part of storytelling, bringing immediacy to a scene and revealing character,” wrote Epstein (ibid, p. 41). “For one thing, it suggests how old a young person is, and writers for children should spend considerable time matching vocabulary with the age of the child being portrayed… Nothing punctures the plausibility of a children’s story quite as fast as a youngster speaking in the formal phrases that a middle-aged teacher might use… “Because of the rapid development of children, it may not always be possible to employ exact words and phrases. Instead, the author should express their attitude, viewpoint, and approach, and be aware that there are significant differences between dialogue involving those who are five, ten, and fifteen.Speech also varies according to culture, family background, and geographic location. A seven-year-old from Massachusetts, for instance, will speak differently than one from rural Iowa who grew up on a farm, and their vocabulary will be specific to these environments.As with adults, dialogue becomes the secondary expression of personality-that is, it reflects if the character is shy, angry, agitated, introverted, happy, accepting, loving, or aggressive.4) Characters:Characterization entails expressing personality and individualization through physical appearance, mannerisms, speech, actions, feelings, reactions, and interior monologue. Although personality is in the process of being developed at young ages, it is still present. People may be fact-oriented, interested in sports, warm and supportive, humorous, combative, or avoidant, and these aspects can vary according to circumstance and mood.Actions, even of a simple nature, demonstrate this. A confident, smart student, for instance, may immediately raise her hand to answer a question in class, while an insecure one may become flushed and hide behind a textbook. The former may sit in the first row and the latter in the last.Everyone has a unique way of negotiating life and fictional characters should be given theirs.”To create full characterization, the writer blends speech, unspoken thoughts, and actions together, exploring amusing and touching contrasts that make up an individual personality,” according to Epstein (ibid, p. 53).Because this applies to children’s literature, their personalities should be appropriate to their ages and the circumstances of the plot.Main character or protagonist creation can be augmented by determining the conflicts he must deal with-that is, with himself, with others, with a social or peer group, or with the environment.5) Plot:An inciting incident that places the main character or protagonist in the midst of change and sparks his need for something; the sequence of events, illustrated in scenes and employing both expository and narrative writing, he must negotiate; a climax; and a resolution are the basic elements of a plot.”Whatever the subject, (plot) should offer interesting possibilities for action, dialogue, and description, so that the writer can work on developing all three aspects of a scene and realize the full dramatic impact,” advises Epstein (ibid, p. 67).Creation of plot structure can be aided by considering the following four aspects.a) Urge: What is the protagonist’s need or goal?b) Barrier: Who or what stands in the way of his need or goal?c) Struggle: What are the obstacles and conflicts, both internal and external, that the protagonist must overcome to achieve his goal?d) Resolution: How, why, and when does he do so?GUIDELINES FOR WRITING CHILDREN’S STORIES:1) Determine your targeted age group.2) Understand the children’s book market: Once you have determined the age range for your story or book, it must be appropriate in the following aspects: topic, length, style, and plot complexity.3) Create memorable characters: Since children invest time in following the journey of the protagonist, they need to identify with him or her, mirroring their own strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits in order to create that kindred-spirit connection.”In an effort to create characters and settings that they hope will be familiar and relatable to kids,” according to Jenny Bowman, a children’s book editor, “aspiring authors often end up with stories about nondescript little boys and girls living in an unspecified town and dealing with everyday problems. And more often than not, those stories are just plain boring. Children recognize and relate to emotions expressed by characters, and relatability is important, but relatable doesn’t have to mean identical. Challenge the status quo and subvert the default settings. If you are writing a story about a little boy who wants to grow up to be a doctor, ask yourself: What would happen if the little boy was a robot?”4) Create an engaging story: Engaging stories for adults, or for children as envisioned by adults, may not necessarily be the same as those which younger readers consider so. It must be about age-appropriate topics, experiences, issues, and perspectives. Important to child development are stories in which children are the heroes (not a rescuing adult), driving the action, making decisions, and combating obstacles and challenges. (Note that a childhood obstacle may be to have his best friend accept his cousin, and not how he will pay his mortgage at the end of the month.) Plots should be created to illustrate the work’s theme, which itself can be defined as the insight or lesson reached as a result of the story’s stepping stones. Some themes include loyalty, truth, and friendship, but must be child-appropriate. Betrayal, for example, should not be illustrated by the discovery of a cheating spouse, but instead by a backstabbing best friend.5) Cultivate your author voice: Although it is important to create and maintain a specific voice, which can be defined as “personality on paper,” this is not likely to be appreciated or even understood by young readers. Nevertheless, there are some stylistic techniques to consider.a) Use age-appropriate vocabulary, keeping in mind that a child’s still-developing brain is incapable of understanding complex, multi-syllabic words, at least during the early years. He may understand the word “happy,” for instance, but not “jovial” or “elated.” On the other hand, the author should refrain from “speaking down” to his readers is if they were mentally handicapped.b) Avoid rhyming verse: Unless you have mastered the technique of generating rhyming couplets, such as the time-immortal “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” and are writing for toddlers who may be more positively influenced by the rhyming sounds than their words’ definitions, avoid this style.6) Determine your need for an illustrator: Picture books, appropriate for very young children who learn more from visual images than vocabulary, are those which incorporate relatively equal ratios of text to illustrations. If you intend to write such a work and self-publish it, you will require a professional illustrator if your own ability to generate artwork is minimal. Consider the following sources for such artists: The Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators and/or Reedsy.Before you select an illustrator, determine his style, quality, and technique by inspecting his portfolio; obtain price quotes in writing; and ensure that meeting-of-the-minds expectations are author and illustrator identical.Article Sources:Epstein, Connie C. “The Art of Writing for Children: Skills and Techniques of the Craft.” Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1991.Yolen, Jane. “Writing Books for Children.” Boston: The Writer, Inc., 1973.

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