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Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

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Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby MJE » 14 Jun 2010, 21:59

Hallo.

     To those who know me, sorry I've been so absent. I do seem to be having difficulty actually thinking of anything to say. I think I'm going through a kind of depression (not a black despairing one, just a kind of grey nothingness). I come onto this forum and look up some threads, and try to think if I can add anything, and there's just a kind of nothingness: anything I can think of to say has either already been said by someone else, or else is trite and not worth saying.
     But I would like to ask this:

     I was just wondering how many people here have written (or still write) Blyton-style adventures or mysteries. I'm not talking about writing stories using her characters and adding to her series, nor talking about satirical or humorous pastiches of her style. I'm just talking about straightforward stories or novels, roughly in her style, but using characters of one's own invention.
     When I was a child, and going into my teens and even early 20s, I wrote quite a few stories of this sort, and created several sets of characters, each of whom had a series around them. Most of these were in fact short stories, or novellas at most, and in fact this forced me to try to compress too much content into too few pages, and led to a very clipped, colourless style of writing. I did contemplate rewriting them, expanding them considerably, but never got round to it. But one of my series was based on a novel-sized format, and I actually wrote one complete novel, about nine-tenths of a second, and varying portions of succeeding novels, all featuring the same family (complete with dog). This would have been around 1968 to 1969.
     Around the mid 1970s, I somehow turned to trying to write fiction of a more serious, deep character, and these works took a more mystical turn, although I think some of Blyton's methods of storytelling were so deeply ingrained in me that signs of this approach probably continued. But the stories were more philosophical, and lacked the normal adventure or mystery trappings Blyton usually used. One or two of these stories were going to be science-fiction.
     In time, this faded too, and around the late 1980s I stopped writing fiction altogether. I think this was partly tied up with an increasingly dark outlook on life where I adopted a rather nihilistic outlook, and when I found life itself pointless I increasingly saw no future in trying to write stories which were trying in various ways to work out what life was about.
     I have not written fiction at all for two decades now (except for a couple of chapters in an Adventure series Round Robin in the Yahoo Blyton group); but I do still think nostalgically about Enid Blyton's work, which was so formative in influencing my way of writing. And I occasionally have the desire to write Blytonian fiction. For this, I would create new characters, and not try to resurrect the rather pale characters I created in my youth. I might also be interested in writing something set in the future, with a science-fictiony flavour, but based on the idea of children solving mysteries and having adventures. Another idea would involve another set of characters in the present (or maybe past? - questionable if you are not deliberately pastiching Blyton), and would be just straight adventure stories.

     And yet I often wonder if it is feasible to writing fiction of this sort now. Some may think that Blyton so dominated this area that it is hers alone, and no-one else can write like that without encroaching on her territory. I'm not talking about closely imitating Blyton's style, but just writing the general type of story she often wrote.
     Also, things are so different now in the world generally. Political correctness may make it very difficult to write certain things. I may not want to create black villains called Jo-Jo; but I might want to depict the children wandering around unsupervised without their parents getting concerned about it (like I did myself in the 1960s aged 8 or 10); and if the kids went out bike-riding, I would not want to have to carefully point out how they put their bike helmets on every time, lest I be accused of setting a bad example for readers; and I would not want to require that the dog be on a lead at all times, as the law might require today in some localities. (If Timmy had had to be on a lead at all times in public, that would very definitely have hobbled his often important role in the story.)
     Also, I'm not sure I'd want computers or mobile phones to intrude too much, as they seem rather incompatible with a Blytonian adventure - yet if the story is set today, such things surely cannot be ignored. Also, would you let modern political, social, and environmental concerns enter into the general background these stories are set in? Drugs, street violence, family breakdown, domestic abuse - not stuff at all that I would want to fill the general background of the stories. (Occasionally the kids might be on the trail of drug smugglers, as they were once or twice in Blyton's own work - but that's quite a different matter.)
     There are so many questions that you'd have to know how to deal with - I've just mentioned a few that randomly come to mind. And at times I conclude that is is hardly feasible to write stories of this sort now - which may be why I can't think of anyone who *is* writing stories of this sort now.

     So I see many potential pitfalls in trying to write stories of this sort now. I guess, realistically, I would be doing it for my own entertainment, not for publication; but if they turned out to be good enough, I certainly wouldn't want to dismiss the possibility of publication.
     I suppose my interest in doing it is partly related to a kind of childhood nostalgia, a desire to retreat from present-day life back into a kind of cosy sense of nostalgia.

     Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else was considering, or had done, a similar thing, and what they thought about it.
     I would appreciate any comments on this.

     Sorry if it's only tangentially related to Blyton - I hope that's okay. I would be interested to see what anyone else thinks about this.
     Thanks.

