Kid Ninja

I have three kids: Yoda, the Moviemaker Kid, and the Peanut. Moviemaker Kid (MK) can read, but has a lot of trouble writing at the moment.  He does not let that stop him.

Yesterday, he completed his newest masterpiece, a chapter book called KID NINJA.  Because he cannot write down his work, I am his humble scribe.  Being the Kid Ninja’s assistant has reminded me of many basic truths about writing and creativity; here’s what he taught me as we worked on this awesomely awesome tale of a kid who likes to destroy things:

1.  Get a concept and get excited.  Once MK got the concept in mind — bullied kid becomes a secret ninja and gets his revenge – he knew what he was writing about and he couldn’t wait to follow the main character through the story.

2.  Keep going.  MK wanted to work on KID NINJA every chance he could get.  Little snippets of time, long blocks of time…until the project was complete, he wanted to work on it every chance we got.

3.  Go with what works.  In chapter three, the Kid Ninja goes to a pet store and gets a group of extraordinary pets – a dog that took karate, a cat that was expert in swordplay, a frog scientist, and a hissing cockroach that is also a ninja.  These creatures became central to the story, and I don’t think MK knew they existed until Zach, the hero, went to the pet store.

4.  Do not censor yourself.  The coolest thing I observed in MK’s process was his complete lack of hesitation.  His internal editor doesn’t exist yet, so he just wrote the thing, didn’t stop himself every two minutes to ask, “Where can I place this?  How could I write something so awful/brilliant/clichéd/original/embarrassing? A hissing cockroach?! WTF”  He just. had. FUN.

5.  The perfect is the enemy of the good.  Was KID NINJA perfect when it was done?  Well, no (don’t tell MK I said that, please!).  But did he agonize over the gaps in the plot, the ill-defined villains, or the lack of a love interest?  Hell, no.  He called it good (and it is really, really good) and is now planning a three book series and a spin off series called THE BLACK BLOB.

Sometimes I think becoming a writer means forgetting a lot of what we learn on the rocky road to adulthood.  Thank you, MK, for reminding me why I love this crazy thing called writing so much.

With MK’s permission, I will leave you with a stirring excerpt from the amazing, awesome KID NINJA:

There was a boy that always got bullied but nobody knew he was going to become a ninja.  But, if they ever saw anything on TV with a ninja they would not think it was him.

His name is Zach.  He’s in fourth grade and is ten years old.  And he likes to destroy stuff…..

One day on Friday they went to the pet store.  They got a dog, a cat, a frog, and a hissing cockroach.  But, nobody knew that the cat was a fencer, the dog took karate, the frog was a scientist, and the cockroach was another ninja….


Have a great week, and go forth and conquer, word ninjas!


8 Responses to “Kid Ninja”

  1. 1 Terri-Lynne
    March 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

    This post actually made me a little teary. The purity. The innocence. The genius. We all had it once. We all have it still. Sometimes it’s buried too deeply. Sometimes, if we’re reeeeeally lucky, the light sparks to life. All we need is a child like MK to flip the switch.

    Thanks for letting us ALL borrow your switch.

  2. March 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

    What an inspirational list. It’s amazing how kids can make you see things in a new light (or, as you said, in one we forgot as we grew up.) Thanks for sharing!

  3. March 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I loved this…my son is a challenged reader, but a fabulous artist. He creates books with his art.

  4. 4 michelelang
    March 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Terri-Lynne: Hah, your comment made *me* a little teary! Thinking about why MK may have chosen a bullied kid as his hero, and about how MK has chosen to take his revenge. I’m so glad MK has helped you flipped the switch, too. He and his brothers are my writing senseis 🙂

    Kalayna: I hesitated to write this up at first blush b/c MK’s lessons were so basic and fundamental. But I realized that’s what made them powerful, too. Thank you for your comment!

    Marci: I am so glad you loved this. I think it’s our facing and surmounting challenges that make us great — and your son sounds like a magnificent artist!

  5. March 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Great post. I think a lot of beginning writers have trouble with lesson #2 via lesson #4, and then take a left into “writer’s block” at #5. And don’t realize it.

    So I think this was definitely worth posting.

  6. March 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Great post! I have a kid writer as well. 🙂 Love the excerpt!! Now I want to know what happens, lol.

  7. 7 michelelang
    March 9, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Atsiko: So glad you found it useful!

    Kelly: Last night I talked w/MK about e-book distribution, and he likes it 🙂 So I will let you all know when his work will be available to read online!

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