Since participating in ReFoReMo 2015, I have drafted three picture books and am looking at new approaches to the seeds of ideas I have squirreled away. Each of my stories have sprouted with the care and attention I gave to my writing and reading during March.
First I Picked the Varieties--
At the beginning, I chose books randomly. (More was better, right?) One had a pretty cover; one had a nice title; another was “recommended.” But as the month continued my choices narrowed. Superficial details took a back-seat to what was needed. I was beginning to grow as a reader and author.
The first idea sprouted while I was reading books with distinct voice and unique narration. I love the Cajun dialect and the folksy narration in PETITE ROUGE by Mike Artell. WEASELS by Elys Dolan and PRESIDENT TAFT IS STUCK IN THE BATH by Mac Barnett both break the 4th wall and address the reader directly to bring the reader into the story. All three text excel in voice. Instinctively, I knew this was what my stories needed.
Then, I purposefully chose books that used simple repetition like BUNNIES!!! by Kevan Atteberry. Another story that made me laughed out loud was ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Laura Gehl. Despite the minimal word count, these stories create enormous tension in plot as the exaggeration builds. These texts fed my story structure.
What I Need #3: My Notes (The Soil and Seeds)
Although most of what I was learning during March was a direct result of the books I read, a true “seed” of an idea can come from anywhere. Luckily, I’m an avid note taker. My thoughts are scribbled in tablets and labeled by time, “Vacation 2014,” or subject, “Fort Sumter.” I am drawn to historical landmarks, natural settings, legend and lore. These foundations support my thoughts and store them until I’m ready to nurture them into something new. By combining voice, echoing lessons from PETITE ROUGE, and repetition from ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR with a seedling I had stored in my notes, my first story of the month broke through the ground and began to grow!
Other stories I’ve recently cultivated result from the combination of these same elements in other ways.
ReFoReMo has been inspiring! Carrie Charley-Brown, the other participants and authors planted seeds of knowledge and gave me the tools to cultivate new stories. They have helped me grow as a reader and writer. I hope you have too!
“Story” has always been important to Juliann Caveny. She grew-up indulging neighbors with long, windy tales. As a teacher, she shares her love for books while helping students write their own. She writes middle grade fiction, but dabbles in other genres. Her local SCBWI and fellow writers are key to motivation! Follow her writing journey at her blog: Puddle Jumping.