SHARING (+ cringing) ABOUT FIRST NOVELS

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Hello, everyone!

Just last month, on January 18th, was my four year writing anniversary! (unfortunately I completely forgot about it at the time so there was no celebrating. boo-hoo) But now that I remembered, I've been thinking a lot about how I've grown throughout my writing journey. I like nostalgic things, so I opened up the document of my first novel I ever wrote.

Um. I DIDN'T BRACE MYSELF FOR THE HORRORS I WOULD SET MY EYES ON. It... it was bad. Laughably bad. After I got over the shock that I wrote this, it was quite enjoyable shaking my head at the naivety of my younger self. (I mean, really, Katie? It took your characters days to enter The Extremely Evil Castle, but were able to prance home without trouble once they defeated The Evil Dude Who Was Coincidentally Their Uncle???)

Yeah, very thought out and well-planned. Ha, go me.

Anyway, I wanted to showcase some of the cringy aspects of my first novel, and some wonderful writing friends of mine volunteered to to show theirs as well! (I appreciate your brave souls)

Just to be clear: the purpose of this post is to show that every writer starts somewhere. Even though most of us don't know what we're doing for our first novel, it's an extremely important part of the writer's journey! I've read stories from almost all of these writers below, and can assure you how amazing and awesome they were.

I've kept the author of each first novel anonymous, though I'm linking back to all of their blogs at the end of the post, so be sure to check them out. :)

FIRST NOVEL #1
started in 2011

  •  main characters were twins separated at birth 
  • of course they attend a magical school that totally wasn't a hogwarts ripoff 
  • very inexplicable magical abilities
  • one long lost twin was a werewolf
    • author sent that twin to live with an evil aunt
  • the villain was a guy who taught "magical defense" which wasn't anything like defense against the dark arts, mind you
  • virtually no action tags ever

FIRST NOVEL #2
started in 2011

  • the nefarious villain (in the first confrontation with the heroine) replied to the MC's question with, "it's kind of complicated. I'll explain later."
  • the MC is The Only One who had the power to find the magical charms the villain was after and save the world
  • characters bursting into tears at every climatic turn of events
  • child characters spending a week at a camp and suddenly gaining the ability to defeat full grown soldiers with their bare hands
  • facing the wind as tears stream, whispering something to the distance like, "I'll find you" or "just hold on"
  • getting out of dire circumstances by summoning certain aspects of magic the character didn't know they had... then having that magic never show up again and the character never give it another thought 

FIRST NOVEL #3
started in 2011

  • one of the characters was an amputee at the beginning of the novel... halfway through the author gave him his leg back
  • there were not one, but TWO sets of long lost brothers wandering around, but they had amnesia so they didn't know they were chillin' with their bros the whole time
  • every. single. person. had a love interest or triangle
  • there was a potato fight 

FIRST NOVEL #4
started in 2014

  • daughters and parents couldn't possibly get alone
  • oh! look! The Chosen One from the Prophecy!
  • no descriptions... at all 
  • the Strong Female Character who is way better than everyone else
  • nooo, you'd never guess it but now the mentor character is gone 

FIRST NOVEL #5
started in 2014

  • magical objects were inserted into the story because the author considered it "cool"
  • never used a simple "said" dialogue tag, opting instead to use "he chortled ridiculously" and the like
  • a character was created solely for the purpose of a heart-wrenching death
  • there was no conclusion -- the story ended immediately after the climax
  • so many dramatic, capitalized words
    • example: "But how will we SURVIVE?" You are CRAZY!"
  • adverbs listed in just one page: naturally, simultaneously, surprisingly, politely, quizzically(x2), confusedly, inwardly, boringly, breathlessly, excitedly

FIRST NOVEL #6
started in 2014

  • Hunger Games rip-off 
  • character created only to be the love interest
  • Chosen One Trope
  • made of two parts that didn't have anything to do with each other
  • surprise, you're adopted!
  • surprise, you're the missing princess and there's a prophecy about you! 


