I find it difficult when I make huge, heartbreaking mistakes. I have sent off manuscripts to agents and publishers, with chapters in the wrong order and have written entire sections of novels through the eyes of the wrong character. When I’ve finally realised what I’ve done, I’ve raged at God for not ‘telling’ me how to do it right first time around.
Yesterday, however, I had an insight into why life might be arranged this way.
I teach eight-year-old boys who LOVE mad, crazy characters and adventure stories. I have tried to tell them that mad stories and characters only work if you mix in a good dollop of normality, but they don’t want to listen to that! So, recently, I gave them free reign to create whatever characters they wanted. One created a MAD baby who lived in a dog kennel, another a CRAZY dwarf, and the other a MENTAL person who couldn’t speak. These characters were members of a family in a T.V series and we spent the following classes, writing dialogue and situations for them. Before long the boys became bored. “This doesn’t make any sense,” one of them said. “My character isn’t working,” another said.
“Try re-writing them,” I suggested. They did. The MAD baby was killed off and replaced with an eccentric scientist and the MENTAL person grew a MoHawk, was nine foot two and, other than being frightened of banannas, was perfectly normal. This time around, the stories and dialogue flowed easily.
Yesterday I gave the same class a story to write using as many adverbs as they possibly could. At the end of the exercise I asked them how it went. To my surprise one of the boys commented, “the hardest part was trying not to make it TOO crazy,” He then read out his best story yet.
After his mistakes, the lesson was learnt.