My “vacation time” away from posting new stories and illustrations was very helpful. In the evenings, I would sit with my chickens, read one of several how-to-write-a-novel books from the library, and then jot down ideas in a small notebook. (Some of those ideas from the notebook were used in the background of today’s main illustration.) Then in the mornings, I would type away.
One of the easiest suggestions I read was to be sure that there is a central message or theme to the novel. It should be short. It should be a summary of the entire novel. It should make potential readers wonder more about the novel. You can read it in the words for today’s illustration: “Sometimes the only light is you.”
But everything else was not so easy. With a post story, I most often write about cute little chickens doing cute little things to hold a reader’s interest for just a few short minutes. But a novel has a much longer reading time. Cute does not last long in a novel.
A novel usually needs a main character who has a conflict situation (what the external surface plot is about) and a character flaw (what the real internal story is about). There has to be one “What will happen next?” moment after another.
When writing posts, I almost always present my chickens as “living in the best situation ever and being just about the best chickens ever.” Hardly ever any conflicts. Hardly ever any flaws.
One of the most difficult thing about having chickens as main characters is making their lives and problems relevant to readers. (It has to be about more than finding worms.)
Hopefully all of these difficult things have been accomplished in this short excerpt.
“Today is the day my new wonderful life will begin,” said Pearl, though there were no other chickens nearby to hear her.
It was the day Pearl had been anticipating. It was the day when her life would finally make sense and come together. It was the day when she would be a hen, accepted and loved by all the others at last. It was the day she was going to lay her first egg.
“I can just feel it,” she told me when I brought out their breakfast salad. “Do I look any different yet? I just know I’m going to look different.”
“You look much happier, Pearl. You truly do,” I said.
She felt as if she must surely glow with joy in the early morning sunlight. She had a few bites of chopped apple to fortify herself for her triumph.
“Finally I will fit in, and the others will love me,” she told me as she headed up to the nesting boxes. “I can hardly wait to start soaking up all of that love!”
The others continued eating their favorites from the breakfast salad. Laying eggs was something they did every day. They did not understand what the big fuss was about.
This was nothing new for Pearl. She had never been understood by the other chickens.
“You must fit in. You must not stand out from the flock,” they would tell her. “If you really feel like you need to be yourself, then you need to go somewhere and do it alone, with no one else looking.”
Pearl did not care whether she was understood or not. She only wanted to be loved.
None of the others except for Blanche ever wanted to be around her, not even when it was time to roost at night. She tried to be like the others with all she knew how to do, and then the next minute there would be another chicken calamity. Feathers would get ruffled. Pearl’s head would get pecked.
“Be.” Peck. “A.” Peck. “Normal.” Peck. “Chicken.” Peck.
“Why can’t you just be a normal chicken?” is what she would hear every day.
Pearl was an outcast.
Once she laid her first egg, she would be a hen just like the others. She would fit in, and her life would turn around for the better. It was what Pearl believed. It was what I hoped.
But not everything turns out the way we believe and hope.
Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!
The novel I’m working on is based on two posts from last December titled “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In the novel, Pearl will be “The Only Light” in The Bottle Cap Lady’s life.
By the way, the title of today’s post is a reference to “Lions And Tigers And Bears! Oh, My!” from the film “The Wizard of Oz” which was used as an example in several how-to books.