Writing a Story-Part 2a: Roughin’ It with Ideas

In Part 1, the conceptualization happened when daughter decided that she was done playing.  Here in Part 2, we’ll be focused on Pre-Writing and the Rough Draft.  With pre-writing, I’ll be jotting down some notions that I’ve had in my mind for the story.  Pre-Writing is also where I set some of the direction for the story.  In the Rough Draft part, I’ll actually put some of those notions into action.

Pre-Writing–have an idea about the conflict

So I’ve got this concept.  A little girl is hunting monsters, but life keeps getting in her way.  I like the concept because the plot of the story seems ready for launch.  For those interested in writing (or writing picture books), it’s important to know where to find the conflict.  You’ve got around 1000 words to tell a story from beginning to end.  Each word counts!

The conflict as I see it, is between the girl and nature (or reality).  She really wants to find this monster.  It should go smoothly if it weren’t for: her mother, the weather, her rotten sister, etc.

Also during pre-writing, it’s a great time to compare what might be similar. There are millions of picture books out there, so it’s important to see what has been done and how it was done well.  Note: this isn’t to say, “That story is already been done.  Think of something new!”  In life, there are VERY FEW new stories.  Comparing your story to other stories is a way to see what that other author did well, what “mechanics” (if you will) work for the story.

Since I’m going to be playing around with Reality vs. Fantasy, there’s a huge selection of picture books to consider.  One quick comparison that immediately comes to mind to me is “There’s an Alligator Under My Bed” by Mercer Mayer

Front Cover

The main character is out to catch an alligator (my main character is going to try to catch a monster).  His parents can’t find it, so it’s up to him.  This little story plays up the idea of what is real and what is not.  Is there REALLY an alligator under his bed?

What is even more interesting, in my opinion though, is how main character doesn’t care about proving there is an alligator, he KNOWS there is an alligator and he wants it GONE.

I think it’s how fast the main character jumps toward solving the problem that I find inspiring.  It’s something I’ll be thinking about while I write.

As for the truth about the alligator?  The reader never gets to know.  I like that too.

The Rough Draft

Oh boy.  Here we go.  So in the rough draft, I’ll be trying to stay focused on simply getting the story from start to finish.  There’s going to be A LOT of re-writing, but I want to keep a couple things in mind.

1)Keep pushing through, even if I feel stuck–even if I write myself into a corner, I can just come back later

2)Be aware of the word count, but don’t be married to it.–the very first rough draft should be about getting the ideas down.  Word choice is essential in picture books, but it’s important first to see how the story flows.

3)Keep in mind, this is the first draft!  Try to keep focused on what I see in my mind, but don’t be so locked in that the story can’t breath and improvise.

Ready?  Ready.  On your mark, get set…GO!




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