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Being Grandad - Chapter book version

by andinadia 

Posted: 17 July 2015
Word Count: 193
Summary: Ch1 of expanded version. I aim to finish it within a week. It's not a fair challenge for any comers, as I'm just converting a pb. But maybe someone might join me the following week, when I might write a second story based on the same characters, or something new. Wordcount: 6000-9000. This first chapter is 191 words, so that means 30+ chapters - far too many, so I'll need to put more into each chapter! (Or do you think this length works as an opener?)

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Chapter 1
When Lizzie woke up, her mouth felt dry. She licked her lips. Then she coughed, loudly.
Through the wall she heard cough, cough, cough, cough. One high, one low, one high, one low, like a machine. She thumped the wall. There was no point saying anything to them. The thump was so strong it made her poster of Lionel Messi fall down. It also made the coughing on the other side of the wall stop.
“You OK in there, Lizzie?” her mum called.
“Ye….” The word got stuck in her throat. She coughed again. There was a glass of water from last night. It was probably covered in dust by now. Never mind. A bit of dust couldn’t hurt.
“Yes, mum,” she called back. Then she got out of bed. It was easy to get out of bed on Saturdays.
“Breakfast will be ready in a minute,” Mum called. Saturdays meant different. Different meant sausages, or eggs, or even waffles. “Can’t be the same every day,” Mum liked to say.
But what Lizzie really wanted was some hot milky coffee. That was strange. She did not like coffee. Nor hot milk.

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Comments by other Members

a.m.edge at 16:39 on 19 July 2015  Report this post
I'm not sure what's going on with the coughing at the start. Lizzie coughs but who's on the other side of the wall? Is it her mum? We are led to believe it is her mum from her question, "You ok in there, Lizzie?"

What about starting with:

When Lizzie woke up, all she really wanted was some hot milky coffee. That was strange. She did not like coffee. Nor hot milk

Immediately you've piqued our interest. 
I know it doesn't help with the word count expansion but it puts us straight in there.

andinadia at 17:48 on 19 July 2015  Report this post
Oh, Annie. You're right of course. But that's how the first version started in fact!

Issy at 13:15 on 20 July 2015  Report this post
Hi Andy - yes I do like Annie's suggestion - we know something weird is going on straight away.

The thumping on the wall and Mum responding made me think that mum was in the next room. But later on she talks about breakfast being ready in a minute, which suggests that it isn't Mum who is in the next room coughing. If it is a mysterious cough from a mysterious individual then maybe there can be a reaction from the mc, or a suggestion that the cough wasn't like anything she had heard before.

I must admit I have never been very successful at changing a pb to a chapter book (or even a poem) - which I think comes from thinking of the material in a completely different way. I think this could work well as a chapter, but 30 chapters does seem to be too long, so it probably does need to be amalgamated into the 2nd and even the third  chapters.

I am wondering if the mysterious events are going to continue ie the change of drink, and the coughing.

Breakfast being different  actually feels in a different league as it is always different on Saturdays - but maybe it turns out to be completely different to any other Saturday breakfast?  Just an idea, as I can't guess what happens next!

Would like to red more.

a.m.edge at 14:02 on 21 July 2015  Report this post
Just on the general topic of early/first chapter books, I'm sure I read an agent post somewhere online about how agents aren't generally interested in an author offering early chapter books. I can't remember her reasons now either. Something to do with a potential for a series, I think, or are they done 'in-house' by the publisher?

andinadia at 21:14 on 21 July 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Barbara. That makes me think. I can see what you mean for sure, about the challenge of changing a pb into a chapter bk! I do know I've got to develop the relationships more, and also I have to give it more humour!

Annie, I think I remember reading that too, now you mention it. But I think I've also read the opposite. The thing with books for this level, they're almost all in series. But I did go back and re-read some Anne Fine chapter books, and realised once again how good they are. I don't think any publishers write chapter books in house ... pbs yes, sometimes.

Tresbita at 21:58 on 22 July 2015  Report this post
What age range is it for?  I usually expect a first chapter to give me some more detail about the characters and a bit more of something happening to wet my appetite to read further.  Maybe with chapter 2 and 3 it would give it more detail.  (I have no expert knowlege to base this on!!). 

Skippoo at 21:47 on 24 July 2015  Report this post
HI Andy,

Like the others, I was confused by who was coughing. I found it odd that Lizzie coughed and then someone else did, without it being made clear it was someone else, if that makes sense. And yes, is the 'somone else' mum?

I can't think of much else to say, but agree with the others also on the idea of perhaps adding more obvious intrigue straight away.


andinadia at 11:32 on 25 July 2015  Report this post
Thanks Tracy - it's for 6+ I guess. Yes, it's a bit of a mess still. As Barbara said, it's a challenge to turn a pb into a chapter book.

Thanks, too, Catherine. The coughing on the other side of the wall is meant to be her older twin brothers in their bedroom the other side of a fairly thin partition wall, making fun of her coughing. Mum is in the kitchen. Clear as mud.

Skippoo at 14:02 on 25 July 2015  Report this post
Ah, that makes sense now, Andy. And easily corrected! :-)

mackernally at 14:00 on 02 August 2015  Report this post
Well, you've got my interest, Andy. It thinks it works well as an opener. A fine balance of dialogue and narration.
(What about illustrations? Or what is the story with illustrators? Are they very expensive?)
I like the "all is not as it seems" quality about it.
Some lovely, little observations -
"It was easy to get out of bed on Saturdays."
How true.
"Saturday meant different. Different meant sausages or eggs . . . "
That was always the case in our house on Saturday.
And the coffee dilemma -
"But what Lizzie really wanted was some hot milky coffee. That was strange. She did not like coffee. Nor hot milk."
I think I know what she means. I knew a chap once who, on being asked if he liked milk, replied, "Yes, but I hate the taste of it."
I wouldn't mind taking you up on your offer, Andy, regarding a second story, based on the same characters. What have we got to lose?


andinadia at 11:16 on 03 August 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Sean. This is intended as an early grade chapter book, with plenty of line illustrations. (The publisher - if and when! - would take care of the illustrations.) 

My ambition to complete it in a week went up in thick smoke, but I still hope to do it sooner not later. 

I like how you interpreted my idea - if I understand what you mean! 

What I had meant was a challenge in which at least 2 of us members commit to completing drafts of the same kind of genre of book within an agreed period. This story (Being Grandad) has a head start as I've already written it as a picture book, but it needs expanding for a slightly older audience - ie the age of the main character.

mackernally at 13:25 on 03 August 2015  Report this post
I wonder would this chart re Piaget's Theory be helpful in writing for children? 

Tresbita at 23:11 on 07 August 2015  Report this post
I never commented and meant to! I think the chapter needs more detail, it feels too short. Can you add the second chapter and see how it works? I was also confused about who was coughing.  

When I read any book I always read the blurb on the back, is it worth giving us the blurb to put us in the mood for the kind of book we are getting. 

purplemurph at 17:45 on 05 September 2015  Report this post

Just a little off topic, picking up on the early-readers/agents comment.

I read something similar and that it was to do with spine-width and the fact that smaller books are 'drowned' on the bookshelf by longer (thicker) books. If they become a series then they become more visible as a collection and sell better.


Trina at 22:51 on 17 March 2016  Report this post
Hi, I also thought it was the mum on the other side of the wall. I think maybe in the first chapter we need to start caring about the MC or at least become intrigued so maybe a scene with a stronger hook at the opening or a reveal of some intriguing characteristic, something that makes us want to know more.
Please post more. I'm looking forward to reading it all the way the ways through. 

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