At the end of this, my first week of the Man on a Wharf challenge, I find I am already going to have to modify the task.
Last night, I finished writing my first story. I have spent my week nights writing madly, but in the meantime somewhat neglecting my occupational and parental duties and getting a little stressed in the process.
On another, but related topic, yesterday, I had the privilege of listening to two of Australia’s top children’s writers, Mem Fox and Andy Griffiths, speak at the Adelaide Writer’s Week. One of the things they highlighted as very important is the drafting process. Mem Fox is a picture book writer and she detailed how over the course of twenty or so drafts, she recently cut down a 490 word book to 360 words. That’s 27% of the story that she eliminated! Incidentally, that is exactly how much I need to remove from my first story before publishing it online.
When writing for children, it is important that the writer keeps the audience engaged by stripping down a story to its essentials. One very useful writing tip that Mem gave us was to cover the first paragraph and see if the story can still hold without it. If so, then delete it and cover the next paragraph. If it can still survive without this next paragraph, then delete that too. Continue this until you can go no further without compromising the story. This, she explained, helps to deliver the child straight into the middle of the action, without taking them through the some of the introductory nonsense or ‘throat clearing’ (as Andy called it) that we adults think we need to put at the beginning of a story.
As I have chosen to write my first story in the ‘tween boy’ genre, I would like to apply this wisdom and draft my story significantly before showing it to the world.
In addition to the above, I have thought of many writing issues about which I would like to have time to blog and won’t if I’m writing fiction every night.
Therefore, dear reader, I propose a slight change to my challenge. All rules remain the same except that I will post a new story every fortnight to give me time to fulfil life’s other duties and draft my work carefully. This will also leave me time to blog about other things in the intervening weeks.
I hope you will forgive me for this. I promise you; I am still committed to the challenge but want to remain sane in the process.
Below I have provided a little teaser photo for the first story: