Apr 2, 2013

Baby Steps: From Shorts to Novels

As you adventure into the Eternal Feud Series with Reunion at Walnut Cherryville, take a behind the scenes look at past stories, my inspiration and influences that helped create Eternal Feud.


An Elementary Tyke
A fourth grade writing assignment to illustrate and read aloud an original short story, “How the Pencil Came To Be”, was the gateway into my future writing career.   

While doing her homework, Victoria became frustrated with pens.  They were messy, especially for lefties, because the ink smeared and stained her hand. (I know from personal experience).  Everything she wrote was permanent and couldn't be changed.  She wished she had something better to write with, so she complained to her father.  He gathered some tools, fashioned a device out of wood, lead, metal and rubber and called it a “pencil.” 

This assignment, now a keepsake, was the first story I ever wrote.  Over the next two years, I continued to write short stories slowly working my way up to novel-length works. 

Young Feudling
In sixth grade, I began hand-writing my first novel in a notebook that I carried around from class to class.  Embedded in that novel, was the seed for the Eternal Feud Series.  My chicken scratches were titled The Nice and Unpopular, which is a story about a girl who struggled to regain her social status after her family moved out-of-state forcing her to start over at a new high school.  Her father was an actor who played the lead role in a soap opera called Romance with Johnny, which eventually branched out as its own novel.  After thirteen years, three drafts and a title change, Reunion at Walnut Cherryville evolved into a dystopian themed novel that had little relevance to its previous title.

Solving Problems with Lost
Lost TV Show
For many people, Lost posed a plethora of questions and answers were scarce, but that wasn’t the case for me.  By examining the narrative style of Lost, I found answers to how I could make Reunion at Walnut Cherryville a more character-driven story with a fast-moving plot.  The first two drafts were told through the first person point-of-view of my main character, Johnny Cockit, which changed in the third draft, after I became addicted to Lost.  By using multiple narrators and flashbacks, I felt more connected with the characters and their criminal pasts.  I enjoyed getting inside the character’s mind and reading all their thoughts and feelings.  With first person multiple narration; the reader is allowed to invade their space, which is very cool!  This allowed my writing to become more naturally spontaneous and less planned.  I hardly ever knew what I was going to write in advance and most plans I made were changed on the spot during the writing process.  I’m surprised this book even has a plot!  Somehow, I managed to work it all out in the end.  Start with the action, weave in the exposition and close with a mysterious ending.  A lesson never lost.   
An Unintentional Realization
Apparently, this novel subconsciously inspired my book series more than I realized.  A family feud, delinquent teens, magical deserts serving as correctional facilities…  I read this book when I was twelve and it was one of my favorite reads.  I didn’t realize how much Holes and Reunion at Walnut Cherryville had in common until I finished editing it.  I imagine Walnut Cherryville to be the correctional facility people are transferred to if Camp Green Lake didn’t work.  If they didn’t learn a lesson from digging holes, they’ll defiantly learn a lesson from competing on Chair Trials!    
You never know what will inspire you to write a great story.  Inspiration can come from anywhere, so keep your eyes peeled and write, write, write. 

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