Carrying on from the previous post about “The trouble with having more than one notebook, and writing a story in bits and pieces over time”.
I read the story, as rough as it is, to my 2 girls, aged 9 and 11, and explained that it may be the start of a good story, and wanted to know what they thought. Especially their thoughts on whether I should spend the time to re-work it into a finished rhyming children’s book.
They both did say it sounded “good”, and then, instead of giving more feedback on the story, or any other encouraging words in regards to the quality of my work, or the awesomeness of my writing talent, they started to rhyme their own story about wanting to fly.
Here is what they ended up with:
I want to fly you see I said.
I want to fly with my friend Fred.
Instead of fly, we fell instead.
Crashed to the ground and then we bled.
A passing doctor stopped and said,
Clean up this mess and get to bed.
There you go, a nice compact little story. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending…. all in just 6 lines. I especially like the Tim Burton-ish feel the story conveys.
Now there’s awesome writing talent for you. I just wish they didn’t make it look so easy.
This post could also be called: “The trouble with having more than one notebook, and writing a story in bits and pieces over time”.
Quite a while ago, I wrote down a paragraph of a potential story, as I always do, into my notebook one day. My notepads are full of single words, phrases, story ideas, rhymes and even badly drawn sketches. I find most of the time that ideas normally pop-in while I’m writing something completely different, and I have absolutely no idea where they come from, or why. Sometimes these are the best idea’s, and sometimes they’re not, but I try to always write them down. You never know when one of them decides to grow into a something bigger and better.
Ideas are mysterious things, and where they come from is a popular question that writers get asked. As far as I know, no-one has a realistic answer, but the best one I have heard is from the muppet Gonzo, in an episode of Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies. He once said “All good ideas come from my nose. Though now and then I get a pretty good one from my elbow”. That’s as good an answer as any, and probably better than most.
So, this is the paragraph that I wrote down that day:
I want to fly, I told my mum, I want to do bird things.
That’s fine she said, go out and fly, but first you need some wings.
It seemed like an interesting start to some kind of a story. But not interesting enough for me to try and build on at the time.
Then one day while waiting for something, maybe a doctors appointment, I remembered the start of that “flying” story that I started, not word for word, but the basic idea of it, and wrote some more, but this time in a different note pad:
My mum knows stuff because she’s old.
I should go out do what I’m told.
But where to start, what should I do.
I can’t just fly, must think this through.
Just like mum said, its wings I need.
I need a book, it’s time to read.
On how big things, that weigh a lot*,
get off the ground and stay aloft*.
That sounds too hard, and I’m quite smart,
don’t need to read, just need to start
* “a lot” and “aloft” are “near rhymes”, which should be avoided if possible.
Now I know that I should never share a first draft of any story, these are just rough ideas coming into my head, completely un-edited, and easy to criticize. However I think this is coming out Ok, for something that I’m only doing to kill some time.
The problem that now is becoming obvious it that the beat (meter) of the rhyme isn’t matching in the 2 writing sessions.
Now on a different day again, and in a different notebook, I ended up writing some more:
How hard can it be to make,
a pair of wings that will not break
When I jump off a building tall,
I hope to soar, and not to fall.
Another day, another beat.
I still have no idea how this story will end, if I ever decide to finish writing it. Though reading through the words so far, their are a few obvious conclusions. The boy will either end up hurting himself and ending up in hospital, or just chickening out, or…. who knows.
The one thing I do like about the journey with this story, is that it reflects what Stephen King tells about how his stories evolve. When he starts he only has a basic idea of the story, and its characters. He doesn’t know how the story will end, until the story unwinds and dictates its own ending.
Good writing is hard, and writing in rhyme can be quite painful, however every now and again a few words come out that sound like real words written by a real writer, and that’s the motivation that takes you a little bit further.
I’m not sure if I will ever finish writing this particular story, as I have more interest in 2 others, “Bat-bot Boy” and “The Zombie Troubadour”, that are both almost there. I’m not even sure if I’m a good writer, or why my stories come out of my head in rhyme. The one thing I do know is that I have stories to tell, and I’m going to tell them as best I can.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.
P.S. There is more to understanding writing in rhyme than you may think. In this post I have touched on “meter / beat” and “near rhymes” but haven’t gone anywhere near terms like “stressed syllables” or “anapaestic tetrameter” (which is what Dr Seuss liked to use). If you are interested in an easy to read book that explains the basics quite well, you should check out Jackie Hosking’s eBook “How to Write in Rhyme like the Experts“.