A few weeks ago, while I was babysitting my grandchildren, my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter and I hung out while baby brother napped. She wanted us to color together, so out came the sketchpad which was already full of her "sketchings." She asked me to draw an Octopus, so I scrawled one out quickly, because, you know, the attention span of a preschooler. I asked her to name him and suggested we tell his story (storytellers can be so singularly focused...).
She agreed and asked for more creatures in our story and insisted that Oscar, the Octopus, needed a Mommy, and that Chickie, the Seagull (whom she also named), needed a baby. I dutifully obeyed and quickly scrawled out all the characters in our tale, with no more than a line or two of story on each "page."
I am a Plotter, not a Pantser, which, if you are a writer, know is the subject of debate and dilemma. I am not one to come up with a story by the seat of my pants but rather spend a great deal of time plotting and planning. So I was pleasantly surprised that we actually came up with the basic nutshell of a story. I chalk it up it to the inspiration of an intelligent child with a short attention span and a deep appreciation for family (she thoroughly adores her old baby brother and is surrounded by loving relatives).
The Story: Hero wants something. Hero sets out to get said something. Hero has a dark moment, followed by an epiphany. Hero is rewarded for his perseverance and lives happily ever after (or HEA to us word nerds). All told in 8 pages, with just enough text per page for the big reader to finish reading aloud before the little reader is done looking at the picture and is reaching to turn the page.
Hello, Flash Fiction. :)
So this is how Oscar the Octopus, the tentacled little trooper, was born. The story is available on Kindle for $0.99, so take a minute download it and see what a novel-writing Grammy, a smart little cookie, a used sketchpad, and a handful of colored pencils created, and all while baby brother slept.