Shaun the Sheep
I watched a British cartoon online with my grandchildren this weekend. Shaun is the smallest sheep but he always gets into trouble. A head of cabbage flies out of a truck and he decides to play soccer and gets the other sheep to go along with the idea.
There’s one very large furry sheep that ends up with items stuck in his fleece. When Shaun kicks a head of cabbage and it breaks a window, he goes up the steps and retrieves it, throws it out the window and it ends up in the mass of fleece. In order to retrieve it, he first pulls out a boot, then a horn and finally the cabbage.
When thinking about writing a novel, it seems we do the same thing. We start out with a small idea. Then the thought (the head of cabbage) flies out at us and gives us something to work with. We play around with the ideas, kick it around, get a goal and think we finally have it.
But alas, the cabbage gets kicked out of the field and there’s that sagging middle. How can we save it? The dog guarding the sheep falls asleep and the sheep continue struggling with the head of cabbage. The pigs snatch it, but the sheep retrieve it and go on with their game.
Finally, their game is back on track and the cabbage gets kicked into high gear. A flying duck ends up swallowing it and bloats up, flying off with the cabbage.
If we think of it, that’s how our stories go. We start off, get the idea, play around with it, get stuck, get more ideas and finally get the novel to where we think it should be.
Sometimes it works and we have our novel where it should be. Sometimes that flying duck takes it in the wrong place and we start on draft two or three or even ten. Eventually we’ll get there. But like the sheep, we have to keep trying and trying.
If you want to watch Shaun and his friends, take a look. http://www.metacafe.com/watch/691228/shaun_the_sheep/