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Whose Story Is This?

by andinadia 

Posted: 13 March 2015
Word Count: 990
Summary: This is in the same vein as the previous rather surreal one. What I'm trying to do is capture the occasional randomness of children's story-telling, while keeping an overall narrative framework. It's also trying to show how stories are often created jointly, even randomly jointly. If published, the cover might show the word 'is' in larger/capital letters, to indicate how the question is being asked (i.e. in exasperation!)

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Whose Story Is This?
by Adam (and Jake)
(with help from Andy)
Spread 1
This is the first story I’ve ever written.
It was summer. I was out on my bike.
‘Me too, Adam!’
No, Jake. You’re not in this story.
My brother Jake is always shouting.
(a/w: Adam, aged 6/7, is in front of the double page spread, along with his little brother aged 4. Both are wearing T-shirts. It should be made clear that it’s the older boy, Adam, who’s doing the narrating in the first 2 lines. The spread shows an aerial view of his home and street, with the hedge from spread 3 visible. The lines in italics will be in a different font, indicating the conversation that takes place around the story that’s being written.)
Spread 2
See, I told you. My brother shouts when he’s happy and he shouts when he’s not.
There. That should do it.
(a/w: Adam shuts his bedroom door. We can see the inside of his room, which is a total mess.)
I wasn’t having a good day. First, Dad said my room looked like a jungle. Then Pawpaw ran away.
I went looking for Pawpaw. And now my back wheel was squeaking … again.
(a/w: Adam on in his bike, in the streets hat we could see in spread 1. He’s carrying posters to put up around the town. All we can see on the posters is the word ‘LOST’. He’s turning to look at his back wheel)
Spread 3
I heard a noise above me, like a door slamming. Then the sun disappeared. Well, nearly.
The day was not going well. I went flying through the hedge.
(a/w: Flash of yellow and black. Adam flying through the air, into a big hedge full of spring blossom.)
Spread 4
When I opened my eyes again there was this train. In a field. And a lady shouting, ‘Roll up, roll up! Ride your stories here.’
‘Hey, I was on that train too!’
No, you weren’t, Jake.
‘Yes I WAS!’
(a/w: Adam’s perspective. The train is like a theme park train, with open carriages with benches facing each other. Adults and children gathered around, some of them already on the train, including the man from spread 7. There is a lady by the train, holding a clipboard.)
Spread 5
So … there we were, Jake and I, sitting on the train.
The lady said, ‘When you’re ready, just press the button.’
‘What button, Adam?’
‘Just wait and see.’
(a/w: Jake is sitting on the train, beside Adam. We can see some of the carriages and their passengers, including the man from spread 7 again, in the carriage behind, peering around.)
Spread 6
Now we were wearing jackets, with big buttons in different colours.
‘Press the green one,’ she said. ‘It’s best not to press the red one.’
Jake pressed the red one.
(a/w: Close up view of Adam and Jake, now wearing something like safari jackets with lots of pockets, and big coloured buttons.)
Spread 7
A man was sitting opposite.
‘What are you doing in my story?’ he asked.
‘This is OUR story,’ Jake said. He only shouted one of the words. The man got out of our carriage.
I pressed the green button on Jake’s jacket, then the one on mine.
(a/w: Another black and yellow flash. A man is sitting opposite them in their carriage. He looks a bit like Terry Pratchett)
Spread 8
We were in a jungle. The train had gone.
‘This is the where the action starts!’ the lady said. That was when she disappeared.
(a/w: Very different scene. Thick swampy jungle – the Sundarbans in Bengal)
Spread 9
You’ve never seen anything like it. Huge parrots. Poison arrow frogs. Snakes as thick as your arm!
(a/w: Thick jungle, with sunlight breaking through the canopy. We can see all sorts of jungle animals, not only the ones Adam mentions. This is where the reader spots the animals, which should all be authentic Indian subcontinent wildlife. The snake should look a little threatening, looping down from the tree – but not too threatening! There is a colourful chicken/grouse running into the picture. Adam and Jake are looking around and above in wonder.)
Spread 10
This boy ran by. He was chasing a chicken. Or that’s what we thought.
He wasn’t chasing the chicken, Adam!
That’s what I said, Jake.
(a/w: Indian boy of same age as Adam is running after the chicken that’s now squawking and flapping its wings. The Indian boy is looking back over his shoulder, but we can’t see what he’s looking at.)
Spread 11
The lady came back and said, ‘OK, are we nearly done, boys?’
‘Nearly,’ I replied.
‘I’m ready,’ Jake said.
(a/w: Lady reappears, holding clipboard. Ticks something off. In the background we can see the Indian boy and the chicken, with a fairly friendly-looking tiger chasing them through the jungle.)
Spread 12
It was Pawpaw, playing his usual games. He loves chasing our friends!
‘PAWPAW!’ Jake shouted. Sometimes he can really shout.
‘Come on Pawpaw, it’s time to go home for tea,’ I said.
(a/w: There is a kind of tunnel, which says The End. The tiger has stopped and turned to look towards Adam and Jake.)
Spread 13 (single page)
That was our story. Jake’s and mine. And Pawpaw’s. We hope you liked it.
(a/w: The two boys arriving home, on their bikes. Jake’s has stabilisers. Pawpaw the tiger is running beside them, on a lead. Friends of theirs – adults and children in the area - are waving at them from their front doors and gardens. One of them is the same Indian boy that we saw in the jungle, but now he’s in regular clothes like Adam and Jake. The lady with the clipboard is now a lollipop lady. The Terry Pratchett man is walking by too.)

