Telling Stories

My oldest daughter has been observing my novel writing process with the eyes of a hawk. The other night she sidled up to me as I was working and asked if I would help her write her own book.

“What do you want to write about?” I asked.


“What about books?”

“I don’t know,” she sat down. “Something with magic.”

We talked about it for a few minutes and, once I realized she was serious about the project, I helped her outline the book. We created a ten chapter outline on a single sheet of note paper and I quizzed her on what she wanted the book to be about.

“Well, there’s this girl, you see, who really likes books. She loves how they take her on adventures and stuff. And then there’s this evil wizard who starts making the books disappear. And maybe there’s a magic necklace or something that she can use to fight the bad wizard. And then she’ll get to read all of the books that disappear. And the girl has a best friend who is a princess. They get to play together at the end. I want a whole chapter on that.”

We gradually outlined the thing, settling on a title of “Journey to the Heart of Books,” a YA fantasy that will obviously be heavily influenced by her current reading choices of “Harry Potter”, “Inkheart” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and started a manila folder where she could keep her notes and ideas.

After finishing the outline, we labeled ten 3X5 index cards with the title of each chapter.

“Now you need to write down 5 things that should happen in each chapter,” I told her, “starting with chapter one. Who is this girl? What’s her name? What does she look like? What does she like to do? What is she afraid of? That kind of stuff. Once you’re done, move on to chapter two, and so on until you have 5 things for all 10 chapters.”

“Then what?”

“Then we can write the book.”

After she had the basics, I left her alone to work on it.

Then our youngest daughter sidled up to me as well.

“Daddy? Will you help me write a book too?”

Here we go again.