When I look back at the person I was almost four years ago, I want to curl up in a corner and sob.
This is mainly because I used to be a weird little child. Not the kind of weird I am now (because let’s face it, I’m a total weirdo). This kind of weird was more of the embarrassing kind, y’know?
Right up there, above those three little star-thingies, are a few sentences I wrote about two months ago. I was trying to draft up a post but couldn’t come up with anything past what you see right there. Today, I was struggling a bit for inspiration, so I decided to go through my old drafts to find an idea.
I found this, and it got me thinking.
As I’ve said so many times before, things change. People change, too, myself obviously not excluded. Even over the short course of a couple months, a lot can become different, and for me, the previous situation sometimes becomes embarrassing.
I’ll look back and cringe horrifically at the way I acted around new people a year ago. I’ll remember my opinion on llamas in the sixth grade and shudder because I was seriously obsessed (don’t get me wrong, llamas are totally rad, but it was getting slightly unhealthy back then).
But sometimes old memories can turn out to be absolutely fantastic.
The other day, I was going through my computer and organizing files from this year that have already grown to clutter my desktop. I opened my “master folder” as I like to call it and I found some of the best things I’ve seen in a long time.
I discovered the novels I wrote in fifth and sixth grade.
There were three “completed” ones (completed is in quotation marks because silly little me had planned out sequels to all of them), and then there were four more in-progress ideas. I skimmed through the incomplete ones and then decided to actually fully read the rest of them.
As I read one chapter after the next, one thing was plainly obvious to me- I did not know how to pace a story. Within one chapter of one of them, the protagonist argued with her best friend, made up with her, fell head-over-heels in love, and defeated the evil villain. And the chapter was one and a half pages in 12-point font. Double spaced, too.
My characters also weren’t very well developed, and there wasn’t much change occurring in them throughout the story. I think that character development is one of the things that really makes or breaks a story, though I didn’t seem to realize it back then. It made me even more conscious of the development of my current novel characters, and I’m definitely going to pay extra attention to that when I get to the editing phase.
Kylie jutted out her hip, placed a hand on it, and popped a bubble with her gum. “What’s up, Korra?” she said. I glared at her and just pointed at Cookie. “Your dog. Except he’s not up, he’s in my doorway.”
– Characters in one of my old novels
I did notice one other very interesting thing, though- there were certain areas of writing that I thought were pretty darn good for an eleven-year-old. There were a couple of my characters that were just so brilliantly sassy, and I find myself wishing that I still could write in that style. I started thinking about it more and more… has my writing quality gone down since then?
Maybe it has. Maybe because my mind isn’t quite as innocent and uncaring and free as it was back then, my writing has been affected.
But then maybe it hasn’t. At least now I know how to bring out the best of my characters and also the importance of spacing out events in a way that captures readers and goes into just enough detail to leave them wondering about what will happen next.
Just like my personality, my writing style has changed quite a bit. And that’s good, because parts of it have definitely improved in a way that I can clearly see. But maybe I should try to learn a thing or two from the eleven-year-old Arya, since she seems to know a thing or two about a thing or two that current Arya might have forgotten. It’s always worth a shot, right?
Lesson of the day: going over old work you thought you would never face again can really inspire you. It definitely put me in a mindset to think about ways to improve my current writing style, and reading over old stories gave me a pretty good laugh, too.
Go out and get inspired, nerdlings.