Every author knows the feeling of reading old writing, and for most its either a pleasant walk down memory lane or an embarrassing wreck.
For me, it’s a mix of both. In fifth grade, I had a series of dreams about a mysterious box that led to a mystical world. Naturally, I wrote a book about it. I’ve come a long way from “A Diary of Dreams”, but there’s still a lot to learn from my earliest writings.
Nobody loves criticizing me more than me. So let’s take a look:
“Rinnnnnnnnng!” The bell squeals as McAuliffe middle schoolers make their way out the door. Three friends in eighth grade are elbowing their way through the hallways trying desperately to escape outside. “Is this crazy or what!” yells my friend Jasmine her fierce red hair glowing like embers.
I actually individually counted out all those n’s. I think most of us writers go through a phase of unnecessary letters at some point.
As I matured as writer, I learned that certain words simply don’t work in certain places; I wouldn’t want to attend any school with a bell that ‘squeals’. In addition, comparing red hair to fire is very overdone.
As you can see, fifth-grade-me did not believe in the use of commas.
It’s the end of yet again another week of school; Mr. Starner has been giving us so much homework that I wonder whether or not it’s all possible. As we escape outside Brooke my other friend lets out a sigh, “Air sweet air!” she sighs when we squeeze out through the double door entrance.
I am about to grunt in agreement when I see a familiar flash of Gold. “Oh no!” I groan inwardly. My Golden Retriever pup Luna is racing across the sidewalk parting the crowds and rushing straight towards me. She rushes in my arms her tail wagging furiously.
Semi colons and commas get me every time.
If you say “Oh no” out loud, there is nothing inward about it, so that sentence is contradictory. And “Golden Retriever” is spelled the way it is because I was told in Elementary School that all important things in life must be capitalized.
“Luna!” I say fiercely but Jasmine and Brooke are cooing away beside me. “She’s sooooo cute!” exclaims Jasmine scooping her up and stroking her golden fur. “Oh, Emma, I’m sure your mum wouldn’t mind if we walk her home too!” Brooke pleads and she too begins to rub Luna between the ears.
Logic point here, there is no way that an eighth-grade girl can effortlessly scoop up a full grown golden retriever. I know from personal experience.
Also in this paragraph, we learn the importance of using the enter key after each new line of dialogue. Nothing is more to frustrating to a reader than a fat block of text.
“Oh, alright!” I say nastily “But she better behave!” My friends and I are walking home from school, and since today is Friday that means it is sleepover night. After Jasmine sets Luna down I let Brooke hold her collar while Jasmine just watches.
Not long after a deep growl begins to rise in Luna’s throat soon turning into a howl. A golden key is lying near the school hedgerows and its glare off the sun is shining in her eyes. I pick it up curiously and examine it while we continue to walk.
Where did this dog come from? Who was watching her, and how did she get here? I don’t care that it’s Friday sleepover night, these are questions that need answering.
Is the glare of a key really enough to make a full grown dog howl? That one’s up for debate.
Out of the corner of my eyes Jasmine watches me expectantly. “What?” I ask toying with the key and staring at Jasmine. “I remember that key,” she says slowly “Remember that music box that I gave you for your birthday?” “Yeah, what about it?” I say tonelessly.
“Out of the corner of my eyes.”
Also, notice the overuse of adverbs here: the phrases “Jasmine watches me expectantly”, “she says slowly”, and “I say tonelessly” all use unnecessary adverbs.
“I think that’s the exact shaped key! It has the three wedges like on the key whole.” “I remember it too!” Brooke adds “I was there and I saw that box, I’m pretty sure it’s the same key!” “Well I don’t think so!” I say stubbornly. “Oh Emma, stop being difficult! That box could have anything in it! Says Brooke excitedly walking with a spring in her step making her dusky brown hair swish.
I don’t know how Brooke is walking that makes her “dusky brown” hair swish enough to be noticeable, but that is open to interpretation.
This hole story is a mess, isn’t it?
When we do arrive at my house I grab the key and stuff the in the key whole. It doesn’t do a thing, I yank on the box and it doesn’t budge. Angrily I throw the thing across the room and it hits the wall making a small dent. Suddenly I feel the a cold wind whipping around me.
So the mysterious key ultimately serves no purpose here. Glad we spent two paragraphs on it.
I stare at Brooke whose blue eyes are wide with excitement! All signs of anger have diminished into burning curiosity. I walk slowly to the other side of the bed and almost faint when I see what is rising from the box.
*gasp* A cliffhanger!
There is a second chapter (it ends soon after, that was about the limit of my 8-year-old patience). If anyone’s interested, let me know!
QOTD: What’s the most embarrassing, cringe-worthy story you’ve written? For those of you non-writers, what’s the worst book you’ve ever read?