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The Evolution of a First Page + Giveaway

The First Last Day by Dorian CirroneTomorrow (June 7) my middle-grade novel The First Last Day will be officially released. So this seems like a good a time to finally write a new blog post and do a giveaway. (See the end of this post to find out how to enter.)

I’ve talked a lot about how much revision went into this novel. But I don’t think I’ve adequately expressed just how much it changed. I thought I’d give readers a behind-the-scenes look.

Here are just some of the many incarnations of my first page.*

*For more on ways to begin a story, see my earlier posts on great first lines from several of my favorite authors.

THE FIRST FIRST PAGE

Below in blue is the earliest version of my novel’s beginning. With this prologue, I broke what some believe to be a cardinal rule of fiction. I started the story when my character woke up in the morning. (Eek!) At the time, I thought it was necessary to tell the reader about the Groundhog Day trope up front. Turns out, it wasn’t.

The clock seemed to have a mind of its own, ringing promptly at seven a.m. – even though Haleigh hadn’t set it to go off at all.

She should have been used to it by now, the ringing, the repetition, the day ahead with Kevin in which he would think it was their last before summer’s end. But Haleigh knew better; they would have many more August days together.

As she reached across the bed and banged the top of the clock, she recalled her first last day, all those weeks ago. But why, Haleigh wondered, was she the only one who remembered?

Why didn’t anyone else realize that time was standing still?

THE SECOND FIRST PAGE

In this next version, I got rid of the waking up part and started at the beach. It was still in third person at this point, and the language was still a bit stilted. Looking back, I don’t think the semicolons were necessary either. Also, I later had Haleigh going into seventh grade instead of eighth.

The last week of August was always the same at Beach Side Heights.

Still, Haleigh longed to remember every detail. She gazed across the boardwalk and took a mental snapshot. As usual, sunbathers lined the shore like mannequins, soaking up the remaining rays of summer; children sculpted sandcastles, hoping they’d last long enough to show parents before the tide came in; and all across the Atlantic, the blue-green ocean came to an abrupt halt when it met the azure sky.

As she captured every scene with an imaginary click, click, click, Haleigh wished this particular summer would never end, that the beginning of eighth grade was months away rather than mere days.

Satisfied the images were fixed in her mind, she turned toward Kevin and groaned. “Can you believe it’s almost over?”

Kevin slurped the last of his lemon ice and then tossed the cup into the garbage can at the edge of the boardwalk. “Yeah, I’m gonna miss those.” He wiped his upper lip with the back of his hand.

“Those?” Haleigh cried in disbelief. “We’ve got less than two days left and all you can say is that you’ll miss some syrupy slush?”

A grin spread slowly across Kevin’s face.

 THE THIRD FIRST PAGE

I got a bit of interest from one editor on the above version. But because her revision request was vague, I never revised that version. Instead, I let it sit for a while and then went back to a prologue. I also changed the novel to first person, which helped me a lot in finding Haleigh’s true voice. I also added Kevin’s cow suit.

English, Period 3

Seventh Grade

September 6

What I Learned This Summer

By Haleigh Adams

1. When you wear a cow suit on the boardwalk, you can learn a lot about people.

2. If you had enough time and paint, you could probably create an infinite number of shades of blue.

3. Most people pronounce van Gogh like van Go, but in Holland they say it as if they’re coughing up phlegm.

4. Some of the best science fiction movies ever made were in black and white.

5. All good things come to an end.

6. Some bad things come to an end, too. Like braces. And stomachaches. And sadness.

7. Oh, and one more thing: if you ever happen to find a mysterious set of paints in your backpack, be careful. Be very careful.

THE FOURTH FIRST PAGE

The version above went through a few revisions before I finally tossed it. I can’t remember why. I still kind of like it. But for some reason, I went back to several first person beginnings with no prologue until my agent suggested I write another prologue. I wrote this one below, which goes back to revealing some of the plot and hinting at the mystery. The novel sold with this version. But it isn’t the one that appears in the book.

