Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Novel Idea: How It All Began

Hey all! Time for my weekly ANI post! Hope you're enjoying reading these as much as I've enjoyed writing them! Nothing like an awesomely random subject to get those creative juices bubbling. ;)

The Prompt:

This week, tell us about some of your first stories. When did you start writing it, and why? Do you remember the characters’ names? Are you still writing it? If not, do you think you’ll ever rewrite it? What did you learn while writing it?

My first very first story was "The Adventures of Dan & Kathryn". I started writing it when I was seven, and finished when I was eight. I remember the characters very well, actually, I still have the first draft on printed paper in my drawer up in my room. When I'm disgusted at how my current story is going, I go and look at that first book to remind myself that IT COULD BE A LOT WORSE. XD The main characters' names were Dan and Kathryn (I know, who would have guessed?? ;) and their siblings were Sally, Ted, and Martha. They had two dogs, Sam and Gertrude (shortened to Gerty), and later when the two dogs have puppies, they keep one of them in addition to the two they had and name her Kate. Later in the story, Kathryn is given three horses (the author's wishful thinking played a big part in that) and she names them Lightening, Ginger, and Sugar.

No, I'm not still writing it. It's so hopeless, I doubt I'll ever even try to make it better. However, it was a good exercise in writing when I was younger, and I'm proud I wrote it. Maybe, at some point when I'm a really famous, best-selling author *cough* it'll be put into print and I'll get a ton of money from it. Highly unlikely, but hey, one can dream, right? ;) Here's a short excerpt from it:

            Everything was a hubbub in the Forester home. A missionary family was visiting them from China!
           Sally cleaned the bathrooms, Ted vacuumed, Martha washed the windows, and Dan and Kathryn dusted.
           Finally, Mr. Wilder drove himself and his family into the Forester's driveway and was welcomed warmly by the hospitable family.
            Sally and Kathryn made an immediate friendship with Lily, Ted played cowboys and Indians outside with the boys while Martha busied herself with Sara and Nathan. She showed Sara where the dolls were and Nathan where the balls were.
                  Soon enough, Mrs. Forester called Dan and Kathryn in to set the tables for calzones and salad.
            After they had eaten, Mr. Wilder told them many stories about their exciting trip to and from China and how the Lord had provided for all their needs.
                  After that, the boys played some board games and the girls played "house" while the parents talked.
           Soon it was time for the Wilders to leave, so the children picked up their mess and with a "hope to see you all again soon" the Wilders climbed into their van and rode away.
                With a sigh, all the tired kids, parents, and dog went to bed. For once, grateful for sleep, they went to sleep immediately.

           The next day, life went on. Kathryn helped Dan with taking care of the dog. Breakfast came and went with the usual routine. Chores were finished, school work accomplished. Lunch and what follows arrived. Kitchen clean up was completed. More chores, and of course quiet time were ticked off in record time. Dinner was eaten, devotions were made, and bed came again.
               So, although the Foresters had no guests for awhile, life still went on as usual. 

As you can see from reading that, my early writings (doesn't THAT make me sound professional? XD) were heavily influenced by my life as a PK. ;) Hopefully you can also tell that my writing has come a LONG WAY from that first story. :P
I did learn one very valuable lesson from the writing of "The Adventures of Dan & Kathryn": it is possible to have too many characters. :) It started with two main characters, but then you add three siblings, plus a family of eight who are friends with your characters and show up a lot in the story, plus a villain and his family of four...not to mention the parents and the gets very confusing and a lot of characters start acting the same. From then on, I stuck to five characters or less in order to be able to focus on unique personalities and avoid falling into stereotypes.


The first story I really considered worth the time I took writing it was "The Mysterious Five and the Search for the Lost Dinosaur Bone". I started that book when I was eight, and finished it when I was ten. I also have a typed and printed copy of that story, and although you can definitely tell I wasn't very experienced when I wrote it first, I think it has some potential, and I probably will end up editing it and publishing it as a short story.

