This blog is called On My Mind. Today's post is not the usual story starter or writing tip. This was written while trying to grasp what happened that day. It has meaning beyond meaning to me.
The rain began
slowly at first, falling gently in the morning.I carried you both on our journey home. I held you close, as close as
possible, and kept you dry.I let you
know how much I loved you and promised that I would keep you safe.As the day progressed, the rain got heavier
and everything changed.The wind blew
stronger and stronger until it became difficult to carry you but I would not
let you down.She thought she was ready to
go or maybe it was something else compelling her to go but it wasn’t my idea.I could see our blurry house in the distance but
the storm was too heavy to get there.I
ran into the nearest building.We
huddled to stay warm.The wind whistled
as the storm shook the walls and the door opened, just a little at first, but
continued to swing wider as the rain and wind steadily increased.Holding on to you as tightly as I could, I
tried to force the door closed but the wind picked up. It forced the door open
and slammed me against the wall.The air
swelled into a hurricane and its pull ripped us apart.I lost control of keeping you safe.I was forced to let go.The winds carried her, my baby girl, through
the doorway.I grabbed for her but she
was swept too quickly out of reach.We
had to let her go but you weren’t ready.You wrapped yourself around me.I
begged Mother Nature to let you stay.You held on but the grip of the wind was too tight.It wrapped us like a tornado, twisting,
turning, and separating us. It refused to let you go.The torrential downpour whipped across my
face as it tore you from me.I wasn’t
ready.You were too small to survive alone,
but you found her, your sister, and stayed together.You both struggled to live without me.When the weather calmed, I found you battered
and bruised.I sat beside you both and
held your hands.I looked into your eyes
and spoke softly. Your sister left us first but you continued to hang on.Then you left us.It was too soon.You left me too soon.Our dreams were shattered.That day is here again and I can’t shake the
memory of the storm, of losing you both, my babies. I remember the few moments
that we had when I was able to look into your eyes and hold your tiny hands.A lion in the storm.Soo strong.In my arms for just a moment but
in my heart forever.
If you have ever lost a lion in the storm. I am very sorry for your loss.
Keep in mind
that there are many, many authors who write without outlining first. They have
an idea or a main character and just start writing. There is no wrong way to
write a story. I taught writing to fourth graders and always had them use a
Story Planner before writing so that I could see their plot before they spent a
lot of time writing out the story. I like thinking about where the story needs
to get to (the exciting part) so that I could help my students write a story
that gets there. I do a very brief plan for picture books and slightly more
detailed outline for chapter books. This is how I do it:
Students in first grade learn about
Story Mapping. This is an exercise in breaking down a book into pieces to help
with comprehension of the story.Students
learn that a story needs to have a beginning, middle, and an ending. Here are
some examples of Story Mapping Worksheets from a first grade class:
Since kids have to think about what
they read in this way, I use a similar approach to write picture book
manuscripts. I often think of a character first since I love character driven
stories so I jot down a few notes on the following things:
Important Events – Think in 3s. The
mc’s first attempt to solve his/her problem doesn’t work and leads to the
second attempt which doesn’t work and leads to a third attempt which either
solves the problem or creates a new problem. The thing about working in 3s is
that they have to make sense together and preferably are connected rather than
3 random ideas that simply don’t work. There are, of course, exceptions to
every rule (and this isn’t a rule, just something I have noticed in the
hundreds of books I have read).
I also like
to explain the plot this way: Main Character __________
wants to__________but can’t because __________ so __________.
Books and Early Mid Grade Novels
information I gathered in my chapter book and mid grade novel research (posted
in a previous blog), I begin writing this way:
What makes this MC different?
Outline of Chapters:
I plan for
10 chapters but it can be as few as 3 and as many as 50 for a chapter book. I
have read that the “sweet spot” for word count is 6,000-10,000 words for
beginning, you need to show the reader (show don’t tell as often as possible) who
is MC is, how old, what the setting is and what the problem or goal is?
is shown, let the reader know who or what is getting in the way of the MC
solving his/her problem or reaching that goal.
the attempts to solve the problem. Usually, the first and second attempts don’t
work because something gets in the way. The first attempt leads to the second
attempt which leads to either a new problem or the third attempt.
What is the
new problem? Will solving it get the solution to the first problem or create a
way that the MC can solve the first problem? If not, then take it out. There is
no room for bird walking in picture books or chapter books.
your MC makes a third attempt to solve the problem or reach the goal.
problem/conflict/reaching the goal now means what? What was the point? What was
the point of getting there? Show the reader.
By now, you
should be at chapter 10 or near the end of your story .Wrap it up – Now that the problem is solved,
what new problem is created?