So a few months ago, when we were reading books before bedtime, one of my girls said that she thought writing a book would be hard. I can’t remember what brought it up – possibly when I suggested that the book in question (can’t remember that either) should have a different ending. You know, the “Oh, but what if Edwina the dinosaur squashed that little kid with one big stamp of her giant green foot!” conversations you have.
Or is that just me?
Anyway, I suggested we should write a book ourselves.
So we did – and we’re nearly finished.
It’s an adventure novel for tweens – I think 8-12-year-olds – and is loosely based on our family, and some of the events in our lives.
The first book chronicles the adventures of two sisters who find a strange old pocketwatch watch hidden inside a wall during some home renovations. They wind the watch and find themselves transported back to Ancient Egypt, where they have to figure out how to get home before a power-hungry Pharaoh takes the watch and they’re stuck there forever.
As a teaser, the blurb reads:
Life in the suburbs was peaceful for Jennifer and Susan Livingston, until home renovations uncovered an ancient pocketwatch bearing a mysterious symbol hidden in a wall of their house. While Jen was supposed to be celebrating her 11th birthday, her little sister can’t resist winding the watch, sending the sisters back in time to Ancient Egypt with no friends, no money and no idea how to get home.
When the locals see the watch word of the strange machine quickly gets back to the Pharaoh, who doesn’t know whether to keep the watch for himself or throw the girls in prison for being spies. In the end, he decides to do both, sending Susan and Jen into a race against time to figure out how to hang on to the watch and jump out of 1250BC and get back home in time for cake!
I think it’ll be a really valuable lesson in creativity, perseverance and commerce – not to mention good ol’ reading and writing. In fact, it already has been.
Why write with your kids?
Everyone should read with their kids before bed every night – that’s a given. There are tons of studies that show that this practice gives children a huge literacy headstart in life. But what about writing with your kids? I think that’s even more valuable. Some advantages I can see include:
- Storytelling practice (do we do enough of this anymore?)
- Teaching them to actively use their imagination
- Learning about plot, story arc, conflict, style and pacing for use in all writing
- Learning that if you can believe it, you can do it
- Finishing a long project by applying a bit of persistence
- Learning about other cultures and eras – a little world view expansion (if only in fiction)
- Learning to workshop ideas and coping if an idea doesn’t “fit”
- Understanding context in a story and deciding what’s believable and what’s not
- Being supportive of others’ ideas, and the use of constructive criticism and negotiation…
Seriously, I could go on for pages.
So how we’ve been working is that I sit on one of their beds in the evening, give a recap of where we were in the story, and suggest where we need to get the characters to to advance the plot. I’ll normally need to suggest an idea or two to get the ideas flowing.
Then I’ll tease out their ideas into scenes or action and start typing. asking more questions along the way. “Would Jennifer do that if there was a giant guard with a spear chasing her?” or ” How does Sue grab that if she’s holding the watch and her sister’s hand too?”
So we’ll workshop the story and I’ll read it back often so we can check to see if it sounds “right”.
I’ll write more about this soon, and post the first chapter or two here when it’s finished.