Friday, January 9, 2009

A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End

Avi’s middle grade book, A Beginning, A Muddle and an End juxtaposes a perspective on the writing profession through wit and humor of a snail named Avon and an ant named Edward. I have posted a sampling of dialogue from chapter four where Avon ponders about continuing as a writer. At this point Avon has managed to write one word-- “Something”—

This is a funny and philosophical story full of wisdom and humor. My eight year old granddaughter even “got it” in most places.

Here is an exchange between Avon and Edward as Avon ponders writing as a profession.

“Edward,” he finally said, “do you remember when you told me about the need for writers to be punctual?”
“That was a short time ago.”
“All the same, I’ve been thinking about it. Since writing is so hard, perhaps instead of becoming a writer, I should become an author.”
“Avon, you can’t become an author until you first become a writer.”
“Why is that?”
"A writer is someone who tries to get the words right. That’s why they are called writers. But an author is someone who has written the words wrong. Any critic will tell you that.”
“Is it hard to write right?”
“If a writer isn’t right, he’s bound to be left behind.”
“I’d still like to try.”
“What will you write?”
“That’s my biggest worry. I’m afraid I’ve not had an exciting life.”
“Then write about what you haven’t done.”
“Is that allowed?” asked Avon.
“You should know that the number one rule about writing is: Write what you know. So if you know what you haven’t done, write about that.”
“What if you don’t know what you’ve not done?”
“Then you go on to rule number two.”
“Which is?”
“Write about what you don’t know.”
“Is there a third rule?”
"Yes, stories do usually have three rules. Rule number three is: Write about what you don’t know as if you did know about it.”
“Any fourth rule?”
“Absolutely: Make sure that when you’re writing about what you don’t know as if you did know, conceal the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“Is there a fifth rule?”
“A crucial one. It’s: Always leave your readers guessing."

I am enjoying this book and learning from it as well. When Avon is asked by Edward, what kind of writer he intends to be, Avon said

“A writer who attracts readers.”
“Then for heaven’s sake, don’t write writing. Write reading.”

Great advice, don’t you think?
Write it down,


  1. Sounds like a cute story, and oh so true. Nice post,thanks for sharing.


  2. Yes Terri, I didn't miss the irony in it either. Very witty. A great example for writers who are interested in writing humor. Children like humor too.


  3. Carma,

    Excellent review and it sounds like a great story - you are right - kids love humor. We loved reading Louis Sacher - Wayside School - can't wait to read it again with Connor.


  4. What a fun book. It sounds great. I'll have to check it out!