I Was a Child Writer, and a Bad One

Every once in a while I find an old piece of writing from my past and immediately cringe at how bad it was. “I actually thought this was good at one point?” I’d find myself asking. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. For one thing, the piece of work I found earlier today was from my seven or eight year old self, so unless I was some sort of prodigy, it couldn’t have been that good.

So I gathered up some dignity, and decided to share one of my horrid pieces of writing to the rest of the world. Keep in mind that all the spelling and grammatical errors have been fixed to make the work easier to read.

The Attack of the Giant Crocodile

Once upon a time there was a cool kid named Matthew, who used to always look out his window. His mom asked him why he always looked out his window, but it was really because he was secretly a superhero who could shoot out fire with his hands!

One day he looked out the window with his super vision and saw a crocodile eating a guy’s leg! “Help!” shouted the man. “Maybe Fire Lad will save me!”

Matt jumped out of his window and flew to the scene. The alligator was still biting onto the guy’s leg! “I’ll save you!” said Matt, and he threw a fireball at the alligator.

“Curse you, Fire Lad!” exclaimed the crocodile, and it died on the spot.

“Hooray!” cheered the old man and the rest of the citizens. “Thank you, Fire Lad!”

“No problem,” expressed Matt, and he flew back to his house.

Let’s take a look at the positive sides of this story:

  1. I’m the main character (that’s always a plus).
  2. It’s not Twilight.
  3. The old man was saved (hooray for old people!)
  4. Fire lad is a pretty rad superhero name. If I ever develop the power to create fire with my hands, that’s the name I’ll choose.
  5. The main character was really cool.

Now for Comedy’s sake, I’ve decided to point out the numerous flaws as well:

  1. The main character is clearly just a stand in for me. We even have the same name!
  2. The conflict was resolved way too quickly. All Matt (awesome name, but the way) did was shoot a fire ball at the villain and it died on the spot.
  3. Is the villain a crocodile or an alligator? Seven year old me just seems to switch back and forth between the two. This can be easily explained: I used to think alligators and crocodiles were the same animal. I hope I’m not the only one who used to think this.
  4. How many superpowers does this kid have? There’s super sight, the power to fly, and the power to shoot fire out of his hands. There’s also apparently the power to not have anyone recognize you even though you’re not wearing a mask or anything. Totally unrealistic.
  5. I used to have an English teacher who encouraged us to replace ‘said,’ with big, multiple-syllable words, which is actually horrible advice, as you can see above.
  6. The sentence, “His mom asked him why he always looked out his window, but it was really because he was secretly a superhero who could shoot out fire with his hands!” doesn’t make any sense.

I wonder if I’ll react the same way in a couple years when I look back at my writing now. Honestly, I hope my reaction is the same as it is to my reaction to my seven year old self’s writing, because that just shows that I’ve improved.

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30 thoughts on “I Was a Child Writer, and a Bad One

  1. I think I’m in agreement with the above commentor, but I also love your list of “positives”. Very true. It’s also a good thing you told us Fire Lad was so cool in the first line. (Otherwise who would have known what we might come up with.)

  2. Okay, reality check… you were 7, for goodness sake! The story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I’ve read college material that doesn’t match this.

    1. I know right? Did you know that in addition to his other powers, Fire Lad also has the power to freeze stuff, stretch really far and has super strength. I found this out in the sequel.

  3. Did you say that you had a teacher who encouraged you to replace other words with said, or to replace said with other words, such as expressed, shouted, vociferated, and the like?

    I agree, it’s not Twilight. It’s not really that bad, either. It’s a complete story– conflict, resolution, depth of character… It just needs a little expansion.

      1. “Indeed,” I concurred. “I have never gone overboard with that sort of thing,” I continued continuously. “Luckily, I noticed early on that it made prose purple, and stopped. Either that, or I couldn’t think up good synonyms,” I articulated.

      2. “I’ve always insisted upon this fact to my marvelous mother, but she has yet to see the atrocity of such embellishments. Perhaps I should show her this incredibly ridiculous comment example as proof of my case,” I pondered thoughtfully.

  4. Not bad for a seven-year-old. And no, you are the not the only person who used to think that crocodiles and alligators are the same animals. I did when I was little, and I live in Louisiana, so you’d think I would at least know an alligator when I saw one.

  5. Haha, this story is great. I love looking back on my old writing from when I was in elementary school and laughing at them. And I also wonder if that’s going to be my reaction a few years from now towards reading my current writing. I prefer not to think about it…I cringe reading stuff from only a year ago! Then again, just as you pointed out, it’s great to see how much improvement you’ve made when you read back on old writing.

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