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January 2013

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Rough -- Early Attempts at Novelizing Hound Dog True

Okay people. I'm not going to sugar coat this. Hound Dog True was hard to write. It took two and a half years before it was good enough to send to my editor. During that time, entire characters were created, then disposed of. Plot lines appeared and got ditched. Scenes got written dozens of times -- sometimes because they needed it, sometimes because I had no idea what came next.

I didn't start keeping a notebook until late 2008, so the early days of HDT are hard to recreate -- but I know my last submission of the Promising the Moon picture book (click here if you haven't read it yet) was in January 2007. The first fragment of the novel I can find is dated 5.17.2007.

By that point, I had already determined that Uncle Potluck had a neighbor -- Miss Sweet (whose name was Ona at the time) -- and that Miss Sweet had a niece, Quincy. I had written already about Mattie's first fearful encounter with Quincy, though other than a vague notion of "shyness" I hadn't given much thought to what was behind it. I had also, apparently, decided that Mattie and Quincy would be forced into a sleepover.

What I'm about to share with you is my first attempts at thinking about that sleepover. I will warn you, it isn't pretty. This is true, raw, rough draft, people. Typos. Spelling errors. Sentences that just plain stop. Ready? Okay. Early Bits of Hound Dog True

If you have a copy of Hound Dog True around, you can compare this with what is on pages 51-53. Some elements are there. The sleeping bags. Uncle Potluck playing cards in an adjoining room. Mattie's discomfort. But there's no scene yet. No momentum. I was just trying to figure out What Happens.

My best drafting days are a little neater. Those days, scenes emerge -- usually in the character or narrators voice. While I don't outline, on my best days I seem to be directed by my knowledge of the character and confidence that she will tell me her story.

At this point in the writing of Hound Dog True, I didn't have that confidence. I wasn't sure yet why Mattie felt the things she did. It would take much more drafting and imagining before I would know.

But we'll talk about that next time.

Meanwhile: I want to remind you that you can win a copy of Myra Wolfe's swashbuckling picture book Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime by leaving your name in the comments section on my Word Press blog here or at LiveJournal here.


You had a beautiful storyboard in the summer of 2008 because you showed it to me. And you had words. But I don't know how many. :)

You know I haven't read HDT yet, and you know why, but I think you might have read some version of this to me at some point? Because "You missed a button" sounds really familiar.

Thank you for sharing your process with us.

Edited at 2011-10-07 12:03 pm (UTC)
I made that storyboard at Boyd's Mills! And I had the voice by then, too. What is above is more like pre-writing, which I don't do much of in general, but seemed to be important with this book.
Thanks for sharing that it was hard to write. You make it look so easy. Thanks for a peek into your process. HDT is fabulous.
Thank you, Angela.
That's what my first drafts look like, too. Half-sentences and all! I also use the classic [more here]. ;-)