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Comments by other Members

Issy at 12:28 on 14 March 2015  Report this post
A story about a boy writing a story, and his brother chipping in and writing it too, and they are both in it, whether the boy wants them both in it or not.

It is very surreal, and actually very clever. A new style for picture books. It made me think of Douglas Adams but faster paced. I could see each of the illustrations as they came up.

The only real element of storyline is that Jake comes unbidden into the story, which to start with Adam reacts against, and then seems to accept and ends up with "our" story. I suppose it would be prosaic to put in, in the early stages what Jake is contributing, but I think the logical part of my mind would like that. The later part could be unidentified contribution.

If I unravel it, Adam's story is about his missing cat, and the surreal parts are where Jake is interposing his much more exciting bits of storytelling.

It was a relief at the end to have the long view of where all the characters are coming from, so that it feels like an explanation, although there isn't one really.

As must be obvious, I am having trouble commenting, or making any suggestions this story. I like it very much, however, and applaud that it it has the feel of a very new style to it. Also I do like surreal  work, and many of my early drafts are simply surreal images that I then, somehow, get a story round it, working out what I am writing about, from deep inside somewhere. I tend to logic it up. This book is so much looser, and I am intrigued as to whether someone will take it up. Please do send it out and see what happens.

Nice tribute to Terry Pratchett in there.

andinadia at 13:54 on 14 March 2015  Report this post
Thank you, Barbara. Lovely comments! It's odd, but I had put Terry Pratchett in the day before we heard of his death. 

Adam's story is itself surreal because his missing cat is a tiger not just a cat. (And of course there's a nod in the direction of 'The Tiger who Came to Tea' at the end)

I see what you mean about reconciling Jake's inputs. I'm interested to hear what others think about that.

a.m.edge at 14:54 on 16 March 2015  Report this post
Sorry I missed this, Andy; didn;t realise it was the second draft. I've taken to putting SECOND DRAFT at the start of the description to catch everyone's eye.
Loved this. I think the interruptions from the little brother work really well. I was wondering whether Adam could be even more fed up with Jake, and whether, at the end, Jake proves his usefulness? Not quite sure how you'd do that, rescuing Pawpaw maybe?
I thought this following line sounded quite adult. Could it be more direct? "Boom! What was that? A sound like a door slamming in the sky. Then the sun disappeared. Well, nearly."

I heard a noise above me, like a door slamming. Then the sun disappeared. Well, nearly.


andinadia at 16:05 on 16 March 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Annie. You're right, I should have marked this as a new draft. But I thought since new works pop up in the email inbox it might have been clear.

Good comments. I'm so far into this story (A lot of it ended up on the cutting room floor!) that I need to let it sit for a couple of weeks before trying to take in your and Barbara's comments - which were all very useful. I will look and see how to turn up Adam's irritability.

Jake sort of shows his usefulness when he bellows 'Pawpaw!' I realise it's not a very dramatic ending, but I think that's because I was trying to capture the occasional whimsy of young children's storytelling. (The trouble is, whimsiness isn't such a selling point for an author!)


Freebird at 18:24 on 16 March 2015  Report this post
gosh, your imagination is fertile, Andy!

I love the idea of Jake butting in to share the story - I think that bit works really well, and is different enough to make it stand out. Very clever.