FIRST NOVEL #7
started in 2011

  • talking horses everywhere 
    • even the villain was a horse
  • wildly overusing the Chosen One trope
  • SO MUCH convenience
    • literally a flying sword saved the characters once
  • much walking, not much action
  • such choppy dialogue
  • almost no action tags
  • stole names of characters from books + games + movies that the author liked

FIRST NOVEL #8
started in 2008

  • cookie cutter characters that couldn't think for themselves 
    • (i.e. - there was never conflict between characters on the same "side" because they all thought and believed the same things)
  • the main character's motivation was BECAUSE THEY WERE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!?
  • everybody in this medieval setting talking like kids from 2008
  • wait, why are the characters going to this place? BECAUSE THEY'RE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!?
  • completely, ridiculously, piteously, unrealistic fight scenes where one character would kill like ten men by himself without suffering any wounds whatsoever
  • also people killing willy-nilly with no mental side effects/trauma
  • ...and they were killing because THEY WERE ANGRY ABOUT STUFF, OKAY?!
  • also characters suffering many mortal wounds, and instead of dying like normal people, they just. kept, going. because they were awesome people who could just rip the arrow right out of their stomach and keep fighting for the next three days


Many thanks to Jeneca, Jane, Savannah, Alea, Rosalie, Hannah, and Caroline for sharing your... creative... first novels. :P I look up to all of you, and it's cool to see how you've grown from the beginning.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully you're able to gather some encouragement this! Even those amazing bloggers listed above had their first novel woes. (*cringes every time I scroll past my first novel description*)

Such is the journey of a writer. xD

<3,
katie grace
alright, now it's your turn. what were some of the cringy aspects of your first novel?

69 comments :

  1. Oh goodness, now I’m going to have to do a post like this with the rest of my early stories (I did the early Writers tag for a few of them but BELIEVE ME THERE ARE MORE)

    The long lost twins with amnesia! The villain “It’s too complicated I’ll tell you later!” If that doesn’t sound like me I don’t know what does. XD

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    1. YOU TOTALLY SHOULD. I would love to read it!

      Heheh, the long lost twins made me giggle. Most of these made me giggle, actually. :P

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  2. Oh, I love reading about people's first stories! It's fun to laugh when you know you've come a long way! Thanks, ladies, for being brave enough to share the details so we can enjoy them!

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    1. Isn't it awesome? Yes -- thanks again to all of you who were willing to share. :)

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  3. Yeah--I might have to do a post like this too, because I have so many first stories--granted some of them never got finished...but oh yeah. They are bad.

    Like - we're going to take over the world.

    Because we are taking over the world we should eat giant pizza at our meeting....

    That man randomly turned into a dragon.

    That boy randomly defeated the dragon....and he was 13/14???

    XD Good times. When I could write and not care about logic.

    D.G. Snapper | silverphoenixwriter.blogspot.com

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    1. DO IT. Definitely link me to the post if you end up writing it because I'd love to give it a read!

      Um, that sounds awesome. A giant pizza at a taking over the world meeting? YES PLEASE. Sign me up!

      I think most of our logic was a bit askew when we wrote our first story. xD

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  4. First novels . . . *shudders* Yes, definitely best left forgotten. But I did enjoy seeing details about other peoples' first novels; they were extremely relatable. It was also very encouraging to see that these first drafts were from some amazing writers. Thank you Katie and everyone else for being brave enough to remind us where we all started from!

    ~True // atruewriter.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, True! I'm ad it ended up being a little bit encouraging. They had me laughing. xD

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  5. lol #relatable

    I love how we all can laugh at our old work, but it is really cool to see how far we've come.

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  6. Oh my goodness. That was awesome!! Reminds me of my first novel... It was terrible, but I loved it so much. Still do in a way. ;D Hum, I relate to book 8 so well. That's typically what my characters motivation looked like. ;D
    Thanks for putting this together!

    Mikayla || Ordinarygirlextraordinaryfather.blogspot.com

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    1. Number eight made me laugh so much! "BECAUSE THEY WERE ANGRY, OKAY?!" I'm picturing a cast made up of Hulk-like characters. xD

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mikayla!

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    2. Haha, yeah. Anger is such a good motivator. I'm going to have to use that. ;D

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  7. I love this post, it was so much fun to read about your first writings! They reminded me of mine, yikes... XD

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    1. Ehehe, it's so fun to think back to that first novel. And a little scary. xD

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  8. Whew, at least I'm not the only one to have a cringe-worthy first novel. These are so fun to read!

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    1. Believe me, EVERYONE has a cringe-worthy first novel. :P

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  9. This had me laughing SO HARD, way too many of my story ideas/first drafts are literally the same, and everything just magically works out with very few struggles or any kind of character development!!
    I also wanted to say hello for the first time, I have been REALLY enjoying your posts for several months now, but for some dumb reason was waiting for the “right time” to comment! *sigh* and thank you SO MUCH for the comment you left on my blog, your blog is one of my all-time favorites, so I was fangirling😋
    Thank you for sharing REAL stories, no matter how silly they are!
    Lydia

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    1. Aww, your comment made me smile so hard! It's nice to officially say, "Hello!" So glad you commented -- I'm excited to continue talking and getting to know each other through our blogs. :)

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  10. This is the best post haha (and so relatable; the other day I was organizing the word documents on my laptop and I unexpectedly found a copy of a short story I wrote for school when I was 13 that I thought I'd already deleted. I skimmed through it and it was...deeply bad. Wow. Yikes.). Anyway, if you can stand the pain of reading your old writing doing so can be super encouraging because it showcases how far you've come and reminds you to keep improving.
    But oh wow, the cringe is REAL.

