I’m not sure if this happens to everyone, or just me… but as I’m working on one story, little tidbits of a completely different story keeps popping into my head. I make a point of writing these bits and pieces down, then moving on and most of the time just forget about them. Until that is, I go through my notebooks and come across one of these little gems.
This is one I decided to finish the other day. I think this one came about because I heard author Neil Gaiman, say something like “a little bit of darkness is a good thing…..”, in relation to writing children’s stories. I agree 100%!
Hope you like it:
A Little Bit of Darkness
A little bit of darkness is a good thing for the soul,
‘cause only playing in the light will surely take its toll.
On how you live and how you think and how you spend each day.
It shouldn’t be just mindless running ‘round and normal play.
There’s lots of other things that you can do to have some fun.
You need to just be brave enough to free your mind to run.
So close your eyes and ride your brain right to the monster station,
and think up scary creatures with your wild imagination.
Your parents won’t approve and they will think that you’re quite strange.
Then try to spend more time with you, in hope that you will change.
And when they do, just smile and try to picture in your head,
how awesome it would be if they were both zombie undead.
- end -
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“.
Strange subject I know, but the title is in regards to a twitter post that was started by author Ben Wallace, a few months ago (sometime in November I think).
The reason I’m mentioning it now is that I am reading his latest book: “Giving the Bird: The indie author’s guide to Twitter”, and in one chapter it mentions some of the funny / silly / crazy gimmicks he uses, that his followers truly enjoy getting involved in, including me!
Here is a short sample from that chapter:
“… I go off and complain about something. It’s a flat out rant. BUT, it is all done in fun and I never attack anyone personally. For example, past #5minh8s have focused on cats, the new speed of guilt, office workers who take half a donut, running and other mundane everyday things that bother everybody. They are designed to be funny, not actual whining. And everybody likes to play.”
The reason I mention this actual passage is because not only did I get involved in the Twitter conversation, I actually started writing a rhyme (back then) about “The Halvers”. I forgot all about it till now. It was never finished, and I’m sure I started writing this only to avoid whatever work I was supposed to be doing at the time.
Here is how “The Halvers” started:
There is a group of people that should really be ashamed.
A group that makes all other people cringe and then complain.
“This isn’t how you do it.. it’s not normal what you do!”
Society can’t handle them, these selfish thoughtless few.
They think of no-one but themselves, and then just take a bite
of something big and tasty, and pretend that its alright
There you go. An example of how quickly the imagination can work when its trying to get out of actual work.
Maybe Ben ( @BenMWallace ) or one of his followers can finish this off one day. Hint hint.
Also, definately get his book “Giving the Bird: The indie author’s guide to Twitter”, if you want a simple to understand, no nonsense way of improving your twittering. (now I have to go and change my Twitter profile, because his book explained why I should)
Just sitting here all on my own, I think I’ll write a book.
Have no idea on how to start, I need to take a look,
at other stories in the store, to get some inspiration.
It can’t be hard to write the biggest seller in the nation.
I wrote this while I was waiting for my daughter to finish an art workshop she was invited to through her school. I couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I just kept sitting there, all my own thinking about writing something, not realizing that I was actually living the beginning of a short rhyme.
Soon after I read Steve Hely’s book “How I Became A Famous Novelist” which has the same underlying message: how hard can it be…. its just writing after all!