So I’d finished my very rough draft of a second Cooper book and using a cool tip I’d learned from a fabulous Kate Messner presentation, I began to read it through while charting my characters, their habits, the weather, setting locations, clues and much more
in order to make sure I used all these elements consistently throughout the manuscript.
And there, standing out like a sore thumb was my very clever subplot. I loved it’s subject matter. I gave me one very funny scene for Cooper and a new character for him to hang out with. But it had wicked major flaws when written with the main plot. No matter how I tried to finagle it, it didn’t really fit.
“That’s it. We have to cut it,” said my practical dot-your-i’s-and-cross-your-t’s self.
“But we looooooove it,” said my hate-to-let-any-words-escape self. “And we’ll have to cut our new character too!”
It took some sun in the fun to convince my word-loving self I wasn’t really cutting-cutting, I was cutting-saving for another story. And it could be the “major” plot next time in (dare I say it) Book 3?
So I replotted all the chapters and created another new character, getting more and more excited as the pieces fell into place.
All except one. One teeny tiny worry in the back of my mind.
Wouldn’t Cooper tell his Mom if this *un-named problem* happened?
I thought about it during the school day. It kept me up at night. I doodled it all over my notebook while staring at the words ‘Chapter Six’, on my computer screen.
So I did what any writer would do. I asked my teen.
He said, “Nah.”
“You wouldn’t?” Relief poured through me. My plot was good!
One second later, eyes narrowed, I slowly said, “What do you mean you wouldn’t?”
“Really?? Really?” I said.
Still, I thought he was messing with me. I was the Mom, right? That was his job. So the very next day, while I was in the middle of explaining the importance of hands-on research such as watching loons behavior, throwing cement blocks out of kayaks for cause and effect and watching people interact, I threw my hands in the aira and said, “Hey! You can all help me do some research.”
They enthusiastically agreed. I asked my question; If you had this *un-named problem* happen to you, wouldn’t you tell your Mom or Dad?”
The students looked at each other, then at me with grins. Every single one of them shook their heads giving me clear reasons why not. At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But then, some of their responses reminded me of my own childhood, and of all the things I hadn’t told my mom for one silly reason or another.
And then it hit me. I was thinking like a mom again, darn it.
Now I have a sticky on my writing desk to remind me:
“Find Your Inner Middle-schooler – Then Begin to Write”
Edited to add: Mom, if you’re reading this, I survived, so it’s all good, right??? Love you!
Good job, Tam. Listen to the kiddos, whether it’s what you thought they thought or not!!!!! xo
I knew better too, Mona! I’d just slipped back into old habits.
Good call, Tam. Listen to the kiddos, whether it’s what you thought they thought or not!!!!! xo