Tag Archives: Patrick Benson

Opening Lines

I used to want to be an author. I used to read avidly, literally hundreds of books a year. And I wrote, and wrote. But this was way back in my teens and early 20’s, now I’m 36 it’s been 15 years since I wrote regularly and over 10 years since I wrote anything at all. But inspired by the Children’s Writer blog and behind-the-scenes writing comments from (too many to mention) picture book authors and illustrators on Twitter, I thought I might revisit a story that’s been in my head all that time and write it for my girls…

My aspirations to be an author have faded over time, and I don’t have the patience to really write at this stage in my life but I thought I could manage a short story just for my girls. I hoped to be able to pull the threads of my ideas together, put the words in some sort of order and sort out the ending so it worked. Ideas are easy, writing is the hard part!

With that in mind, I started to think of the opening sentence(s). Perhaps just writing the story down first would be the best idea, but it’s been in my head for so long I thought I’d start at the beginning. Fiction Fridays have taught me that the first sentence can really sell a book to the reader. The story is a non-traditional fairy tale, so I looked for inspiration:

“Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who weren’t very good at it.” The Tough Princess (Waddell & Benson)

“Once there was a Dragon who was convinced he was TOTALLY TERRIFYING.” The Totally Terrifying Three (Oram & Melling)

“Once upon a Tuesday the king was in a hurry as usual.” The Kiss That Missed (Melling)

“Once upon a time, there was a deep, dark forest, where monstrous trees groaned, terrible beasties moaned and wiggly woos waited to tickle your toes.” Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure (Stephenson)

“The trouble with Dragons is… Dragons make Dragons and they make some more till there are wall-to-wall Dragons making Dragons galore.” The Trouble With Dragons (Gliori)

“Long, and long ago, when Oberon was king of the fairies, there reigned over the fair country of Phantasmorania a monarch who had six beautiful daughters.” The Ordinary Princess (Kaye)

The Ordinary Princess isn’t a picture book. It is however a perfect fairy tale. I think it’s the book I want to write. Except it was already written over 30 years ago! It definitely deserves its own post.

After looking at the inspiration, I thought about the opening lines for “my” story. Hmmm, maybe I’ll think about writing again in another ten years… 🙂

Fiction Fridays #10: The Tough Princess

FF#10
The Tough Princess: Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson (1986)

Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who weren’t very good at it.

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
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Extra Info:
I found this book in a charity shop and fell in love with it instantly after a quick flick through. It’s an alternate fairytale by the team who created Owl Babies. Princess Rosamund is not what her parents expected. She’s a girl for a start. She also absolutely refuses to follow fairytale conventions, have a spell cast on her and be rescued by a prince. Off she goes to slay dragons and rescue princes, but none of them are good enough until… Well, you’ll just have to read the book!

I’m quite happy to read this to my two young daughters, but some people might prefer to leave it for older primary aged children – there is a lot of biffing and bashing, but sensible children (and most of them are) will understand this is a story. I think it’s fantastic, and is just the kind of fairytale I want my girls to have: “I’m not going to marry a ninny!” says Rosamund. Good for her.

I also have an extra soft spot for this book because Destructo-Girl’s real name is Rosamund, and it’s always nice to read a book with your name in it – although apparently not at two and a half: “Not Rosamund!” 😆