Regards, Michael.
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Moonraker » 15 Jun 2010, 09:27

MJE wrote:I do seem to be having difficulty actually thinking of anything to say. I think I'm going through a kind of depression (not a black despairing one, just a kind of grey nothingness). I come onto this forum and look up some threads, and try to think if I can add anything, and there's just a kind of nothingness: anything I can think of to say has either already been said by someone else, or else is trite and not worth saying.


Queer that you should say that, Michael; I have just started to reply to your post in the Soper/Maxwell thread - started, that is, by getting the box up, but couldn't think of anything to say! As I agreed 100% with all you said there, I couldn't think of anything to add, and didn't want to write, "I totally agree with all you said, Michael".

I too tried writing in a Blyton style when I was younger, but to be honest, I couldn't think of anything that she hadn't already written. I also didn't have the stamina to write a full-length novel.

However, I am certain that there is plenty of room for a series of books set in the 40s/50s about another group of kids. The difficulty is in not unintentionally putting any Blyton settings/characters into them that would make them appear too heavily influenced by her stories.

Quite frankly, the era that we live in now wouldn't interest me. As you say, H&S, PC and all the rest of the Nanny State rules would stem the flow of any writing that I would want to produce.
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Dick Kirrin » 15 Jun 2010, 09:45

Well, Michael, I'm not too sure that I can offer you any help or advice, as I made up stories in my mind and hardly ever put them down in writing. Apart from some small contributions to stories here in the forums, that is.

But some of the more technical problems that you mentioned (broken up families, bike helmets and mobile phones) troubled me as well.
My way of getting round them was doing what Enid did in her time, as she time and again made references to road safety, too. (cf. Five get into trouble chapter 1 and 2 for example) But she didn't overdo it. One or two statements so pompous that it was clear to any reader that the Five would never even think of breaking the traffic laws and that was it.
About mobiles, I'm not sure that they in fact couldn't come in handy in a story about children being allowed to go off on bicycles all on their own, as parents might insist on the kids taking them along as a means to get help just in case. Julian is often made to write a postcard every day, so that Aunt Fanny knows the Five are safe and well, nowadays it would just be a text message.
Modern baddies would then take the mobiles away when they captured children, or batteries could be flat or the phones may not work somewhere in the Scottish Highlands or down in a tunnel under the sea. BTW, it needn't be the Scottish Highlands there are parts of valleys quite near to populated areas where you don't have coverage.
And one reason for kids being shipped of to their aunt's and uncle's could be that their parents need a break to find out if their marriage is to be continued.

Are adventure stories involving children and dogs are soley Blyton territory? Well, that's hard to say. Whenever I read a story of a similar pattern, I have Enid and her heroes on my mind. But I still can admire someone else's works, so if the story is more than a mere copy or spoof of any kind, I am likely to like it.
If I always felt Enid breathing down on my neck while writing, then I'd better leave it.
If I correctly understand what you are saying, you'd like to restart writing as a way of getting you out of that greyish cloud hanging all around you. In that case, go ahead by all means! :) What have you got to lose?

And from what you wrote so far, I'd strongly disagree with your statement that you have nothing to say. You have said a lot of very interestings things and raised some points very well worth thinking about. I found your contribution to Pete's "Why did you choose your username?" thread very thoughtful as I felt the same when I chose my username.
In the end, I decided on Dick Kirrin for the reasons I gave in the thread, and I'm glad that I did it. So far, it doesn't feel peculiar, and if it does in a given thread ("Ship" Blyton characters for example) I just make a joke about myself before anyone else does. If other forumites decide to join in and crack some more jokes on poor old Dick, let them, I can always do with a laugh. :D If my joke disarmed them, well that's all right, too I suppose.

Cheers

Dick Kirrin
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 15 Jun 2010, 10:09

Moonraker wrote:I too tried writing in a Blyton style when I was younger, but to be honest, I couldn't think of anything that she hadn't already written. I also didn't have the stamina to write a full-length novel.


As a girl I started writing several stories with titles like First Year at Castle Towers and An Adventurous Holiday. But like Nigel I found that I'd bitten off more than I could chew in aiming to write a full-length novel, and I rarely got any further than about Chapter 5. Although I grew up with schoolfriends called Michelle, Sharon, Wayne and Matthew, my stories invariably featured characters named Doreen, Betty, Tom and Len!

Moonraker wrote:However, I am certain that there is plenty of room for a series of books set in the 40s/50s about another group of kids. The difficulty is in not unintentionally putting any Blyton settings/characters into them that would make them appear too heavily influenced by her stories.


