Can anything, really, happen?

Hello again, fellow fiction writers. I’m reading some wonderful fiction titles on my Facebook page. Well done! My last week’s blog focused on our powers of imagination – or in my case, a distinct lack of. And during these difficult weeks of home schooling maybe we should be taking a few lessons from our children on the theme of letting our imagination run riot and go anywhere it wants to go. Anything can, in theory, happen? Can’t it?

I put this vexing question to my seven year old grand-daughter (over the phone, as we are isolating) – and her answer was a defined – yes. Well, it would be, at seven years old. She is just about still in the age of magic and fairies. In her eyes, we still have the Easter Bunny who comes and hides tiny Easter eggs all over the garden. He is, of course, due next Friday but we may have to be very imaginative this year, as to how he leaves his chocolate goodies. Now there’s an idea for us to write about. Who is he? What does he look like – not just an ordinary bunny? Different colour? Larger than normal? Where does he live? Who with? Who makes the Easter eggs? Could this become a picture book perhaps? I sense my imagination gaining a few wings – and fluttering a little off the ground – trying to take flight.

Before this virus lockdown happened, my grand-daughter slept regularly at our house and would often ask me to tell her a story at bedtime. Amazingly, I did manage to come up with some fantasy tales. One such tale was about a mermaid who wanted to find out what it was like living on land. So she changed herself into a tiny size – found her way from the sea, swam all the way up through a drain pipe and ended up in Natasha’s bath (my grand-daughter’s name). Once in the bath, Natasha saw her floundering around as she was running water for her bath. The mermaid said that she didn’t want to be a mermaid any more. It was boring. She wanted to become a little girl – and would my Natasha help her?

Thankfully at that point, my grand-daughter’s eyes softly closed as she floated into the land of nod – thus saving me from having to come up with more of this silly idea. Or was it so silly? Let’s pick up this half-baked idea and see where it leads. You see, at this point my sense of logic always, always, interferes and I wish I could get past this barrier of rational thinking because it gets in the way of my ‘what if…?

So, I ask myself – how does this mermaid talk? Does she use words? Or funny sounds? How does she communicate with a little girl? How can she breathe? How does she get to school? Does Natasha put the mermaid in her school bag? But it would be wet? Or the mermaid would die? Or would this mermaid be put into a small bowl like a goldfish in order for her to experience life on land? You see the dilemma? Coming up with children’s stories that have ‘legs’ as we often say, in author speak, is far from easy.

Of course young children would not even ask the questions. And this is the point – ANYTHING can happen so therefore – explanation is unnecessary. Just do it! Ask what happens next and write it without bothering about how. Just paint colourful word pictures and take this little mermaid into another world.

Is this the difference between us adults and children? We ask too many questions. Are our questions of – how can it happen – the barriers that prevent it from happening? Perhaps it just takes practice. Just let it go … I tell myself. My problem is that I try to run before I can walk. In other words I try to think about quality and good writing before I have answered the questions that link parts of the story into a net. Maybe I should not even ask questions in the first place. Think like a child! Yes! That’s it! But should it be a modern child with all the mod cons of technology or an old fashioned child? There I go again.

So – when I have posted this blog – my ‘witch’ story beckons. I must think like a child. Banish logic. Banish common sense. ANYTHING can happen in children’s fiction. Yes, it can! As long as it’s not real.


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