Monday, February 16, 2009

How It All Begins

It all starts with an idea. Sometimes it’s jut a glimmer of a thought other times a full blown scene. Then another and another until the whole story unfolds.

For me, I start with a full blown scene and I like to jump right in. In Ordinary Me, it was two girls sitting in the high school cafeteria talking about something they read in the school’s newspaper. At first I didn’t know exactly what they were discussing, I just knew they were talking like most teenage girls do. And I find that most teenage girls talk about, well, teenage boys, so there was my beginning.

After I wrote the scene, and most of the book, I changed the beginning. I wondered if it seemed more like I was dumping the reader right into the story and instead I thought I should explain my main characters more and bring the reader into the story gradually. After two rewrites, I decided I was wrong. I wasn’t dumping the reader into the story at all. Hopefully I was making the reader feel as if they were there the whole time right along with the characters. Have a look at the beginning of the book:

“I wish I could give Allison 100 endless summer nights.” —Brad Stevens

“I’m gagging here!”

Leave it to my best friend, Jodi, to announce
what everyone else was actually thinking.

I stopped reading the Wish List from the Senior
Edition of Wainscott North’s high school newspaper,
Northern Lights, and pushed it across the table to

“Yeah,” I said, only I didn’t really think it. I
thought it was kind of, you know, romantic. Not that romance was the top thing on my mind. Currently the top thing on my mind was trying to finish my
sandwich without choking, while Jodi cut down
certain members of the student body who were sitting
at the jock table less than three feet away.

“I mean,” Jodi continued, apparently not noticing
I didn’t agree with her 110%, which was good because
she is my best friend, and I really wouldn’t want her to think I was weird or anything. Just because I disagree with her doesn’t necessarily make me weird.
It just means she needs to know who, what, where,
and especially, why I disagree. Since I really wasn’t
in the mood for her third degree, I kept quiet.

“If you have an endless night, doesn’t that mean
it doesn’t end? So why would you need one hundred of
them? Hello!” She did the eye rolling thing.

“Really, how dumb!” I didn’t really mean it, you
know, because of the whole best-friend-who-I-want to-avoid-confrontation-with thing.

I had no opinion on the subject. Yes, I know, I,
Kate Sterns have an opinion on everything, which of
course, I always keep to myself, unless provoked to
express it that is.

But not this time.

No, this time I was opinion less.

I mean, I didn’t have a boyfriend, never have had
a boyfriend, and at this rate, probably never will have
a boyfriend. I didn’t have anyone who wanted to
spend a night with me, let alone an endless one! Of
course Jodi hadn’t had a boyfriend either, but she is
prettier than me so she has a way better chance.

Looking at the jock table, I could tell they didn’t
hear anything we were talking about, which was a
good thing, not that they would listen to us anyway.

We were just the ordinaries.

Thanks for reading. Have a great President’s Day!



Morgan Mandel said...

You have such a down to earth style, it's so easy to get hooked into your story. I loved Ordinary Me. It's a great book, not only for YA, but for anyone.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Your characters are so real that they just blend into the story as if we are a junebug on the wall. As awkward and painful as adolescence can be, you capture the moment in time beautifully. I look forward to your next piece.