Investigating New Territory Through The World of Writing
With my last post, I pretty much hit bottom. I think I said it best when I realized the reason I couldn’t find something to write about was because I wasn’t spending any time living outside the classroom. So, this weekend, I did the best I could to distance myself from that negative place. Eating away at my conscience has been the book I started to write. This is a book written for students between age 9-13 ish – probably girls. I know it is a very narrow market. I’m really not looking for anyone’s opinion about the voice of the main character. I just want a little help making the story more realistic.
Here’s the premise. Three girls are spending their summer at their family cottage. The middle child, the main character, is struggling between childhood and becoming a young adult. She connects with her younger sister on many levels. But, she also wants to explore what it is like to be a young adult like her older sister. Together, they come up with an idea to make some money by helping others take care of their pets. I can imagine this book becoming a series of small novels from a variety of summer experiences in their cottage community as they are growing up together.
Here is the first chapter. I need specific feedback about what I might add to make it longer. After reading this section, I want you to ask yourself, what do I want to know more about? Maybe there are some images I play with that you think I could write about in more depth. I know you are mostly an adult audience and the audience I am picturing might be a sophisticated young reader, possibly a third grader who is advanced. At this point I am calling the novella Dog Summer
Okay, I’m really going to just copy my writing as it is written in the first chapter into my blog in an italicized font.
Looking out the car window, all I could see was summer, stretched out before me like an endless welcoming sea. The pine trees along the side of the two-lane highway lined up, perfect soldiers. Light danced in between. Within the forest of birches and maples, white trillium blanketed the floor. All this beauty would bring me home. Home. At least that’s how it felt to me. My house during the school year was nice enough. But, my heart was at my cottage. For eight weeks we lived at our cottage: eight, magical, wonderful, fun-filled weeks.
The pain in my side interrupted my daydreaming. An armrest dug into my ribs while I made my best effort to share my ipod with my sister, Marin. It was the only way we could both listen to her ipod. We each had one earbud.
“Hey,” I whined, as she changed position in the seat accidentally yanking the right earbud out of my ear. “Now, how am I supposed to hear?”
“Sorry Gretchen.” She reached over eight weeks of packed summer clothing to get the other half of the headphones.
My younger sister, Nina spotted our perfectly planned situation and wanted in, “I want a turn, tooooooooo!” Her last word too going on forever, “When is it my turn?”
Marin and I froze, making instant eye contact with Mom through the rearview mirror. Mom sent me a pleading look as if to say “Gretchen, can you please help your sister so I can concentrate on driving?”
Marin was the guinea pig first kid at twelve. Nina, the youngest but brilliant six. I was the sandwiched middle child at ten. All of us could barely hold it together for the few hours it took to get to our cottage. Mom popped in “The Aristocats” in the DVD player we were only allowed to use on long car trips. Nina immediately stopped complaining. I sighed, relieved. Thank goodness. Nina appeared to be distracted as the cats came dancing onto the screen. Way to go, Mom. I thought. She bought Marin and me at least another 15 minutes of interrupted peace.
A giggle escaped Nina’s lips when the three cats in the movie started arguing. I couldn’t help but smile, Even though they drove me crazy. I loved my sisters. We had a lot of good times together doing nothing – just goofing around. But, I could feel the pull of fifth grade egging me forward. How could we all keep growing without breaking up the miracle that was us? After the summer, Marin would enter her second year of middle school with her new friends. Nina needed me less and less. I ached for the summer ahead. Long days and late nights would be full of our laughter. Grinning to myself again, I relaxed while embracing the adventures ahead twirling through my mind.
So that is the end to the first chapter so far. What do you think? As soon as I get feedback I can send the next chapter if anyone is interested in following the story.