He was up late reading TREASURE ISLAND Island for the hundredth time when the story idea came to him. Like all of his ideas, it was only the beginning of a story. But a beginning was better than nothing at all, so he climbed out of bed—quietly, because the rest of his family was asleep and he didn’t want to wake them.
TREASURE ISLAND was a book he had read so often that he hardly needed to look at the well-worn copy that Pa and Ma had given him for Christmas two years before. He needed only to open it and dream of adventure. That was how the story beginning had come to him, like a dream—the words falling into place like notes of music from Ma’s fiddle. He held them in his mind carefully, not wanting to forget them before he had time to write them down.
He sat at his old worn desk—there were ink stains all over it—and drew out a secret book from the bottom of a drawer filled with papers. It wasn’t the five-cent composition book in which he kept his journal. That was where he wrote down his thoughts and observations on everything that mattered and didn’t matter. The secret book was one he had found in the attic among Ma’s things—secret things maybe, for the trunk had been locked, and perhaps he oughtn’t to have used the key he’d found in Ma’s room.
As he had done many times since finding the book, he looked at the words on its title page: THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS. There was a verse beneath the title. It made him shiver a bit because it was so wonderful. Almost like a story beginning itself:
Beware, you writers who write within;
Be mindful of stories that you begin;
For every story that has a beginning
May have a middle and an end.
Know this, too, before you write:
Though day must always lead to night,
Not all beginnings make good tales;
Some succeed, while others fail.
Let this book its judgment lend
On whether and how your beginning ends.
THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS by Kristin Kladstrup. Copyright © 2006 by Kristin Kladstrup. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.