I’ve been struggling with my next book, The Mysterious Midnight Pickle. My noble goal was to create a story about navigating relationships with difficult people (or pickles). I have yet to determine a successful resolution to the story. Like my main character, Sylvia, I’m not sure how to handle the Pickle Prince Percival, and their relationship is going poorly.
I’m currently in the process of rewriting, but I thought that I’d share a selection of my rough draft. I’m unsure if I can sufficiently balance and resolve the somewhat adult theme, or make it resonate with children. I don’t know if kids would get or appreciate this kind of conflict.
The pickle of the title has been an inconsiderate house guest, and this is the point where Sylvia explodes.
“Early the next morning, Sylvia made her breakfast, ignoring the constant complaints coming from Percival, which were only interrupted by insistent demands. When she had everything ready for school that day, she picked up Percival, who was telling her that she needed to turn the air down.
His voice broke off as she lifted him off his bed.
“Listen up, Pickle. I’m taking you to my school, and you are going to be our class pet. I’m tired of your constant complaining. I don’t have servants to do things for me, and it is NOT okay that you are ordering me around. I am not looking for a Prince, and if I was, you would not be the Prince I was looking for!”
Percival’s stunned silence was unbroken as she wrapped him in a towel and dropped him into her purse.”
In my initial story outline, Sylvia’s patience breaks, and she simply eats the pickle, seemingly solving her problem. I feel like that kind of ending is low hanging fruit. I’d like to do more than elicit a cheap laugh (although perhaps that’s more on a child’s wavelength).
I HATED the ending of the Pixar movie “Up” because they created a sympathetic villain and then took the easy road by having him fall to his assumed death. Sure, the conflict is resolved, but when, in real life, do people get such an easy ending?? People have ongoing conflict that is seldom (if ever) resolved by a “convenient” transition to the afterlife. In fact, one of our most pressing issues today is how to get along with real live people who posses radically different viewpoints that happen to conflict with our own.
In my original idea, the Pickle comes back on the last page, setting up a sequel where Sylvia has to deal with the consequences of taking the easy road. As I’m writing this, that actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Fitting a complicated character arc into a single children’s book might not be the best choice. With the consumption ending + sequel approach, I get to keep my cheap laugh, with the opportunity to resolve the relationship in a more deeply satisfying manner in a second book.
I may have to write two versions and field test them before I start the illustration process. I just got shivers of excitement. I love this job. I hope I get to keep it.
Feel free to offer opinions or suggestions in the comments!