The main characters were seventeen-year-old Seth (the narrator, or as I call them "the 'I' person") and his four siblings Rachel (15), Amy (14), Adam (11), and Kenneth (10). Here's a short snippet (edited for easier reading)of what I wrote when I was eight:

             Early in the morning, I awoke to Rachel violently shaking me by the shoulder.
            “Seth!” she whispered urgently, trying not to wake the other two boys next to me. “Wake up; I have something important to say.” Having had all the grogginess shaken from me, I sat bolt upright, nearly upsetting the cot which I shared with the other boys.
            “What is it?” I replied as Rachel gasped for breath. (I could tell she had been running.)     
            “Seth,” she finally gasped out, “our triceratops leg bone is GONE!” She gave especial emphasis on her last word, and made me jump. Kenneth and Adam stirred in their sleep, and Adam grunted before his breath evened out again.
            “Have you told Uncle?” I asked once I had sufficiently recovered my composure after the shock.
            Rachel shook her head.“No, I haven’t, He hasn’t come into the museum yet. Remember, today the museum doesn’t open, it’s Saturday.”
           I looked at her in disbelief. “I can’t believe it! Have you told the other kids?” Again Rachel shook her head. “Good, let’s keep it that way until breakfast. I’ll tell them all then. Wake up Amy and the boys, and let me have some quiet time to think. Thanks.” After Rachel woke the boys, (With much groaning and lamentations from Adam), I sat and stewed in thought.
            Soon, a little too soon, Rachel came in to say that breakfast was ready, so I left my musings reluctantly, and went to the table rehearsing my speech in my mind, over and over.
            It took a while for the noise and chatter to die down some, but it did at last, and I stood from my chair. All eyes were riveted to me; I did not usually stand in the middle of a meal. I cleared my throat and began:
            “Brothers and sisters, I have just this morning heard the dreadful news that our prized triceratops leg bone has mysteriously disappeared. Thankfully it’s Saturday, because I will need all of your help to return it to our museum. I hope that we will be able to find it before our Uncle sees it missing. I’m afraid that would kill him. Are you willing to help me in the search?” All heads nodded, though Rachel looked a little unsure. I continued, “Wonderful! So here’s our next plan of action. Kenneth, you are going to come with me after breakfast, to help me look for clues. Rachel, you are to stay here with Adam and Amy. Are your orders understood?”
            All my siblings nodded again, although Adam looked a bit disappointed at being left out of the action. I sat down again, and breakfast continued. Kenneth sat with his eyes on his plate. A look of puzzlement was on his face. Smiling inside, for his expression was rather comical; I asked him what was bothering him.
           He looked up, startled, from his musings.“Oh, I’m just puzzled about this robbery. Why did they take something from our museum, I mean, there are so many others...why ours?” This question I could not answer.
            “That is what I want to find out next, let’s hurry up and go.”
             Kenneth gave me a quick nod, and gulping down his breakfast in a manner that was so unlike his usual that I was almost worried for his health; pushed his chair back from the table, and pulled on his boots.
            In no time at all, we were hurrying across the back yard lawn, still wet with dew. Kenneth pushed open the double doors; the squeaky hinge seemed deafening in the still morning air. Almost stealthily, we tiptoed through the museum, the hollow thump, thump, thump, of our feet adding to the eeriness.
            Suddenly, Kenneth froze in his tracks. I followed his example and stopped.
            “What?” I whispered.
            “Someone’s in this museum and is coming our way,” was his reply.
            “I don’t hear anything. Perhaps you were mistaken,” I said, speaking with much more confidence than I felt.
             Kenneth shook his head.“No, I am positive I heard footsteps coming our way. Listen close, then you might hear it too.” 
            Since he insisted, I tilted my head in a way to catch all possible sounds, and held my breath, listening. Yes, now I could hear it to, faintly.
            “It’s just our echo I think,” I said.
             Kenneth looked at me reproachfully. “If it was our echo, it would have stopped by now.”
             Embarrassed, I felt my ears turn red.“I-it might be Uncle Devon,” I stuttered, trying to think of another possibility.
             Again, Kenneth shook his head.“If it was Uncle Devon, the footfalls would be heavy. These footfalls are light; perhaps belonging to a girl.”
            “What! A girl!?” I replied in a loud whisper, “Impossible! The only girls that possess a key to the museum are Rachel and Amy, and they are at home exactly where I told them to be.” I paused. “You don’t think they’d disobey me would they?”  Kenneth assured me that they would not disobey me. “Then what on earth would a girl be doing here?” I declared triumphantly. Kenneth shrugged, motioning me to be a little bit quieter. I was louder with that statement then I had intended originally to be.
            “Let’s hide anyhow and see who it is, maybe this is the clue we’re looking for. Come on, let’s hide behind this.” I followed Kenneth, and we managed to wedge ourselves between the wall of the museum and a suit of armor before the person came.

What did I learn while writing it? You can't edit a book enough. ;) Sorry all you aspiring authors out there. No matter HOW MANY TIME YOU EDIT A BOOK, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MISTAKES. Granted, the more you edit it, the less mistakes there will be, but there's no way to get out all the mistakes. Even your beloved alpha and beta readers won't catch everything. They aren't God. For which I'm sure they're very grateful. ;)

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