A mouse went to a shop. He bought some cheese. And he went home again.
This is a story, in so far as it has a beginning, a middle and an end. But that’s about all that you can say for it. Mouse groceries: big wow.
What is the mouse’s problem?
All stories need problems. A problem works like a hook. It feels your collar, it coaxes you onwards. A problem creates conflict, which creates drive, which takes you to the next page, and the page after that.
Introduce an interesting problem. The mouse can’t be late BECAUSE… He can’t buy the cheese BECAUSE… Don’t forget the crucial part the pictures can play. What if a cat is following him the whole way?
Tug, tug, tug. Can you feel the hook?
Learn more on my introductory writing course 20-21 March 2017, GET STARTED IN WRITING AN ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S BOOK. Tickets still available!
It was a good idea. I got a long way into it: world building, characters, plot. Then I dropped it.
Revisiting old ideas isn’t always great. Some ideas stay ideas for a reason: too thin, too odd, too vague. Sometimes you can trace your own development from a poor idea to a much better one further down the line: familiar characters, a joke too good to lose, a villainous name. So not all of your work was wasted. It’s arguable that no written work is ever wasted. Every bit of it sharpens your pen, focuses your thoughts. An idea doesn’t have to end in a finished book to have been worth your while.
The old idea that I have been revisiting doesn’t seem to have cast a shadow on later books or concepts. I think because it was an idea complete in itself. Re-reading it four years on has excited me. The concept is good. Solid. Worth saving, I think. But what it lacks – something I couldn’t see four years ago when I was blinded by my own overinflated sense of genius – is heart.
Heart lies with character. Pull that apart, rebuild it from the heart upwards. If it is rooted inside a structure that you think still works, you could rekindle an old flame.
GET STARTED IN WRITING AN ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S BOOK: out now.