Yes, it would be interesting for example to read stories set in the 1940s-50s which, while still being exciting and full of action, focus more on character development. In recent years authors like Michael Morpurgo and the late Robert Westall have written children's books set in the 1940s, though they don't follow the pattern of traditional adventure stories and they often focus mainly on one or two individuals. I don't think either of those authors has written a long series revolving around a particular group of characters.
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 15 Jun 2010, 11:08

I've always loved reading and writing, and too used to write my own short stories as a child. Even as an adult I continue to write, for my own pleasure. One of my novels, I did send to a publisher, (backin the 80's) and it got a second reading, but was still rejected. So like the rest, it gathers dust in the loft somewhere. It was one I was particularly proud of too, as it was a sort of ghost story, where three children, brothers and sister, were on holiday, and exploring the area came across a burnt out mansion house. Here they meet a boy, but the boy is a ghost who died in the fire, but was actually blamed for the fire,even though he was innocent, which is why he haunts. So he takes the children back to his time to the night of the fire, and from here they can prove his innocence and set all the records straight for the boys family in the present. There's a bit more to it, but that's the general synopsis.

8)
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Daisy » 15 Jun 2010, 11:16

Your story sounds great Julie! I'd love to read it. I too used to try writing my own stories - heavily influenced by the St Clare's and Malory Towers books. I also had an obsession with twins and at least one set would feature in what ever I wrote. I even invented one family consisting only of sets of twins and triplets (and that was long before I had read any of the Chalet books!) Needless to say the whole thing was abandoned after a few chapters. It's great fun though.
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Eddie Muir » 15 Jun 2010, 11:21

It's interesting to learn that there are so many aspiring writers on the forums. I, too, wrote a number of short stories for children back in the late 70s and early 80s, but they were always rejected when I submitted them to publishers. :cry: However, they were always well-received when they were printed in the school magazines (during my teaching years). :D

Your ghost novel sounds very interesting, Julie. :D What a pity you weren't able to get it published.
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Dick Kirrin » 15 Jun 2010, 11:30

@ Julie: Your ghost story sounds very spirited to me. :) I'd love to read it, too.

Cheers

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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Moonraker » 15 Jun 2010, 14:13

Julie2owlsdene wrote:It was one I was particularly proud of too, as it was a sort of ghost story, where three children, brothers and sister, were on holiday, and exploring the area came across a burnt out mansion house. Here they meet a boy, but the boy is a ghost who died in the fire, but was actually blamed for the fire,even though he was innocent, which is why he haunts. So he takes the children back to his time to the night of the fire, and from here they can prove his innocence and set all the records straight for the boys family in the present.


No point reading that now! :D
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 15 Jun 2010, 14:57

Moonraker wrote:
No point reading that now! :D



Sorry, don't understand your posting, Nigel. :?

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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Moonraker » 15 Jun 2010, 15:35

Julie2owlsdene wrote:
Moonraker wrote:
No point reading that now! :D


Sorry, don't understand your posting, Nigel. :?


As you have told us a summary of the complete plot, there is little point in reading it, as I know what happens and how it turns out!

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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 15 Jun 2010, 15:41

Moonraker wrote:
As you have told us a summary of the complete plot, there is little point in reading it, as I know what happens and how it turns out!



Oh I see, but you don't! As I've only told you half the story. There's a ending you just wouldn't imagine! :lol:

8)
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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby pete9012S » 15 Jun 2010, 16:01

Julie2owlsdene wrote: it was a sort of ghost story, where three children, brothers and sister, were on holiday, and exploring the area came across a burnt out mansion house. Here they meet a boy, but the boy is a ghost who died in the fire, but was actually blamed for the fire,even though he was innocent, which is why he haunts. So he takes the children back to his time to the night of the fire, and from here they can prove his innocence and set all the records straight for the boys family in the present. There's a bit more to it, but that's the general synopsis.

8)


That plot reminds me a little of the film 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'.....Based on the novel 'The Ghosts' by Antonia Barber


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amazing_Mr_Blunden


Regards

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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 15 Jun 2010, 16:34

I've never seen that film or heard anything about it, Pete. Reading it, I'm happy to say that my story isn't like it at all. It's all from my own imagination from a derelict large house which was in the hamlet where I once lived.

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Re: Writing Blytonian stories of one's own.

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 15 Jun 2010, 16:51

Your story sounds intriguing, Julie. Perhaps you ought to dust it off and make it available online! When I was eleven I wrote a play which my sister, our friends and I performed for our families. I've forgotten the title now but it involved the ghost of a girl who came back to a place where there had been a tragedy in the past. The tragedy had been her fault, but when she came back she was able to make amends in some way. I can't recall the details of the plot but there was a lot of screaming and we had great fun making up my friend's face to look pale and ghostly.
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