Dear Ms. McLaughlin,

First, I want to apologize for turning in this “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation” assignment late. But as you can see, it’s rather lengthy.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have written this much. Last year, in sixth grade, I turned in half a page—about how I went swimming, drew pictures, and ate pizza all summer.

Come to think about it, I wrote the same thing the year before. That’s because nothing unusual ever happened to me.

Until this past summer.

It all started the night before we were supposed to leave the New Jersey Shore. I was cleaning out my backpack and found a strange yellow box with the words, Magic Paints, written on the front. How did it get there? I had no idea.

Still, I used the paints.

I know what you’re thinking: they weren’t mine, and I shouldn’t have even opened the box. And I certainly shouldn’t have shut my eyes and made a wish afterwards.

But what would you do if you found magic paints? Would you use them?

What would you wish for?

I wished that I could have a do-over of my last day at the shore with Kevin Damico.

Honestly, I didn’t think it would really happen. But I got my wish—and more.

After that, well, you’re just going to have to read my story: “A True and Accurate Account of My Summer Vacation.” It starts on my first last day of summer.

                                                                                          Sincerely,

                                                                                          Haleigh Adams

P.S. See if you can solve the mystery of who slipped the paints in my backpack before I did.

THE LAST FIRST PAGE

Below is the final beginning of The First Last Day. When I still had the prologue, this was the chapter that followed. Once my editor acquired the novel, she suggested I get rid of the prologue. She said to trust the reader to let the story unfold by just telling it from the day Haleigh finds the magic paints. She was so right!

I also like this version better because the first line is a metaphor for the whole novel. Like the Eiffel Tower, Haleigh “grows” a great deal during her endless summer. If you compare the earlier versions to this one, you can see how the voice changed when I switched to first person and how Kevin’s character became more rounded during revisions.

I once read that the Eiffel Tower can grow more than six inches in summer because heat makes iron expand.

When I said that to Kevin, he stopped on the boardwalk and turned to me wide-eyed, like I’d just revealed the secret plot to the next Star Wars movie. “Do you know what that means?” he asked. “If people were made of iron, you’d be five feet three—and I’d be five feet ten.”

I straightened my back and stretched my neck. “In a really hot summer, maybe even taller.” As I let myself imagine that I wasn’t always the shortest twelve-year-old in the room, Kevin took his notebook out of his backpack and jotted something down. “What are you writing?” I asked.

“An idea for a movie: a kid who becomes a giant every summer but shrinks back to normal size when it’s over.”

“Interesting. But who would you get to play the giant kid?”

As families strolled past us with dripping frozen custard cones and funnel cakes, Kevin thought for a minute. “I have a friend who’s really tall. Maybe he—”

A ping sounded from Kevin’s cell phone, and he stopped to read the text. “It’s my mom. She and Dad just drove in from Montclair to take me home tomorrow.”

Please,” I begged. “Don’t say that word.”

“Which one? I said sixteen of them.”

Tomorrow. I’m trying to forget this is our last day at the shore.”

So that’s the story of how I got to my last first page. If you want to read more about Haleigh’s adventures, the book is available wherever books are sold.

If you want a chance to win a signed copy, a bookmark, and this nifty pen below that looks like a paintbrush, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter and tell me about it in the comments section. Even if you don’t care about winning, feel free to share :)

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You have until next Sunday, June 12, at midnight to tell me where you posted the link. I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it on Tuesday, June 14. (Continental U.S. only, please.)

Thanks for reading!


Raffle Winner and Kicking Writer’s Block

Raffle Winner

The winner of the raffle is Peggy Janousky! Peggy, email me and let me know which prize you’d like: the ten-page critique or the necklace pictured in the first blog post.

