Some evidence that anyone can learn to write fiction

Presented to you in its unvarnished glory*, as it originally appeared in my 5th grade yearbook, the very first fantasy story I ever wrote.  I was 9 or 10.

The Fairy Princess

Two new people had come to our school.  Becky Harris and Jimmy Patriquin.  Becky was 11 and Jimmy was 9.  I liked them.  Becky had brown hair and brown eyes.  Jimmy had red hair and black eyes.  One day they came up to me.  “Could you come to my house after school tomorrow?  We need you urgently,” said Becky.  “Yes, it’s important,” said Jimmy.  So the next day I went to see Becky.  It was the last day of school.  Waiting for us was a tall boy about twelve with black hair and green eyes.  “That’s Peter Andrews,” Jimmy told me.  When we got out, Peter told us to come with him.  “I’ve got a picnic lunch here,” he told me.  After walking through the forest awhile, we came to a clearing.  In the midst of it, was a wooden vehicle.  “What’s that?” I asked in amazement.  Becky replied, “That’s our invention, we’re going to use it.”  Peter said, “Now, listen.  The princess of fairyland has been captured by witches.  We must rescue her.”  “How?” I asked.  “You’ll see.  We’ll go in our vehicle.  All aboard!”

We climbed on.  There were four seats.  Becky and Jimmy sat in the front while Peter and I sat in back.  Then we started.  I had my seatbelt on.  Suddenly we crashed.  Then we bumped around for five minutes.  Then we went more smoothly.  “That’s the barrier,” Peter explained.  “Now we can go anywhere, the barrier’s tough.”  “Here we are,” said Becky.  Then we glided and landed.  We stepped out.  It was beautiful in fairyland!  “How do we rescue the princess?” I asked.  “Winged horses,” Jimmy pointed to a herd quietly grazing.  We sneaked up and each grabbed one.  We leaped on and away we flew.  When we got to the castle we stopped.  We knew we would have to swim across the moat.  It was cold water.

Peter spotted a secret door.  We jumped in and ran through the castle.  We rushed down a flight of stairs.  There before us, was the door to the room where the princess was.  I tried to open it, but it was impossible.  Then Peter tried it.  After a good deal of pushing, he opened it.  I said, “Peter, you could do anything.”  “Not quite,” he laughed.

Then we took the princess, ran down the hall, and swam across the moat.  Then we took the horses back.  The fairy had wings, so she flew.

When we were back, the fairies thanked us.  We had some food they gave us.  Then we climbed into the vehicle and went home.  I had to go home, but I remembered the fun I had had.

The End

Many things are unclear about this story.  What sort of wooden vehicle was it?  Why did Becky, Jimmy, and Peter require the assistance of the unnamed narrator?  Did the witches set the whole thing up so that the children could have an enjoyable adventure?  They can’t have been too determined to keep the fairy princess prisoner, seeing as how she was in an unlocked room that a 12-year old could open.  I won’t even mention the incorrect paragraph formatting or the irrelevant details about everyone’s hair and eye color.

Other things are clearer.  Apparently I already liked boys, and liked ’em tall.  And, um, able to open doors?  Yeah, let’s not get too Freudian on that.

Not that I’m the world’s greatest writer or anything now, but I have at least written stories that editors were willing to pay me for.  I offer this “gem” as evidence that writing ability has more to do with persistence and hard work than any innate talent.  I honestly believe that most people, if they’re willing and able to put in the time and effort required to learn the craft, can become decent fiction writers.  Maybe not the best in their field, but competent, at the very least.

It can take a while, though.

* I did correct spelling errors and some egregiously bad punctuation.  I’m not sure whether I’m to blame for those, or the teacher who typed this up from my handwritten submission.  Oh, those pre-computer days!

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