“It all began one morning.”
The first line, ”It all began one morning…” is magical, albeit basic, to young readers. Do you remember the magic that it ignited in YOUR young brain? Plus, you could sound out all the words! The possibilities, the imagination. ANYTHING could happen in a book that started with ”It all began one morning…”, or “Once upon a time…” or ________________.
Stellar first line, though, right? I mean, I’m not being sarcastic at all. I’m just saying that we can all come up with that one. No reason not to complete PiBoIdMo 2013. We just have to describe what “It” is! Uffda. There’s the rub– and challenge.
“It” makes me think immediately of, once again mentioned here on this blog, the 2013 Caldecott Medal winner This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.
There’s a challenging and unique first line that immediately brings you into the problem of the story. Not everyone can think of that one, follow through on it, and then win awards as well as a true audience of faithful readers who really, really enjoy the story (like me).
It’s not that this beautiful book, The Glorious Flight: across the channel with Louis Bleriot would be easy to imitate. No, not at all. The total word count is relatively succinct. The Glorious Flight is gift-worthy and educational, [spoiler alert to my nephew...you may be getting this as one of your Christmas gifts...] [Oh, who am I kidding? Eight-year-olds don't read this blog. Do they...?]. Plus, I simply want to read The Glorious Flight again, not just for its amazing illustrations, but to learn more and enjoy The Glorious Flight again. Tough combination of ingredients for this success. Kudos to the Provensen authors!
That’s the challenge–how do we create stories from our crowded and sometimes jaded minds, for the young reader we used to be, while at the same time writing for the young readers of today?
As writers, we read everything–we read the award winners of yesterday, as well as the clunkers. We read our favorites of today, and we read the favorites of children we know. We count words to be understand the publishing needs and wants of yesterday compared to today. We read all the blogs about writing for children, and we agree and disagree whether silently or in Comment form (hint, hint, haha). As I said, we read everything and then, somehow, we write. We write from the heart, as well as, hopefully, the brain. We forget about everything we’ve read, at least consciously, and we focus and brainstorm and write and rewrite.
Somehow all of this creates a manuscript that an editor or agent recognizes as her own, something she would be proud to share and defend over coffee, or maybe even lunch. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever published, but it fits perfectly with…” may be a line that they share. Imagine it. Dream it. Just write it. And have fun with your Glorious Flight to publication.