Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Story A Week: Arabella Twirls

There is a story this week, but it's in a Word document and not here. I'm not quite ready to post it yet because I like it and I think I might ... maybe ... when it's ready ... try to get it published as a picture book. (NOTE: Aggh, that sentence was confusing. (Thanks, Myrna!) What I meant to say was, I'll only post this story in the future if I decide *not* to submit it to agents or publishers. I don't recommend posting stories you are considering submitting for publication on your blog, or anywhere else on the internet for that matter. Publishers don't like it if they're trying to sell something that you've offered up for free elsewhere.)

Because there can never be too many books for little girls about ballerinas, right? I know I've been shelling out money lately for books about ballerinas because I have two ballerinas in my house. And they like to read books about other little ballerinas. And there don't seem to be enough of these books in the entire world to satiate their craving.

So, I wrote Arabella Twirls, about Arabella, who can't twirl without falling over. The recital is coming up and Arabella's nervous. Will she learn the secret to the perfect pirouette in time?

I sent the text to a writing friend I found on Verla Kay's Blueboards. She critiqued my gecko story and I've critiqued a couple of hers too. I sent her Arabella to see what she thought.

She had great advice for me, but one of her comments struck like a bolt of lightning: "Maybe try and make Arabella more proactive about overcoming her obstacle."

Hmm. Yes. Yes. Hmm.

See, this critique partner is GOOD. No, no, that was an understatement. She's AWESOME. She not only found the root of my problem in this short story, but the root of my problem in EVERY SINGLE STORY I WRITE, including novels!

I don't know how to make my characters proactive. This is a handicap, people!!

I think it is because I have a problem being proactive myself. So my characters invariably limp around trying to find other people to help them.

What can I do to overcome this? Will this doom my writing career? I think it could. And I'm serious. Lack of proactivity is a like a disease. It spreads through the plot and ruins EVERYTHING.

I need to get proactive and overcome this obstacle. I need to figure out how to write outside myself, to let my characters do things I would never dream of doing. My characters need to be smarter, more creative, more ingenious than I.

How in the world can I make that happen? Maybe identifying the problem is the first step towards a solution.

All I know is, if I ever figure out a way to overcome this, it will be by the grace of God. I'll keep you posted....


  1. First, how could any character be smarter, more creative, more ingenious than you*?

    But if really your characters do need a proactivity-boost, is there counseling for them?

    Or can you just create a niche market for books with characters that are not-so-proactive and that is just part of the appeal?

    *I'm pretty sure that all of this writing, editing, querying, peer editing, and more writing IS pretty proactive, Amy!

  2. If this is a story that you want to sell, you don't want to post it on the internet. Most editors (although there are exceptions) don't want to see stories that are already public domain.

  3. Thanks, Myrna! Yeah, that's why I didn't post it. :) If I change my mind and decide *not* to try to get it published, then I might.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Kim. Maybe I *should* start a trend of non-proactive characters. That would suit my personality perfectly. :)

  4. Hey Amy- This post had me noddin my head since I'm reworking (rewriting sounds so serious) the first few chapters just for this...and microtension. Thaks for your input. It's really helped me to understand what needs to be fixed.

    And I'm reading 'The Optimist's Daughter' by Eudora Welty right now. How was 'The Ponder Heart'? I'm tryin to fill in some gaps in my reading education. Trying Henry James next, but I'm scared that my brain is too used to YA. LOL


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