I Smell A Unicorn
So, you write the next Great American Children’s Novel. You’re so proud of it, you can’t wait to show it to everyone – your family, friends, agent, check-out guy at the grocery. Just one more quick read, you think, and it will be ready to start winning Newbery prizes and making you J. K. Rolling-in-Dough. Just one more quick read… wait! What’s that? Why is there a funny smell coming from Chapter Three? What the heck? There it is – the tell-tale stain of a fairy tale creature who’s been clumsily foreshadowed all over your manuscript. That’s going to take hours to clean up! Who let that thing in here? The author, you say? It’s a magical world, sure, but a strictly defined one, where the magic is limited so the rest of the world seems normal, which makes it all plausible, and creepy, and… oh, no. I think I saw a unicorn behind the next page. A freakin’ unicorn.
Crap. Get the delete key out, boys. We’re going to be revising for a while longer.
Once more, Writer Friends, into the breach. Hold my trembling, unicorn-free hand? I have to go grind some very small, child-sized bones to make my bread.
NB: Thank you to Sam, who when I was angsting about how I was writing “too dark” for children, reminded me of the Hunger Games.