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Children’s story opening

Hello lovely people. I posted this in the children’s group but I don’t think many people look at the group stuff now. For various reasons I haven’t written anything for ages. I need to get back into it so I have dug out some stuff I shelved years ago. I wondered if you would cast your eyes over the start of this. This is the beginning of the first story in a set of 7 (for reasons which should become clear). I have them all done in first draft form and wondered whether you think it is worth continuing with them. Thanks in advance.

RED

Marlon Mackintosh liked his multicoloured shorts. He liked his multicoloured shirts. He liked his multicoloured hat and scarf. He didn’t like his boring black cabs. They transferred people safely and on time. His drivers were cheerful and his customers were happy but Marlon thought that they just looked dull.

One day he was looking out from his brightly decorated house across his brightly flowering garden. It was raining but the sun was out. Marlon spotted a rainbow. Suddenly he had a fantastic idea.

“Eureka!” he shouted, which is what people shout when they have a fantastic idea. He started to draw up some plans. Then he started to make some phone calls. Soon he and his drivers, along with lots of friends, were hard at work on his amazing plan.

When they had finished, they stepped back to admire their work. The old sign which said “Marlon’s black cab co.” had gone. In its place was a new sign which said “Rainbow Taxis”. His seven shiny black cabs had been re-sprayed and re-upholstered so that he had one red cab, one orange cab, one yellow cab, one green cab, one blue cab, one purple cab and one pink cab.

“Fabulous!” said Marlon, and everyone agreed. Soon the calls started coming thick and fast. Everyone wanted to ride in a rainbow taxi.

One morning, very early, Arthur the postman called. “My van has broken down,” he said, “Could your red taxi help me to deliver the mail?”

“Of course,” replied Marlon, “On its way!” He told his driver, Richard Reynolds, who put on his red cap and set off for the post office. He and Arthur loaded up the taxi with sacks full of letters and parcels.

Richard drove around Arthur’s usual route and Arthur delivered all of the mail on time. Then Richard drove to the garage to see whether the van was fixed. Sid the mechanic shook his head. “Going to be a while longer yet,” he said. “I need a part and I’m far too busy to go and fetch it this morning. It’ll be teatime I should think.”

Arthur sighed. “You’d better take me home then Richard,” he said.

“I’ve got a better idea,” said Richard. “We can fetch your part in the red taxi.”

“Thanks,” said Sid and he gave them the details. They climbed back into the red taxi and drove across town to the suppliers. They dropped off the part at Sid’s garage and then Richard drove to Emily’s café for lunch.

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Replies (5)
    • Hi Kate,

      Rainbow colored cabs and a story for each color? What a fantastic idea! Definitely dust these off! It's hard to give you feedback without knowing who your target audience is. Is this a picture book or a chapter book? 

      But regardless of who will be reading your book, you need to figure out the story you want to tell. Is your main character Marlon or Richard? You've introduced a large number of characters in only 400 words: Marlon, Richard, Arthur, Sid and Emily. When you start to edit, pick one and focus the story on him. The story should be focused on what your main character wants and what's standing in his way of achieving his goal. 

      Just a crazy idea to get you thinking but I could see the protagonists as the cars themselves. After all, you've named the book Red. How about giving us Red's POV as Marlon decides to paint his black cars. Maybe Red is shy and doesn't like standing out and having everyone staring at him. He has to figure out how to come to terms with his new color.  Anyway, I love the idea and first drafts are all about getting ideas out of your head and on to the page so well done!

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      • Thanks Julie. I wrote these originally years ago for my kids long before I ever dreamed about trying to get anything published. I think I am going to have fun trying to edit them into shape. I found them the other day and read them and hoped they might be worth playing with so I am glad you like the idea. I’m picturing them as the kind of thing I used to read to my kids at preschool age so a slightly longer picture book but not as long as a chapter book. 

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      • An interesting premise here, Kate. (Though I thought the last colour was supposed to be violet,)

        Julie is right. You seem to be following an idea rather than a character (which is technically an acceptable POV, but probably not for your target audience). As such, it does feel tell-heavy.

        Her idea of telling each story from an individual cab's perspective makes a lot of sense, especially if each is packaged in a way that deals with a common emotional challenge. You could even do it in such a way as to have a common prologue to all seven stories, being Marlon's idea to paint them all different colours. or almost the same prologue; coloured by each cab's initial personality.

        Also, as they are aimed at children, you might be better off anthropomorphising them, so the cabs are the characters, rather than needing human drivers.

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        • I know it’s technically violet but preschoolers don’t seem to learn the Richard of York gave battle in vain rainbow that we learnt as kids so I was going with the colours they learn. Purple is a more user friendly colour for small kids than indigo and violet I think. I have used the common prologue idea before and I think it works for kids. I will have a think about the anthropomorphism. It would mean quite a few changes as I have some interesting human characters but as I keep being told “writing is rewriting”. The main thing is that people seem to like the premise so I am happy I have something to work on. 😀

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          • I would suggest, Kate, that you have learned too much in the intervening years to tie yourself to whatever storylines or characters you threw into the original versions. I'd say you're probably better off taking the overarching concepts, and perhaps a couple of ideas, and rebuilding. As Julie said, in the above 400-word excerpt, you've introduced us to a slew of characters – perhaps more than you would want in each book given the target audience.

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