Many moons ago, the elegant Abbiee created a tag out of her own brain with the sole intent of torturing me.
It was rather rude of her, admittedly, but I am nothing if not longsuffering and so, I am prepared to go to the stake and do the tag.
The rules are as follows.
Reveal the ghastly truth about the stories you wrote once upon a time when you were smol.
Tell us why they were ugly blasphemies to the race of Books.
Turn bright red with the shame of it all.
So here I am, to follow these rules to the letter. Except the last one, because I am actually incapable of blushing. My skin has only one shade – paper white.
Early Writing 1: The Girl Wants A Puppy
Once upon a time, I read a lovely story called Misty And Me by Barbara Girion. This story is about Kim, who wants a puppy. But her mother is returning to work and the busy family can’t add a puppy into the mix. Kim is upset about this turn of events – her parents promised, after all. So what does she do, but sneak out and buy a puppy anyone, using only her 6th grade intellect and cute little brother sidekick.
And all this is great, right?
Except when you – coincedentally – decide that you too will write a story. And in your story, a young girl sits at the dinner table and reminds her parents of a promised puppy. The mother at the dinner table is reluctant to reveal the truth… She can’t have a puppy! The food begins to stick in our protagonist’s throat.
I realized right about then that I was grossly plagiarizing my beloved puppy story and did what every true professional does – I quit.
I know, I know… that was lame. I should have stuck it out, I suppose. But, at this point in my career, I had no ideas. Which lead to an unhealthy amount of borrowing.
What I Learned?
…Obvious plagiarism is obvious.
…Sometimes when you put things into your own words, it’s better than the original?
…You need to make your brain a rampant garden of ideas.
…If you steal from multiple sources, people are less likely to notice!
Early Writing 2: The Babysitter’s Story
Okay, so I had an actual idea. Sort of…
I plunged right into this story headfirst and dangflabbit, why not be chronological? What is the first thing you see when you read a story? That’s right. The title. So I invented the title first. And obviously it had to be something super epic so that everyone would be sucked in right away!
After I had that spooky title nailed down, I sat my skinny butt down and started pounding out those words. Did I have an outline? No. Did I have any idea at all where the story was headed? No. Unless you count the fact that I planned on someone babysitting someone else at some point. And I probably had some vague ideas about murder and false accusations against said babysitter. But nothing too concrete. Wouldn’t want to paint myself into a corner or anything.
So. Chapter one! Exciting moment. I started the story off with a bang – Jenna is walking up to get the mail. I felt qualified to write this scene because I have gotten the mail on numerous occasions. Jenna steps in a puddle and somehow ends up in the road with a mack truck headed right for her. The story has effectively taken an unexpected turn. Nothing like surprising yourself along with your audience, right?
The story faltered from there. Jenna was the twin sister of Josh. They were close. They came from a severely broken and severely complicated family including stepsiblings, a hardworking mother, and a live-in boyfriend named Jared.
The matching names were completely unintentional.
I don’t even remember when I quit this story, or why. I suppose I got bored at some point and wanted to play with stuffed animals more than I wanted to sit and try and think of exciting new things to happen and how it all tied in with the babysitting business.
Thus ended that endeavor.
What I Learned?
…Never start with a title and nothing else.
…Don’t title your book something totally irrelevant.
…Adding characters just because you’re bored with the story overcomplicates things fast.
…Maybe have a basic plot before you start Chapter One?
Early Writing 3: Roxie
Wise little fiend that I was, I did not title this work. But it did center around a character named Roxie, so we’ll just call it that.
Roxie was a character I had made up long before I wrote about him. You see, Roxie was a stuffed animal of mine. A beanie baby, to be precise. He was a rottweiler and my favorite of all my stuffed animals – and believe me, my collection was extensive – because he was… charming.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but what my brothers and I liked to do with stuffed animals was to be their voices. And then we would tell stories or put on plays… kind of like a movie or a neverending TV show. It’s hard to explain. Essentially, we gave these toys life. Each one had a name and a backstory and personality of his own. I played all of my stuffed animals, and each of the boys voiced theirs. There were no rules about what could happen in the stories – it was a free-for-all.
Roxie was my favorite and I suspect both boys were a little jealous at my superior voice-acting. Roxie was rich and famous and smooth. So smooth.
If ever a character deserved an autobiography, it was Roxie. I decided to have him write one. Timothy loved it. I read it out loud to him and we cackled together over Roxie’s dedication to his owner, his interest in the toilet, his distaste for the mustached neighbor across the street. I was brilliant.
But sooner or later, the dream had to die. It was just too unrealistic; a world where stuffed animals had come to life.
What I Learned?
…I’m not half-bad at comedy? This might be a genre to be revisited someday.
…The smooth devils are the most fun to write about.
…My little brother will always and forever think I am a genius. I will allow him to live in this delusion.
Early Writing 4 And 5: A Girl Named Jane… And Superhero Twins
You have probably heard this story before.
Once upon a time, Timothy and I were playing school. We liked pretend games, okay? I was doubling as a sassy highschool girl and the snotty English teacher. The assignment I gave myself was to briefly summarize a fairytale story that you would later be required to write.
I wrote on my MagnaDoodle something like this, “A girl runs away from home and gets stuck in a trap so a dragon man has to save her.”
Does this sound familiar?
It should… because it turned into The Songless. That’s right! My prized story began when I was eleven years old and suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. You heard it here first, folks.
Obviously, I was intrigued by my own synopis. I named the girl Jane, gave her mother cancer, made her father abusive, and had her run away to live in a cottage in the woods. Rather like Snow White, come to think of it…
From there, things evolved.
At the same time – in fact, they were going to be in the same series – I had an idea for a superhero story. I love brother stories, and so I decided that these two superhero brothers were going to save the world with their kind smiles, ability to give good hugs, and comfort each other whilst wearing nothing but checkered boxers.
Needless to say, the superhero story was trashed. It was too different from The Songless to be tied into some kind of parallel universe. The boys might have influenced a few of the characters, subtly.
But… I kind of love both of these stories. They were definitely awful at first, but they were the first stories I ever wrote that had potential.
What I Learned?
…A story can change drastically over time, for the better.
…Characters can be lovable, but there needs to be plot, too.
…If you steal from all over the place, no one will notice. Muahaha.
…Don’t try to combine superheroes and epic fantasy, okay?
My embarrassment is complete.
All the thanks for this highly entertaining post goes to the amazing Abbiee! She writes about confidence and introversion and writing and waffles. You should probably follow her like the good little stalker that you are.
And remember how this is a tag?