Here we are, beginning week seven of the eight-week pre-conference challenge on the SCBWI MD/DE/WV blog... and I've finally completed Challenge #6.
This challenge, to write a complete story (title, beginning, middle, end) with no more than 200 words (actually, they gave us a grace window - we could go up to 221 words), wasn't as scary as past challenges have been... yet it took me a week to pick up my story pencil and get started.
What was holding me back? A variety of factors, actually. In this past week, I've worked on polishing my pitch for my finished manuscript, tackled the scenes I've been avoiding on my work in progress draft, put together an arrangement of knitted/crocheted flowers for a friend (my deep water jogging instructor at the local Y) who recently had open heart surgery (no, I didn't knit all of the flowers myself, all but 2 were created by the others in our knitting group, but I did create the stems out of a recycled pool noodle!)...
I had lots of excuses for procrastinating on this challenge, and they were all good excuses. But a good excuse is still just an excuse.
Really, it all came down to one simple fact: To me, a 200-word story says one thing - Picture Book.
Now, I have lots of ideas for picture books. I've written a couple, and they're in varying stages of revision. Most of my ideas are still simmering, not quite ready to put to paper. I could pull one of those out for this challenge... However, I promised myself, at the beginning of this challenge series, that I would hold myself accountable by posting my challenges either on this blog or in the comments area of the original challenge post. And if I post one of my favorite, fun picture books, I'd be shooting myself in the foot in regard to publishing that book.
So I spent the week brainstorming, trying to come up with a story idea that I didn't care about enough to make it worth trying to publish. I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that I couldn't make myself care enough to actually write any of the story ideas I came up with!
Finally, last night, I realized that I was crippling myself with my preconceived notions. The challenge didn't specify a picture book. I could write to any age range! So I pulled out two of the supporting characters from my YA novel and wrote one of their essential scenes (one that is crucial to the backstory of the novel, but doesn't actually belong in the pages of the novel)! Coming in at 203 words, I give you...
Kendra threw her phone across the room. Jarod cringed as it smashed against the wall next to his head.
“Don’t be mad, Ken. We both know it’s not working.”
Kendra glared. “She’ll never love you. You’re fooling yourself.”
“This isn’t about Laina. You and I don’t belong together.”
“You know she slept with Scott, right? Last weekend, she got drunk and threw herself at him. Your perfect little angel isn’t as sweet and innocent as you think she is.”
Jarod grabbed his jacket and stood up. “You’re poisonous. You can’t stand to think someone else might have something you don’t, and you destroy anyone who lets you get close.” He shrugged and stepped outside. “I don’t know why Laina puts up with you, but I’m done.”
Kendra slammed the door and collapsed on the couch. Alaina was going to win again.
She picked up her phone and snapped the case back together. She punched in a number, taking a few deep breaths to compose herself.
“Alaina?” she purred, “I wanted you to be the first to know I broke up with Jarod. I finally told him I could never be with someone who spreads vicious, false rumors about my best friend.”
Now, on to Challenge #7: the Author Bio. This one is much scarier than even the illustrating challenge, because I know how to write about fictional people, but what do I say about myself???
I made a commitment, though. Watch for my "About Me" page to be updated soon!
(Return to my list of "just for fun" stories)