Thrilled to say that I'm safe and snug in The Golden Egg Academy incubator. Last weekend I joined 9 other 'Eggers' for Through The Narrator's Eye workshop.
I'm already a member of Society Of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Society Of Authors (SOA) the who, what, where of children's book writing and illustrating so why Golden Egg?
Last year, I wrote my first Middle Grade children's story (2nd draft 48,000 words) and I didn't know what to do with it.
I submitted it to the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2014.
When they passed on it I knew that I hadn't even discovered my voice yet and I needed help.
I didn't think I had a voice for my longer fiction until editor Beverley Birch unlocked the mystery this weekend. My voice was there but I didn't recognise it. How could I? I've only written 2 drafts and Beverley said she writes about 50.
Task 1 - Through The Narrator's Eye: Analyse the same piece of narration told from different points of view.
Help, Ms English Comprehension, where are you when I need you!
I took my highlighting pencils and escaped to a new writing space. I never liked writing in class.
I scribbled and marked and discovered the difference in the voices in our half hour time limit. This task highlighted every potential narrative trap.
I'm often the last to speak up in a group but I was confident that I'd cracked it. I shared my favourite voice.
"Already he was a smudge in the gloom, striding away..."
sample B (146 words) 3rd person, vivid imagery, economy of language (1 word replaces a phrase), use of sense of smell, the dark place becomes a character.
And my least favourite:
Sample A (219 words)
"He wasn't there. He'd completely disappeared."
Dull. No energy. No vision. No action.
Richness of language comes from economy of words. Precision comes from clarity of story.
How easy it is to reveal your writing problems when you read someone else's work.
Task 2. Write 200 words with your chosen narrator stance. Try something new.
I tried to tell my story from another of my character's persective. Older voice, third person. The character wouldn't be quiet and his voice took over. I wrote three versions and understood.
Narrative stance depends on the age of your reader and the content of your story and why you are telling it in the first place.
I wrote the 1st draft of my story in first person to understand the motivation of my 10 year-old character but I felt that her young voice was limiting. I wrote my next draft in third person to get distance and "go beyond the vision of one character " as Beverley defined it. This allows the narrator "to smuggle in language" and explore.
Final task: Assess your writing.
10 Eggs groan. We know our previously submitted opening pages need work and we can't wait to hit the delete button.
"Don't throw the baby out with the bath water", Beverley warned me in my one-to-one. Trim what you've learned through the unfolding of your story. Don't throw out images - throw out extraneous information.
The character and tone are there. I have a voice!
Beverley reassured me by saying that if she was at her commissioning desk, my story would get her attention. To progress, I need to clarify it.
I need a plan - a Golden Egg BookMap.