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    1. Oh boy, I bet that was an unfortunate surprise. And yes, I totally agree! It's a definite proof of growth in your writer journey. :D

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  11. This is hilarious! XD Everyone's first novels still sound epic, though! A lot like mine which has....
    - LOTS of logic #saracasm
    - evil scientists and science-y stuff (which I actually hate studying)
    - and can relate to the ending right after the climax with no conclusion. *facepalm*
    Obviously we're all geniuses here. XD
    This was really fun to read! :D

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    1. Hah, my first novel definitely didn't have any logic either. And yes to the climax with no conclusion -- that story maaaay have been mine. xD

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  12. I was literally crying reading through those lists. xD Because so many of them are my first novel... *shudders* I'm surprised I've managed to not delete it all these years. It's buried deep in multiple folders...

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    1. I almost reached the point of tears when putting together this post, too. They made me laugh so hard. xD

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  13. These are so great :P THANK YOU FOR SHARING KA-TEA FREN! <3 Also, I just have to say that first novel #3 is my favorite :P I'M LAUGHING OUT LOUD ABOUT THE AMPUTEE GETTING HIS LEG BACK. And the potato fight sounds very hilarious XP

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    1. THAT MADE ME LAUGH, TOO. Hahaha, I love the indecisiveness there. "wait, no, he needs his leg again!" :P

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  14. Sounds like a lot of my first attempts. It's fun to laugh a yourself sometimes.

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    1. Isn't it? It's fun to see the growth. xD

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  15. So very relatable! Every once in a while I’ll glance through my first novel, which has, among other cringey things:
    -Two twelve-year-olds who are somehow experts at engineering (???)
    -A character who randomly wants to kill the MC, and
    -Characters who literally say the exact same things (no character development, either!)
    But hey, we all had to start somewhere!
    And may I just say, that potato fight sounds EPIC!!!

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    1. Oh my goodness, those made me giggle. I'm picturing these little expert engineers wearing uniforms that are far too big for them and the thought of that makes me smile. :D

      RIGHT?! I totally would read about that potato fight, hehe.

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  16. "It's kind of complicated. I'll explain later." OH GOSH IF THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE WRITTEN. XD These are gold.

    SO here we go with my first novel (which I'm actually still working on to this day... rest assured it has changed A LOT)...

    -I always pictured one of the MCs looking like Peter Pevensie from the Narnia movies... and in the first chapter of my book all the characters sat around and watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Wow. Clever.
    -Long-lost twin sisters; one was young and beautiful, the other was old and ugly. Explanation? There wasn't one.
    -I had TEN MCs. When asked if they all had their own personalities, I said, "Well... Charlie likes barbecued chicken."
    -Random herd of talking bison
    -Random prophecy that said the item they were looking for to save the world would be found inside a golden cat???
    -Cut back to the real world where the parents of the teenagers who have inexplicably disappeared (but WE know they went to a magical world) are talking about their daughter, and the dad makes the mom feel better by basically saying "Alice took it really well when her hamster died. Wherever she is, she'll be fine."

    ...

    Oh gosh. xD

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    1. AREN'T THESE ALL GLORIOUS? Ooh. *leans forward to read yours*

      "well, Charlie likes barbecued chicken!"
      THE TALKING BISON AHAHA.
      It golden cat makes me think of a prophecy in a golden egg coming out of a chicken or something. Not sure why my brain went to that. :P

      These are beautiful, Emily. Thank you for making me laugh with them. xD

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  17. Oh. Boy. The talking horses.... My friends who had seen LOTR by age 12-13 were probably like "What are you writing?" When I was talking about the talking horses who wanted to save the world...
    Yes, all those old documents are painful to read through!!!
    Thanks for being brave, it makes the rest of us feel better!!!
    astoryspinner.blogspot.com

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    1. It makes me laugh over how many people had talking horses/animals in their first story! How funny. :P

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Erica!

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  18. Uh...one of my first novels included...
    -Main characters called Adrian and Sandra
    -long lost TRIPLETS (I've just one-upped everyone else :P)
    -A group of bow-wielding forest-dwelling, beautiful humans ruled by a wise and powerful queen (don't know if I ever got as far as actually writing those suspicious people though)
    -a forest full of...giant spiders.
    -a portal through a blue moon (probably the only original thing in the story)
    -and we don't need to go and further :D
    Anyway, this was a fun read! I cringe when I think of my old stories, but we all need to start somewhere, and with something.