How I Got Past a Current Bout of Writer’s Block

I hit a snag in my WIP recently, a snag that took me days to get through. During that time, I washed the kitchen floor, ate leftover Skittles from Halloween (I don’t even like Skittles), made dinner at 11 a.m., and engaged in other avoidance behaviors that were even less productive (and sometimes more fattening) than the Skittles. I could not get past the quarter mark of the novel, even though, plot-wise, I knew what was supposed to happen. And then, somewhere between a cherry turnover and a rerun of Castle that I’d seen several times, it started to dawn on me: I didn’t know my secondary characters or other minor characters very well. Sure I’d given some of them names, and one of them had even appeared in the first chapter briefly. But who were they really? Even though my main character who had just walked into the room didn’t know them yet, I needed to know who they were right now. I suppose if I were an extreme “pantser” I could have muddled through the scene and rounded out the characters later, but that method wasn’t working for me. I was stuck.

This revelation took me on another avoidance journey but a more productive one. I began reading articles and leafing through some of my favorite novels to see how others had rounded out their secondary and walk-on characters. Here are some of the things I learned:

Even minor characters have motivations.

This definitely is a no-brainer, but figuring out external and internal goals of main characters is hard enough. So it’s easy to forget that everyone has a story—even the guy that’s standing over in the corner of the room. I’d done a lot of backstory work on my two main characters, but I hadn’t done any work on the rest of the players. Although some of this info might never make it into the chapter, or even the novel, I realized I needed to know what these characters wanted and what that would mean to my main characters.

Names can do a lot.

When the time isn’t right to go into backstory or motivation on a minor character, there are other ways to tell who they are in just a few words. In Liar & Spy, Rebecca Stead gives us vivid portraits of several characters in the first two chapters through naming. First, her main character, Georges, tells us that his name is pronounced George, but the “S” is silent. This causes some kids to call him Gorgeous, which he says he doesn’t mind. With just that description, we learn so much about both Georges and the secondary character, Dallas Llewellyn, who calls Georges Gorgeous. (And isn’t Dallas a great name for a bully?) We also learn a lot about another secondary character, P.E. teacher Ms. Warner. She calls Georges “G” because she’s trying to help him out by making the name “G” stick. That also tells us a great deal about her character and her relationship with Georges. In addition, we’re given insight regarding secondary character, “Bob English Who Draws,” when we’re told that their fourth grade math teacher gave Robert English the name because he was always “zoning out and doodling,” and the nickname stuck. So, character names are, of course, important, but it can be equally important to tell the reader what the characters call each other and why.

Go against type.

Even with very minor characters, it’s important not to stereotype. Robyn Schneider does a great job with this in The Beginning of Everything. The main character, an injured, former athlete who has to hobble to the front row of the assembly because he can’t climb the bleachers, describes the others there as “all teachers and this one goth girl in a wheelchair who insisted she was a witch.” By going against the stereotype of the poor girl in a wheelchair, Schneider not only gives us a vivid picture of the character, but also tells us a lot about the narrator describing her. He doesn’t want to be seen as a stereotype either.

Give your secondary character a skill, preferably one that’s unexpected.

I’m currently reading Jandy Nelson’s fabulous I’ll Give You the Sun. And I was surprised when a secondary character, who didn’t seem to be the athletic type at all, suddenly started throwing rocks like a professional athlete. It gave one of the protagonists (and me) a whole new perspective on the character. This particular character is also an astronomy enthusiast, which makes for great conversations between him and one of the main characters.

Give your secondary character a defining characteristic.

You can do this with a physical description, a habit, or a pattern of speech. But it’s harder than it seems. I’ve read articles about how many secondary characters in novels have red hair. Yes, it can set them apart from the other characters, but it’s become so common, it’s hardly a defining characteristic anymore. Same with such habits as picking cuticles and biting lips. You’d think teens everywhere would have bloody fingers and lips with all the cuticle picking and lip biting that goes on in YA novels. Strive for unique details. Study actors on TV. On The Blacklist, James Spader does this weird thing with his tongue when he’s giving someone an ultimatum. It’s a brilliant quirk that distinguishes him from everyone else. You also want to avoid using trendy and overused words like “hotilicious” to distinguish your character’s dialog. When it comes to speech patterns, look at sentence structure. Does your character only speak in simple, noun-verb-object sentences? Or does he ramble on? Does she avoid contractions? Does he talk in sentence fragments only? How can your character’s speech make her memorable?

