My daughter asked me to write her a story. I think much of this is driven by the fact that she knows I wrote a book, and someone (not me) let the cat out of the bag that it was dedicated for her. My reason for wanting to hold this back is that Beneath the Sky is perhaps a bit mature for even a precocious eight-year old. So, she wants another story, one she can read.
In fact, she went so far as to tell me what it should be about. Specifically, it should be about a girl who goes to school. She’s heading off to third grade in the fall, so I expect she’s looking forward to some story in that regard. So, I have my setting and my protagonist, but I don’t have a plot.
Sure, I’ve got plots. I’ve got loads of plots. Plot ideas come oozing out of my head like too much Play-Doh under pressure, but these are plots about murder, oppression, revenge, and deceit. Sure, there’s other stuff in there like plasma cannons, demons, and occasional bits of hot lusty sex. Hmmm, not sure that’s making it any better.
Ultimately, none of the stories I’ve thought about in the last ten to twenty years have been terribly appropriate for a little girl heading into the third grade. Of course, I know her innocence is temporary, and somewhere along age fourteen or fifteen I’m going to have to answer questions about getting tassels to spin in opposite directions, but for now, I want something that’s a bit more tame.
And I’m drawing a blank.
I barely even remember the third grade, let along the relevant plot points. About all I do remember was learning the times tables and playing Thomas Edison in the school pageant. I don’t even remember pining for the lovely Miss Anne-Marie since she was in a different class that year.
So, what conflicts does a kid face in the third grade? Hitting her up with performance anxiety isn’t exactly thrilling me, but so far the alternatives will likely induce demon-filled nightmares for the next dozen years.
Dealing with someone who is mean in a constructive manner.
Lord knows I could have used that myself at that age. (I had 2 Anne Maries, and one of them was a torturing bitch of a bully….)
Yes, by feeding them to demons…
No, wait… third grade problems, third grade solutions. Ok. I think I can do that.
Maybe. The lust for revenge still has a Hamlet-like draw to it.
If you’re going for a story set in the real world, I’d say the biggest conflicts faced in 3rd grade would be bullies, peer pressure, and feeling “different” from the other kids in some way (physically, mentally or emotionally).
I guess it depends on whether you want to write her a story that will entertain her, or a story that will teach her something. (Or both.) Certainly you can go down the “ways to deal with bullies” path. But, since you’re a sci-fi writer, why not throw in some alien adventures, or space travel, or time travel, or some other exciting element? Especially if you want to include elements of “accept people for who they are on the inside”.
But what do I know, I’ve only got young boys who like monsters and aliens and heroes with shiny swords decapitating hideous creatures in swamps. 🙂
Well, there’s always the possibility of monsters in the boiler room. I don’t know if this school *has* a boiler room, but it’s not someplace she’s likely to go.
Schools are inherently terrifying places — especially outside school hours.