“Once upon a time there was a little girl called Libby. Her family didn’t like her very much. She tried to be nice to everyone but it wasn’t much use.”
“You’re not telling it right.”
“Are not! Should be ‘Once upon a time there was a Big Bad Wolf...’ Every good story has a scary start. You should start with Rex being eaten.”
“Once upon a time, a little girl called Libby bopped The Big Bad Wolf on the head with her notebook and told him to mind his own toenails.”
“If you’re going to be like that.”
“All huffy and snooty and GIRLY.”
“This is my story Wulfie… You’re just in it.”
“Oh,” said Wulfie and shrank a bit. He did this when he was upset. Or sad. Or feeling unloved. It’s much easier to feel unloved if you can curl into a ball and fall asleep in someone’s pocket.
Despite stated intentions to work on a stage play - which sits in pieces on my kitchen table, promising to be funny - I have found myself drawn back into the world of WULFIE and his pal Libby, aged 8. It's a book for 5-8 year-olds, based on an animation series I developed, which was based on stories I made up for my own daughter when she was about 7.
I had already honed the first three chapters so that they were ready to go out but then I asked my sister and niece to try them out on my little great nephew. It is such a fantastic help if you can get people to read your work before you send it out. But based on initial comments (there was mention of a similarity in the writing to that of Roald Dahl to which I am clinging with glee), I decided, just in case he likes the first three chapters, I need to have the rest of it polished up too.
The next reader is in Canberra. Apparently, so long as it doesn't mention the slaughter of cows, it has to be an improvement on the last books he got!
Polishing, in the case of WULFIE means reading it aloud, pretending to be anywhere between the ages of five and eight. But that's not too hard. As plenty of my friends will attest, I haven't really ever grown up, not fully.
It also means having fun with language and image and rhythm, making sure it all fires along at a good pace and is playful to read. Not talking down to kids but making sure the story will carry them along and keep them turning pages.
I'm not sure of the beginning yet. I'm not even 100% sure I'm starting this series with the right story. But I am certain that it will be worth sending out when I'm done.
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