I’m back. I figured if I didn’t depress you so much yesterday that you gave up writing altogether, I could try again today.
Just kidding. Today we’re going to talk about the fun kind of first drafts—those that end up being published.
When my mind decided to change focus from writing for adults to writing for children, I knew exactly what I was going to write. Actually, I was seven chapters into what I was writing when my pastor came up with this crazy notion that I wasn’t writing a novel, I was writing a kid’s book.
Say what? Here I am killing myself to come up with 50,000 words—did I mention this was my NaNoWriMo project for that year—and my pastor comes along and says it’s a kid’s book!
I considered an unChristian, I’m a writer and you’re not, kind of response. Then I got to thinking: Hmmm, maybe it could be a kid’s book.
What would become, Little Shepherd, was born.
This first draft came easier than I thought, but that’s because I had the idea in my head for years before plotting it out. Granted, in the form it originally took—a Christian adult novel—I struggled with it; but as the story of a young shepherd in the fields outside of Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth, from beginning to end didn’t take long. It might have been a few weeks before I was ready to show it to my critique group.
Most of them liked it, but an author friend pointed out to me that it lacked conflict. It was nice that the young shepherd named Obed got a chance to see the newborn King, but wasn’t there more to his story?
This is where “what if?” works nicely. What if Obed just got entrusted with his first flock? Would his sense of responsibility for those sheep be heightened? What if he heard wolves howling in the distance? Would he be as eager to leave his sheep if he thought the wolves would race in and eat them? Despite his desire to do exactly as the angel had told him, wouldn’t Obed be juggling his flock’s safety against going to Bethlehem?
Once that conflict was added in, the story was ready to be seen by the eyes of a publisher. I feel blessed that Guardian Angel Publishing decided to contract it.
This time, the first draft made it to the right end.
***Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.