I’m off now to put all this into practice. If you have any suggestions on how you’ve rounded out your secondary characters and other minor characters, feel free to share. I’d love to hear about them.


GENERATING IDEAS FOR NOVELS AND PICTURE BOOKS #7-10

Remember, the names of commenters and subscribers will be thrown into a virtual hat for a chance to win a free ten-page critique or bookish necklace. In honor of election time, comment early and often :)

#7 Borrow From Movies, Plays, or Other Books

This is somewhat like #6 but involves taking your inspiration from even more existing stories. I’m always amazed when an author is able to take a movie, play, or book and change it up so much that it’s entirely different from its source material.

Here are some great books that have been inspired by other stories. (Amazing how influential the Bard continues to be after all these years.) All of these authors followed Ezra Pound’s dictum to “make it new” and created highly original works.

PICTURE BOOKS

That’s Good! That’s Bad! by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by David Catrow:
Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack:

The conceit in these two books is similar to that of a book called Fortunately by Remy Charlip. In all of the books, something bad happens on one page and then something good happens as a result. And the pattern continues. Each of these books is different, and each displays its own cleverness. Cuyler’s book inspired three sequels: That’s Good! That’s Bad! In the Grand Canyon, That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington, D.C., and That’s Good! That’s Bad! On Santa’s Journey. The last two were illustrated by Michael Garland.

The Dumb Bunnies series by Dav Pilkey:

In this hilarious series, the bunnies do dumb things like watching the toilet bowl instead of the Super Bowl. This bunny family seems to have taken its cue from The Stupids series by Harry G. Allard Jr., illustrated by James Marshall, which was made into a movie, starring Tom Arnold.

MIDDLE GRADE

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander:

This is the first of a fun series about a middle-school boy who fixes other kids’ problems. The book is described as a Godfather-like tale of crime and betrayal. And if you compare the covers of Rylander’s books with Mario Puzo’s you’ll see a similarity. It’s a pretty genius concept.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead:

This is one of my favorite books of all time. While the story itself doesn’t bear too much similarity to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the intertexuality makes it seem as if the two stories are talking to each other within the novel.

YOUNG ADULT

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg:
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard:

These are only two of the many YA novels based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. And not surprisingly, readers have loved these books.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper:
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle:
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay:

YA authors have given Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, several spins. Draper has her characters meet in an Internet chat room and gives the tale a happy ending.

Serle tells a contemporary story in which a not-so-nice Juliet breaks up the relationship between Rob and Rosaline. I love the tagline on the cover: What if the greatest love story ever told was the wrong one?

Jay turns the classic story into a paranormal tale in which Romeo kills Juliet to ensure his own mortality, not realizing, she too will become immortal. Jay also wrote a sequel called Romeo Redeemed.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger:

This one’s a funny retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata, by Aristophanes, about women withholding sex from men until they stop fighting. Keplinger’s version takes place in high school, and the fighting involves football teams.

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger:

Keplinger does it great again with a new take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Ten by Gretchen McNeill:

McNeill gives Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None a teen twist in this suspenseful novel.

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike:
Pike takes The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, a work far less known than Shakespeare’s and Austen’s and gives it her own spin.

#8 Fictionalize Real-Life Stories and Events

Here’s where spending your time reading random articles on the Internet can actually work for you, instead of against you. Like Law & Order SVU, these stories were ripped from the headlines.

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle:
Ocean Commotion: Caught in the Currents by Janeen Mason:

Both of these books were inspired by a 1992 event in which a cargo ship dropped a container of toys, including lots of rubber ducks, into the Pacific. I’d seen this article in the newspaper and cut it out but never did anything with the idea. But I’m glad Carle and Mason did.

Pluto Visits Earth by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Jared Lee:

This one came out shortly after Jupiter was declared not to be a planet anymore. In the book, Pluto is angry that he’s been demoted and comes to earth to reclaim planetary status. Recently some scientists have said Jupiter should be a planet after all. I smell a sequel ☺.