I'm afraid the story is a bit too surreal for me, in that it doesn't really have a plot thread that I can follow. I can see the scenes vividly in my minds eye, but personally I need a bit more orderliness to a story!
On the other hand, it does remind me very much of the stories that 3 and 4 year olds tell so it might appeal hugely. Or it might confuse them.


andinadia at 13:27 on 17 March 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Sarah. I really don't know now. I think I need to let it grow some mould for a while (and then scrape the mould away)

TassieDevil at 16:59 on 17 March 2015  Report this post
Hi Andy,
I did read the previous versionbut didn't feel I could suggest anything (It was actually a little too strange for me). This version is much better for me to discuss.
The little brother butting in works well as does the nature of their imaginations taking them on tenuous and incomplete adventures. It's almost like a dream sequence where unrelated themes are tied together in an illogical way. - trains and jungles. It's a positive sibling thing to share the adventure and the attitude change to his brother works well. After all, it's his brother.
 In detail.
I can see the link with the jungle from spread 2. Makes the fact that Pawpaw is a tiger that much stronger.

And now my back wheel was squeaking … again.

This seemed to mix past and present. Maybe 'And suddenly ...'?
Is the flash of yellow and black Pawpaw? Not sure about the significance of this, precipitating scenario changes.
Trust Jake to press the wrong coloured button.
Spread 7. It would have been nice to see what story they were in from Jake's red button pushing - the man's story. There seems litle point to pressing the wrong button otherwise.
The rest was great - especially the revelation that the characters really existed in more mundane personnas.
Stretches my imagination so I could see it would do the same for younger readers. And although I initially thought it was more geared to the older brother reader, I can see the Jake's of this world relating to it as well. 

Tresbita at 22:54 on 17 March 2015  Report this post
I struggle a bit with the surreal element.  I liked the ending where all the characters are tied into the story.  Would it give the game away if you had images of all the characters at the beginning of the story so those of us who aren't very surreal could make sense of it easier? 
I think a plot line that holds the whole story together at the start might help, then you can have the surreal elements throughout but it will hang together.  Or something on each page to tie it all in, for example reminding the reader on each page that they are looking for their cat.  Have you read a Day with Wilbur Robinson?  That is quite surreal. 
I did love the interjections of the little brother. 

andinadia at 13:36 on 18 March 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Alan - great queries you've raised. I wasn't sure about the flash of yellow and black myself. I like the idea of showing 'Terry Pratchett's' story in some way. But Jake pressed the wrong button because ... well, just because!

Thanks, too, Tracy - I might suggest that the artwork in spreads 1 and 2 shows the people who will pop up in the story. But when the reader first sees them like this he won't recognise them - only when he sees them in their 'real life' roles again at the end will he recognise them as characters from the story. (A bit Wizard of Oz like.)
What did you have in mind by a plot line at the start. I can see that the plot of looking for Pawpaw isn't doing it for you.
Thanks for the book tip. I didn't know William Joyce at all but he looks reeeeeeally interesting smiley.

kel35 at 00:04 on 19 March 2015  Report this post
Hi Andy,

Sorry I missed this too, but I'm glad I found it!  I think this is even better than the first draft. 

I like the way you have given Jake an endearing quality with his shouting, and random button pressing - a typical little brother! I think Adam needs something for us to associate him with.  Love the way both boys are involved with the story.  Looking for pawpaw seems the ideal way to start their journey.

Young kids seem to like all the surreal stuff, I know my boys have always liked books
that are a bit  'way out there'.  I like the way you aren't sure what you will find on the next page!

I did wonder about the man in spread 7, why is he there?  Perhaps he could have part of his story showing??

Like the nod towards Terry Pratchett too, very fitting.


andinadia at 14:44 on 26 March 2015  Report this post
Sorry for not acknowledging before, Kerry, and thank you for the comment! What did you have in mind re the man in spread 7's story? I think it might be confusing to show a scene from another unrelated story. I wanted to give the impression of a train ride led by some creative muse (with a clipboard), where each passenger is on the way to his/her own story but where the passengers sometimes share the ride for a bit. It's a bit vague really but I hope it works.

By the way, Tresbitha, I looked out William Joyce's books. Fantastic. Thank you again. I also came across this very interesting interview: http://www.adweek.com/galleycat/william-joyce-i-got-127-rejection-slips-before-i-ever-got-an-invitation-to-do-anything/60180

127 rejections!!!! 

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