Blood and Guts By Ann Haywood Leal

Blood and guts . . . it's the deep down secondary part of our story about which we agonize.  Putting your work on paper, especially if you know someone is going to eventually read it, takes guts.  And in order to get your story out there—the real story that you want to tell—takes what sometimes feels like a little bleeding on your part. 

In order to start something, or even more so, to keep something going, you need to be willing to make mistakes. 

It seems complicated, but the hard part is already taken care of.  You are already have the bare bones of your story.  You already have it in you.  Now all you have to do is show up at the computer or your notepad or your journal every day, and write.  Take what has been percolating inside your head, little snippets of ideas or conversations, or problems, and write them down.  You will start to see that secondary part of the story emerge . . . the emotion. 

When you write about the middle-grade experience, you are most likely a person who actually remembers being ten or eleven or twelve.  And not always fondly!  You may not remember exact details—you may not be able to actually tell someone, word for word, about a conversation you had with your best friend in fifth grade, but I’d be willing to bet you could still drum up your old emotions.  And those old emotions?  They are the blood and guts of your story.  

That time you threw up in front of the whole sixth grade in the lunch room?  Channel that emotion into your character.  The time you spilled something down the front of you and you had to go back to class looking as if you wet your pants . . . toss that feeling into your book, too.

It's all there.  Dig into your own blood and guts to give your story life and authenticity.  Like the infamous (Hemingway?) writing quote (paraphrased):  It's easy.  Just sit down and open up a vein. 


  1. You're right...that was an AWFUL age for me. I'm still waiting for a good age...

  2. So true. Sometimes, the best thing to do is mine your life...


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