MIDDLE GRADE

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate:

This award-winning book was based on a real-life story about a gorilla that has grown up in a cage at a mall. Applegate’s picture book based on the same story was just released.

YOUNG ADULT

Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson:
Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler:

(Spoiler Ahead!) Both of these novels bear resemblance to a news article in which a teen with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend. In Henderson’s novel (the first of her Scarlett Wakefield series) a girl leaves school after a boy collapses dead after their kiss. She later gets a note telling her it may not have been an accident. In Gurtler’s novel, the main character becomes a school pariah when she accidentally kills a boy after kissing him.

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway:
Indigo Blues by Danielle Joseph:

Both books take their cue from a real-life incident in the news about the Plain White Tees and their song, “Hey There, Delilah.” The singer/songwriter crooned about a girl he’d met somewhere, and although she wasn’t an ex-girlfriend as in the two fabulous novels mentioned, the attention was equally unwanted by the girl.

After by Amy Efaw:

This acclaimed novel was no doubt inspired by several unfortunate news stories in which teens, who didn’t know they were pregnant, suddenly went into labor and abandoned their babies in the trash.

#9 Tap Into the Zeitgeist

Ask yourself: what are people talking about? What’s in the forefront of the American imagination and will be for a while? Social issues like child abduction and child slavery? Diseases such eating disorders, drug addiction, cutting, bipolar disorder? And how about technology: what part does that play? All these books seem to have been sparked by the intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of our era.

PICTURE BOOKS

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein:

This Caldecott-winning picture book is about Frenchman Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Published two years after 9/11, the story had great significance for our era.

Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Santat:

This very funny picture book and its sequel, Bawk and Roll, no doubt took inspiration from the popularity of contemporary reality shows like “American Idol.”

MIDDLE GRADE

As If Being 12¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running For President by Donna Gephart:

Published at the beginning of 2008, when it was conceivable that we could have a female president, Gephart’s award-winning novel tapped into that possibility. This book is still highly relevant in our contemporary political climate.

Death By Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart:

In her newest novel, Gephart taps into cultural issues of our era once again. This one addresses issues of the current economy with humor and heart.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio:

Bullying has been on everyone’s mind for quite a while. While not necessarily written as an anti-bullying book, this best-selling novel is all about promoting kindness to each other.

YOUNG ADULT

Sold by Patricia McCormick:

This National Book Award finalist is about a poor thirteen-year-old girl in Nepal being sold into slavery and prostitution, an unfortunate reality of our times.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins:

Hopkins writes wildly popular novels in verse. This one’s about meth addiction. Subsequent novels deal with such issues as prostitution, depression, abuse, etc.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson:

Anderson, a best-selling and award-winning author, often writes about contemporary issues of our era. This one is about eating disorders.

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick:

This lyrical novel, written in verse, is about an addiction to cutting.

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler:

The constant technological advances of our era continue to inspire writers. Mlynowski’s book is about a girl who drops her cell in a fountain and starts talking to her future self. Asher and Mackler write about a girl and boy who use an AOL CD and discover themselves on Facebook fifteen years into the future.

#10 X meets Y: Combine Two Popular and/or Unlikely Books, Movies, Ideas, Places, Etc.

When teaching, I’ve had students make two separate lists of various TV shows, movies, plays, places, etc. I then have them combine one from Column A and one from Column B. You should see the ideas they come up with.

PICTURE BOOKS

Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort:

Two things extremely popular with the picture book set are dinosaurs and underpants. Wish I’d thought of this!

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin:

Farm animals meet collective bargaining in this enduring picture book. This one’s a first in a series about these belligerent bovines.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown:

I think you could describe this as Peter Rabbit meets Night of the Living Dead. Love it!

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri:

Take dragons, a popular picture book subject, combine them with tacos and salsa, and you’ve got one hot picture book.

Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders, illustrated by John Manders:

Combining cowboys with Christmas cacti makes for a great holiday book.

