Plot Treatment #1:
A. My friends
1. Theme – If at first you don't suceed, try, try again
2. Plot – My friends and I are stuck under the water
3. Characters – My friends and I
4. Setting – The Beach, underwater, summer
We are swimming and suddenly Jessica is pulled underwater. We all follow. We can breathe! INCREDIBLE! We find all the wonders of the sea. We collect shells, see fish, make faces at sharks—everything! We want to get home but none of us can find a way out. Ty finds a cave. GREAT. It leads us to a fierce whirlpool. The one that brought us down here. We should try to swim back up. No luck. Stand under, Katie says. It pulls us up. AIR! FREEDOM! WONDERFUL.
So, how exactly is the theme of that story "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"? If at first you don't succeed at swimming up a fierce whirlpool, try, try to stand under it and it will probably spit you out on dry land? It seems to me the theme was more along the lines of "Being able to breathe underwater is totally friggin' awesome!!!" Which—let's be honest—is a way better theme, although taunting sharks is maybe not the best idea, gill-like capabilities or not.
This book idea was definitely born out of my fervent childhood desire to be a mermaid. It was a desire that had probably lessened in intensity by fourth grade, but you can be sure I had spent many, many a former bath playing with my Sea Wees and/or pretending I was Daryl Hannah. Sometimes, as a rare treat, my mom would even let me pour some salt in the bathwater à la Madison in Splash! In reality, I've never really liked putting my head underwater. But if I could BREATHE while doing so? Hellooo, wonders of the sea!
Plot Treatment #2:
A. The Bikini Summer, Off at Camp, Beach Ball Baby, Perfect, Friends
I think those are all possible titles for the story. My vote's with The Bikini Summer. Nothing hotter than fourth graders in bikinis. Yeow! (Beach Ball Baby totally sounds like a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movie.)
1. Theme – Things aren't always as bad as they seem
2. Plot – Four girls are sent to camp and become an unlikely group
3. Characters – Four girls
4. Setting – At camp, summer
At Camp ['Scuse? No Bikini Summer??? I'm just going to pretend I didn't see this. La la la . . . ]
Ami Steinburger – beautiful, perfect, spoiled
Joy Linlar – funny, a bit plump, short
Carrie Trailor – bossy, leader, tall
Barbie Jenson – hates name, hates water, talks a lot
For some unknown reason, I was obsessed with the name Joy Linlar (???). Don't be surprised if J.L. pops up in another story.
Girls try to sneak away from camp. By accident a
CRAP! That's it!!! What happens to Joy Linlar???
So, just to recap: We're back at camp, which is, as we all know, the perfect setting for a book. Why is this "unlikely group" trying to run away from such a perfect setting? And where are they planning on GOING? God only knows. Then that stupid
But let's not forget about the other girls. I like how they're all given a "second chance" EVEN THOUGH THEY STILL HAVEN'T FOUND BARBIE AND SHE COULD BE FLOATING FACE-DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE FOR ALL THEY KNOW. And there's the whole matter of, you know, the hijacked boat. But whatevs. Those girls deserve another shot at, like, NOT running away from camp. Ami Steinburger, you have some drawings to publish. Joy Linlar and Carrie Trailor . . . I don't know, but I hear that you're a bit plump and bossy, respectively, so I'm sure you have many talents as well. And if you don't? Whatever. Things aren't always as bad as they seem. I'm sure that's exactly what Barbie was thinking when she was in the middle of the lake, dodging a runaway boat and trying to figure out how to swim. Oh no, that's right, what she was thinking was, "This water . . . why, it isn't bad at all! In fact, I think I kind of LOVE swimming! Call me Barb, everyone. Call me fucking BARB."
Next is the outline for the book I actually ended up writing, which I'm sure you'll agree is TOTALLY INFERIOR to The Bikini Summer.
Plot Treatment #3:
A. My brother and his friends
1. Theme – Young people have good imaginations
As opposed to crotchety old 10-year-olds like me?
2. Plot – Four little boys create their own land in outer space
3. Characters – Four little boys and me
4. Setting – In outer space, daytime
Noah, Jeremy, Josh, Will [my brother, who was on the verge of turning four when I wrote this], and me. They dream us into outer space. We have to get back in time for dinner. The boys are fighting over who should be the king of our new-found planet. I have a headache. Jeremy, Josh, and Noah's mothers are at home. They wonder where we are. Josh finally realizes we are lost. I find we can dream ourselves back. All of us. Noah wants to stay. We force him to get us back. Now we're in a jungle. We go through all of it again. The North Pole. Brrr. It's cold and Noah gives in.
Sorry, but BO-RING. Who wants to read about four-year-old boys in the North Pole when we can be reading about Joy Linlar? In a bikini? At camp? I hear she's funny . . .
NEXT TIME: A peek at my fourth grade journal, which contains a fair amount of Reagan-bashing. For serious!