Sunday, December 16, 2007

Revelations about the process of writing...

Well, this week I've discovered that how I write now has change considerably from how I used to write back in the nineties when I was writing for my Bachelor degree.

Back then I used to plot out everything, I usually started with the end of a story and then worked my way toward the end. Before I started I "created" my characters. Their appearance, their names, their environment, their actions and the motivations behind the actions. That was all worked out before I even started.

Things have changed!

For the last couple of years of the nineties, and the last 7 years of the naughties, I've mostly writing academic stuff; essays and the like. I had started to doubt if I even had any stories to tell, and if I could remember how to tell them.

Well, it turns out there are stories in me. I don't know how many, and I can't tell you what they are about.

I discovered this because I had to write 4000 words of a young adult novel for my Writing for Children unit. At first I thought I'd write about a young girl who's parents were "tree hugging hippies" and how this affected how the other kids treated her at school. But then her school was at risk of being shut down unless there was some way to prove the school HAD to stay open, and to get some more funds running into the school. The girl comes up with the school applying for an environmental program grant, and to do that they need to show that they intend to make their school environmentally friendly and even a resource for the town. Through the knowledge this girl gets from her parents and their friend, the kids at school increase the school's energy efficiency, start their own organic garden and compost production, and recycling system for water. The school wins the grant and the Govenment is forced to keep the school open. The girl's reputation at the school is transformed from tree hugging hippie chick to school hero!

Ah, but something about the story didn't appeal to me (probably the fact that I had to do a bit of research, pmsl)... So, instead I went with a story about a boy who finds a box in a forest and along side it he finds a tiny little key. He opens the box hoping to find treaure, but the box is empty. Then two men come along and demand the box off him. He decides the box is important in some way and maybe if he can find out how he can benefit in some way from that knowledge. It turns out the box belongs to a girl who is living with her adopted parents. Her mother is dead, but her father is still alive, but hasn't stayed in contact with her. The boy understands what it is like to be rejected by a father because his own father left him and his mum and sister when his sister was a baby. So, he encourages the girl to write to her father, then they discover her adopted dad has intecepted the letter, so the boy decides to deliver it himself. The adoptive dad sends to men after the boy and they try to drown him. Thinking they've succeeded they leave him, and he is discovered by a farmhand. He eventually gets to the girls father and the father and daughter are reunted.

Other stuff happens along the way, but I don't want to go into all of that here (you just never know who might steal the idea, hahaha)...

Anyway, I started out with the scene in the forest with the boy finding the box. I didn't know where it would go from there but somehow the story just unravelled itself in front of me as I went along. I'd already mentioned that the boy didn't have a father but at that stage I didn't know the girl thought her father had abandoned her, too. It felt like the characters were telling the story and I was just transcribing it for them! It was amazing, I was getting to know the characters as they revealed themselves to me AS I WROTE.

I finihed the first two chapters (which was all I needed to do for the assignment) and then I needed to write a synopsis of the entire story for submission, and that's when I found out how the story ended. I'd finished the assignment without actually knowing what happened beyond the boy encouraging the girl to write to her father again...

Actually, when I started this blog, I didn't know how the hippy chick story was going to end either, all I knew what that there was this girl with hippy parents who had to somehow become "cool at school" and the rest came to me as I wrote it here, just ten minutes ago...

Who knew! I might just be a writer after all!!!

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Good Job!