March 28, 2017

Oscar the Octopus: The Story Behind the Story

A few weeks ago, while I was babysitting my grandchildren, my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter and I hung out while baby brother napped. She wanted us to color, so out came the sketchpad which was already full of her "sketchings." She asked me to draw an Octopus, so I scrawled one out quickly, because, you know, the attention span of a preschooler. I asked her to name him and suggested we tell his story (storytellers can be so singularly focused...).

She agreed and asked for more creatures in our story and insisted that Oscar, the Octopus, needed a Mommy, and that Chickie, the Seagull (whom she also named), needed a baby. I dutifully obeyed and quickly scrawled out all the characters in our tale, with no more than a line or two of story on each "page."

I am a Plotter, not a Pantser, which, if you are a writer, know is the subject of debate and dilemma. I am not one to come up with a story by the seat of my pants but rather spend a great deal of time plotting and planning. So I was pleasantly surprised that we actually came up with the basic nutshell of a story. I chalk it up it to the inspiration of an intelligent child with a short attention span and a deep appreciation for family (she thoroughly adores her old baby brother and is surrounded by loving relatives).

The Story in a nut seashell: Hero wants something. Hero sets out to get said something. Hero has a dark moment, followed by an epiphany. Hero is rewarded for his perseverance and lives happily ever after (or HEA to us word nerds). All told in 8 pages, with just enough text per page for the big reader to finish reading aloud before the little reader is done looking at the picture and is turning the page.

Hello, Flash Fiction. :)

So this is how Oscar the Octopus, the tentacled little trooper, was born. The story is available on Kindle for .99, so take a minute download it and see what a novel-writing Grammy, a smart little cookie, a used sketchpad, and a handful of colored pencils created, and all while baby brother slept.


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I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.