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    1. Whoaah, triplets? Yup, you win an award for taking it one step further. xD

      EW GIANTS SPIDERS. *shudders* Nopenopenope.

      Okay, the portal through a blue moon actually sounds really intriguing? There's something rather magical about that. :D

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    2. I honestly think it was the only thing fairly original and it's still an intriguing concept, so I might reuse it one day, if I ever go back and write another high fantasy novel :D

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    3. You should totally do that! I think it'd be super unique. :D

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  19. My first novel was dreadful as expected xD But it's good that we've all learned from our mistakes.

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    1. Yeah. I hope I've learned from my mistakes. I fear that when I come back to the novel I'm currently working on I'll cringe at everything. xD

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  20. Oh my word... I relate to these so much. XD My first "novel" (I thought it was a novel when I was six and then at about thirteen found that I was woefully mistaken) included:
    -ZERO original characters. Except the villain. All of the main characters were characters from mystery books I loved. Thus there were also a lot of them.
    -The One Ring randomly showed up for all of about five seconds and had no bearing whatsoever on the plot.
    -The villain was kidnapping young girls "Because I was looking for a wife." Um... So that's why you kidnapped that twelve-year-old? Creepy. How even six-year-old me didn't realize that was creepy I will never know, because that's just disturbing.
    I actually threw this one away some time after I wrote it, but I still remember it. XD

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    1. Awww. It's kind of like a gigantic fan fiction! xD

      WHOAH that is creepy. :P I guess you didn't realize how creepy that was since you were six, but... yikes. That would be disturbing to look back on. :P

      Thank you for sharing and putting your memories in the mix! xD

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  21. SEE THOSE NOVELS. PURE GENIUS, ALL OF THEM. XD

    But awww excuse me but you made my day with that ending comment. Seriously. I look up to YOU, you amazing ninja writer friend and epic person.

    I'm totally going through all these novels trying to guess whose is whose (except for yours and mine, which I already know :P). But woow I feel like such a new writer with these other people who wrote their first novel in 2011 or even 2008??

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    1. RIGHT?!

      Awwh. *hugs* Well, I guess that's just another aspect of our twinness -- both looking up to each other? :P

      Right? o.o I'm so impressed at how long they've been writing for! I'm just a lil newbie at this writing thing compared to them. :P

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  22. I'm laughing right now, but mainly because I relate soooo much to this. The first novel I completed was about a bunch of kids with elemental powers. Shockingly, the main character was the chosen one and had the extremely rare power of fire. And the "enemy" consisted of a bunch of faceless monsters.

    Oh, and the MC went from being depressed to uber-determined after her long lost cousin told her to be brave. XD

    audrey caylin

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    1. Ah, yes. Such an extremely rare power. Go you. xD (but, honestly, I don't think my younger self would've come up with anything better :P)

      Oh boy. :P

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  23. I CAN TOTALLY RELATE WITH STORIES WITH PROPHECIES. I try my best to stay away from them whenever I write now, because with prophecies it feels like a character's fate has already been predetermined / it's important for them to have their own will of their own actions and be held accountable for it (it's also just more interesting when that's the case).

    My first official novel was a superhero crime fighter story where the superheroes got powers because they drank purple Gatorade they discovered in the backyard... probably not the best story idea. xD

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

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    1. AH YES YES. Dude I love what you said about the prophecy part! That's a super great insight. *nodnod*

      Oh my gosh -- purple Gatorade? PURE GENIUS. I'm giggling at that and only half sarcastic because that sounds like so much fun. :P

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  24. Lion alive this was beautiful!!! I wanted to cry because of how perfectly beautiful it was. Our first stories are so....interesting and awful and humorous and ahhhhhhh. But you know? We have to start somewhere. And now these writers are amazing and they have grown and learned from their beginning mistakes.

    And isn't it funny how we so often make the same mistakes when we first start writing? How we often take things from our favorite stories and use the same "chosen one" "separation from parents" and other stereotypes? I love it.

    I need to steal this idea and pester some writing friends to do it with me!

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    1. Yes! It's so funny how we all have the same sort of ideas in our first novels. And I think that's partially because we take from the novels we look up to, which have the chosen one/prophecy type thing going on. :)

      *guiltily raises hands* I might be using the separation from parents one in my current novel. #whoopsie

      DO IT! I'd love for you to link back to it!

