October 9, 2016

WRITING ADVICE: Can This Story Be SAVED? #5 “Snapdragon” (Submitted 3 Times Since 2008, Never Revised)

In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, In April of 2014, I figured I’d gotten enough publications that I could share some of the things I did “right”. I’ll keep that up, but I’m running out of pro-published stories. I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it, but someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. Hemingway’s quote above will remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales, but I’m adding this new series of posts because I want to carefully look at what I’ve done WRONG and see if I can fix it. As always, your comments are welcome!

ANALOG Tag Line: (This was a CRICKET story, but you get the idea) If you could get even with someone, would you?

Elevator Pitch (What Did I Think I Was Trying To Say?) A kid whose toy fire lizard comes to life has a choice of letting his worst enemy pass out from a diabetic reaction or give him what he needs…

Opening Line: “‘You brought a toy to summer school?’ growled Austin ‘Brutus’ Loeb.’

Onward: OK – the dialogue goes downhill from there because I have an ADULT intervene immediately:

“It’s a model, stupid!” snapped Drew Kust. Peeking out from behind Drew’s right ear was a stuffed miniature dragon named Flamer. Made of shiny bronze material, his wire tail was wrapped around Drew’s neck and held him there.

“I ain’t stupid!” Brutus snarled, pushing up the sleeves of his T-shirt past bulging biceps.

Austin! Andrew!” bellowed Mr. Gjerde. “Recess is over! Back inside.” The teacher towered over both boys, fists on his hips. “Save your energy for class. Austin, your snack is on my desk. Eat it as soon as you get in.”

Brutus growled, “I hate having…”

“You want me to call your mother?” Mr. Gjerde said. Brutus went in, grumbling.

Drew said, “I could be home…”

“You chose to fail sixth grade,” Mr. Gjerde snapped. “Now you make it up.”

What Was I Trying To Say? Nothing – or at most, “Don’t be mean to people.”

The Rest of the Story: It turns out Brutus is supposed to have a snack before he gets home – like most other Type 1 diabetics, he has to watch his food intake – so his blood sugars don’t crash. Also, like most young people, they resent the disease and in order to fit in or FEEL like they are just like everyone, they often ignore their health.

My best friend and best man in my wedding acted that way his whole life. Ultimately, he died from his actions a bit over a year later, leaving a wife, a young son, and an unborn daughter. He was mild-mannered (in public) and loved reading fantasy. I’d given him the entire hardcover set of DERYNII books by Katherine Kurtz for a groomsman’s gift. I suppose I was trying to preach to the kids rather than tell a story…

End Analysis: The story in this form was TOO preachy. The message too obvious. Plus, the denouement was t00 abrupt.

Of course, for CRICKET, I’m limited to 1500 words. But I’ve written two stories for them, so I KNOW I can do it. Why didn’t this turn out? Like I said, I think I was too preachy. Maybe I have to change the venue; send them on a field trip? They get separated from the group because…hmmm.

Can This Story Be Saved? THIS story isn’t really save-able. I’d need to rework the whole thing. NOT that that isn’t possible. But is it worth it? Would I be able to sell it to CRICKET? Most likely not, as I seem to be on some sort of black list there because I kept asking to get paid after they published a story of mine. See, they were strapped for cash at the time, and no one would answer me…so I wrote to an editor I DO know and she spoke up for me. Altogether too high maintenance for a magazine that’s considered the “Lexus of the children’s magazine world”. Now that I think about it…hmmm…

Anyway. Maybe I will; maybe I won’t. I WILL post it here: http://theworkandworksheetsofguystewart.blogspot.com/ so you can read it for yourself. If you’ve got a suggestion, let me know there! For now, it’s my first really “unsaveable” story.

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