Here’s a favorite topic: when starting a book, do you jump into the action on page 1 or let the story unravel as needed?
Before Pinkwater gives us his thoughts here, from memory, is one of the great opening lines of all-time, from the Neddiad:
I have not always lived here, and by “here” I do not mean the La Brea Tar Pits where I am writing this down.
SR: Kidlit writers like to talk about “In Media Res,” jumping into the action with sentence one, page one. But Pinkwater books usually don’t work that way. What’s your take on “jumping in?”
DP: ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORIES IS “A STUDY IN SCARLET,” THE FIRST SHERLOCK
HOLMES STORY. I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED THE WAY CONAN DOYLE HAS WATSON DITHER
AROUND FOR PAGE AFTER PAGE BEFORE THE ACTUAL ADVENTURE GETS STARTED. I
DIDN’T KNOW KIDLIT WRITERS TALK ABOUT “IN MEDIA RES.” MOST OF THE
KIDLIT WRITERS I HAVE MET TALK .
SR: In Avocado of Death, for example, the plot doesn’t start until Chapter 17 or so of a 34 . Until then it’s a book about old movies, bad teachers and toxic hot dogs. Did you plan it this way or did you get to Chapter 17 and say, “This story needs an evil plot?”
DP: I USED TO HAVE A CARD POSTED OVER MY DESK, IT READ: “PLOTS ARE A CRUTCH”