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  25. Oh my gosh I'm crying!! This is hilarious, I LOVE IT!! XD

    Ugh, I used to overuse the Chosen One trope too...SO ANNOYING. :P

    "long lost brothers, but they had amnesia so they didn't know they were chillin' with their bros the whole time" <~ Okay, is it just me? Because I actually think that sounds really awesome. O.O

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    1. Dude, that one totally has potential for awesomeness if done right! I think a lot of our younger selves did have some good ideas... they just didn't know how to execute it. I'd love to see them slowly regain their memories and realize that they're brothers. :D

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  26. I'M DYING. Like literally laughing so hard. Aren't our former writer selves just the best?

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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    1. Seriously the best. and the worst, but you know. xD

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  27. This post... is incredible. And also really inspiring because we all came from such cringy beginnings, but look at us now! XD

    Thanks for including me, Katie! And also: I look up to YOU lol.

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    1. *sweats nervously* I hope where I'm at right now isn't too cringy either. XD

      *happiness* I cannot wait to meet you at RM. o.o

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  28. I totally need to try something like that on my blog! You should consider posting snippets from those WIPs if you still have them. That potato fight sounds really interesting. Aren't talking horses everywhere like My Little Pony or something?

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    1. Eheh, that would be funny. I think it would be hard to convince those authors to share the snippets. xD AND YES I AM SO CURIOUS ABOUT THE POTATO FIGHT.

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  29. this is a beautiful post - looking back at old writing is honestly such a crazy experience!
    i wrote a picture book when i was in year 2 - with all original drawings... they're not the best. :,)
    in said story, one kid (the mc) saved another kid (the bully) from falling down a CLIFF. wow. an intense story, for a seven-year-old!

    on a different note, i've nominated you for the liebster award (if you'd like to do it - totally up to you):
    https://thesehopefulhappenings.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/the-liebster-award/

    - charli :))

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    1. Aww, that's so cute! I love how you illustrated it yourself. How adorable to look back on.

      Yikes, scary. o.O But that sounds really touching how the kid stands up to save the bully. :)

      Thanks for tagging me!

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  30. I relate SOOOOO much to like every single one of these. XD This post was absolutely wonderful, I can't even. Y'all are so amazing for sharing these!! This post just made my day...

    My first 'completed' (I say completed, because I gave up on a LOT of stories before finishing one) was basically a Hunger Games rip off...with DRAGONS. And an EVIL MAN who was TOTALLY EVIL, I SWEAR. HE WAS EVIL. SO EVIL. MUCH WOW. XD

    Also, I love how it's like every single writer just communally agrees that first novels are cringey and weird. Good thing we improve as we keep writing, right? XD

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    1. Oh my gosh how epic. I mean... I'd read THG with dragons added in. What could possibly go wrong in the arena? :P

      Yup, I totally agree. I hope I have improved some since my horrible first novel. xD

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  31. #3, #7 and #8 were gold. I almost wanna read them now 😂. This was an awesome idea for a post!!!
    Bri
    forget-not-his-benefits.blogspot.com

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  32. Neat post!
    The first novel I started (but did not finish) was called T. C. K. I think I was 11 at the time.
    -The ‘Technology Camp for Kids’ from the title was actually a ginormous building with identical rooms, yet different-coloured doors to every single room. Not a ‘camp’.
    -The first names. All my original characters had first names from Daniel Boone stories. All the minor-character new-best-friends of the MC (almost all girls!) were not only named for, but basically WERE characters from my favourite stories. Every, single, one.
    -The last names. All my original characters had last names based on types of trees: Rowanoake (Rowan + Oak), Willow, Cedar. The rest didn’t have last names.
    -At least two characters had random prophetic dreams the night before they went to camp.
    -The sister conveniently disappeared in Chapter 3 for... really no reason.
    - Jemima (my MC) was willing to trust these girls enough to tell them everything she knew about the mystery--after having known them for ONE DAY (aka almost the entire book so far).
    -I’m pretty sure the villain’s plan was to get all the kids submerged in technology, and locked anyone who found out his plan in the West Wing. He also stole their physical things they’d brought (books, puzzles, etc.) but left their technological things (a Kindle). No motivation at all.
    *falls on the floor in cringe*
    Plus, I had a 9-page-long Sherlock Holmes story. But let’s not get into all the convenience, villain clichés, and ripping off that was done there.
    Wow, I have come a long way.

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    1. EEP! Monster comment! Sorry!

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    2. No, don't worry about monster comments! THIS WAS SO FUN TO READ. My favorite part is this: "The sister conveniently disappeared in Chapter 3 for... really no reason." I giggled out loud at that. Ahh, our younger writer selves were so amusing.

      Thanks for sharing and reading, Grace!

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