MIDDLE GRADE

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan:

This series is often described as Classical Mythology meets Harry Potter.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood:

One reviewer described this award-winning novel as The Help meets To Kill a Mockingbird.

YOUNG ADULT

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter:

This novel and the rest of the beloved Gallagher Girls series could be described as Girls Boarding School novel meets CIA.

Beauty Queen by Libba Bray:

This funny send-up combines the Miss America Pageant with the TV show Lost.

Well, that’s it for the ten ways to generate ideas series. I hope they sparked a story concept for you!


Welcome to my blog!

The World is Waiting JewelryI’m well aware that the universe does not need another blog that discusses the craft of writing. There are so many excellent ones out there already. I also know that I’m way behind on the trend. That’s nothing new for me. (I still have a VCR.) However, along with writing itself, learning and talking about writing is pretty much the thing that keeps me from going crazy. So, for the sake of my sanity and for those around me, I’m adding my voice (and yours in the comments section) to the chorus.

In the next several weeks, I’ll be talking about how to generate ideas, how to begin your story, how to pump up your character’s emotional journey, and many other topics on the craft of writing. I hope you’ll join me.

Those who join the conversation in the comments section and those who subscribe to the blog will be entered in a raffle. Every couple of weeks, I’ll choose a winner at random. I have three of these necklaces (above), a mug that says I’m a Writer … Everything You Say and Do May End Up in My Novel, some autographed MG and YA novels, and other prizes to choose from, if you win. So here goes the first post …

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a question writers always get. A while back when I first started writing, I had no problem answering that question. Ideas were everywhere. But the more I learned about how difficult it was to execute those ideas in a creative and unique way, the more I panicked. Just as soon as I got a new idea, I tossed it away, worrying that it had already been done.

I’d heard the aphorism: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And I knew Ezra Pound’s advice was: “Make it New.” But I was stuck.

After awhile, I began studying strategies to generate ideas and realized that even if an idea is similar to something that’s been done, old Ezra was right: you can make it new.

Of course, getting the idea is just the beginning. The hard work happens after you nail down the premise. But if you’re like I was, and you’re having trouble coming up with a concept, the next several blog posts will demonstrate some strategies to help you brainstorm. Here’s the first one:

#1 Switch Up the Genre

One of my favorite genre switches was Mel Brooks’s take on the iconic science fiction novel, Frankenstein. Once he turned it into the hilarious film,Young Frankenstein, it became a classic all on its own. Another great example of a successful genre switch involves the humorous movie called Multiplicity, which was about cloning. Retooled as a thriller, it has become the critically acclaimed BBC America TV show Orphan Black.

Below are some great books for children and teens that demonstrate how you, too, can switch up a genre. Take a look at these books, study them, and find out how these authors “make it new.”

Paranormal to Humor

The Twilight books inspired many more vampire novels, but these three authors switched up the genre and made readers laugh.

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
Sucks to Be Me (and two more in the series) by Kimberly Pauley
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Classic Animal Tale to Ghost Story

Neil Gaiman has said that the inspiration for his award-winning The Graveyard Book came from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Contemporary Series to Historical Series

The very popular Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, which centered on Manhattan’s teen social scene time traveled to the 1800’s and became The Luxe books, by Anna Godbersen, another very successful series.

Contemporary Friendship Series to Murder Mystery Friendship Series

Take the trials and tribulations of four best friends (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares), give them some threatening texts and a few murders to solve, and you have Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard.

Nursery Tale to Picture Book Noir

Humpty Dumpty and other nursery tales get a fresh twist when a hardboiled detective begins investigating the truth in Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries by David Levinthal, illustrated by John Nickle.

Adventure/Buddy Movie to Humorous Teen Novel

Agent Jill Corcoran in her first fabulous Plotwrimo video talks about how Robin Mellom’s Ditched was pitched as The Hangover for teens. Brilliant idea!

If you’ve been inspired by another work and changed the genre to write your own picture book or novel or can think of other examples, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.