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Write Your Story

“You only fail if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

(from SmartBlogger 138 Writing Quotes to Inspire)

For me, 2021 was a year of wandering. I started out with good intentions. With one manuscript out on submission, I had what I was confident was a great idea for a new teen contemporary novel. Maybe it would even be a rom-com. I wrote happily away, making excellent progress, until, I didn’t. It wasn’t a problem of not planning enough ahead, or anything like that. I actually had written beginning, middle and ending scenes. Enough to convince myself that I had a viable idea. Enough to convince myself that I had an idea that I was passionate about and would see through to the end. What happened, you ask? Well, I changed my mind.

Here’s the thing. Could I make this great idea work? Could I push through the challenges and solve the problems? You know, smooth out the bumps in the road? I could. There was more research to be done for some scenes in New York. Doable. At some point. When Covid is less threatening. Hopefully. But then, I began to take a critical look at an entire subplot which was super-important to the story. It’s not that it was a bad idea. But in it’s current form, it was going to make for a boring pitch. Not appealing to teens. So…why was I forcing that particular version of the idea? Ah yes, because it would fit with New York. Hmmm. Not a great reason to go with an idea.

That manuscript is there, still waiting for me. I’ll pick it up again one day, because it IS a really cool story, but in the meantime, I needed to just do something completely different.

So, I thought of the sage advice, “Write the stories that are your stories to tell.” And that lead me to Islay and Jaxson, two teens who end up having a crazy adventure travelling from Halifax to Edmonton by train. Islay is supposed to be on a train trip with her best friend but ends up with Jaxson, grandson of her grandparent’s friends. They have very different ideas of how this train journey is going to go and the result is a really fun story to write. Being the daughter of a railway man, and loving any trip that involved trains, this was the perfect antidote to a plot where I couldn’t quite get my footing. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Islay and Ron in 2022.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are some favourite childhood memories (especially from when you were the same age as your readers?)
  2. Which activities did you enjoy with your friends/family?
  3. Who were your best friends?
  4. What are your favourite holiday/vacation memories?

To Do:

  1. Write a scene based on one of the above. Use as many senses as possible. Include everyone who was present, what they wore and what they did, embellishing where memory fails. Create dialogue that fits the scene. It doesn’t matter whether or not the conversation actually took place. Most importantly, have fun!
  2. Keep what you write.

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