Showing posts with label folktale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label folktale. Show all posts

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

It’s always interesting how writers find ideas when writing a fiction story.

Some may simply come up with an idea, others may see something that triggers a story, and sometimes a story is handed to a writer.

I had never thought of rewriting a folktale until being given a rough outline of an ancient Chinese tale, Taoist Master of the Lao Mountain. This was the inception of middle-grade, fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls.

It was June of 2008, and I belonged to a writing critique group along with a nonfiction writer who had a basic outline of an ancient Chinese tale that he wanted to pass along to a fiction writer. Since writing a fiction story wasn't his cup of tea, he gave me the outline.

After reading the outline, I loved the lessons it could bring to children.

Folktales come from all over the world and usually provide morale messages geared toward doing right, rather than wrong. These tales are a wonderful way to teach children through an engaging and entertaining story.

Since the tale, as with many ancient tales, involved an adult as the protagonist the first step needed was to rewrite it for today’s children’s market. This meant it needed a child protagonist.

As I wanted to stay as close to the original tale as I could, I used some of its flavor, descriptions, and names. That’s how the main character’s name, Wang, was chosen.

Along with keeping the story's flavor, I wanted it to be engaging for today’s child, so I came up with new characters, the dragon, enhanced storyline and plot, and so on.

Having an outline to guide me was a great help; it offered a general direction, like an arrow pointing North. So, as I began to rewrite the tale it was able to take on a life of its own, while still heading North. And, to ensure the story kept its flavor, I made sure to include bits of the original story to keep it as close to the tale’s outline as possible.

Working on the story, I knew it needed to take place in ancient China, so decided to use the 16th century as the backdrop for the story.

To add an element of realism to the story, I researched ancient China, including foods, flowers, dwellings, and clothing. I also contacted the writer who gave me the outline for some additional cultural information.

I worked on the story for well over a year, revising it, having it critiqued numerous times, and revising it some more. I even had it professionally edited before beginning to send it out for submissions.

Fortunately for me, the timing coincided with the 2009 Muse Online Writers Conference and I signed up to have a pitch with 4RV Publishing. As nervous as I was, the pitch went well and the manuscript was accepted.

For the next year, it was more revisions, tweaking, additional elements to the story, and editing to make the middle-grade, fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls, better than before.

Then the story was ready for a cover illustration.

Aidana WillowRaven was assigned to my book and although the dragon in the story was described as “a shimmering golden dragon,” Aidana ‘felt’ the flavor of the story pointed to a more traditional Chinese dragon. We went back and forth a bit about the dragon’s size and shape, but Aidana’s vision of what the dragon should look like was perfect.

Now, the description of the 'golden dragon' in the story needed to be corrected. So, I changed the text to read, “Suddenly a magnificent dragon with shimmering red and silver scales appeared.”

Done. The description of the dragon and the cover matched; we were ready to move forward.

Next came the interior design formatting, which includes the text. After blocking the text it was determined another six pages was needed to make the spine wide enough. So, I had to come up with more content.

As the story was complete, to fill the page count I came up with an Author’s Note page, four pages of Reading Comprehension, an Activities Page, and after more research eight pages of information on the Ming Dynasty time period and the Chinese dragon.

Finally, Walking Through Walls, a middle-grade fantasy adventure, won The Children's Literary Classics 2012 Silver Award.

Writing a fiction story from its inception to publication can take many paths; this is the path Walking Through Walls took.

This story was originally published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and successful children’s ghostwriter/rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

You can connect with Karen at LinkedIn:


Don’t Let Your Reader Get Disengaged

One Way to Build Your Freelance Writing Career

5 Ways to Annoy an Editor

Walking Through Walls Receives CLC Silver Book Award


Here's the CLC's Press Release:

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2012
Literary Classics

Literary Classics Announces Youth Media Top Book Winners

SOUTH DAKOTA - Literary Classics announced its 2012 selection of top books for children and young adults today.  Award recipients were selected from entries received throughout the world.  The Literary Classics selection committee is proud to recognize the following titles in children's and young adult literature which exemplify the criteria set forth by the Literary Classics Awards committee.

A list of the 2012 recipients follows:

Best First Picture Book, PreSchool, A Box Story by Kenneth Kit Lamug
Best First Picture Book, Early Reader, Terple Always Dream Bigger by Richie Frieman
Best Illustrator, Bella & Harry, Let's Visit Athens, Illustrated by Kristine Lucco
Best Series, The Bella & Harry Book Series by Lisa Manzione
Best First Chapter Book, Shelby & Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by PHC Marchesi
Gold - Picture Book, Preschooler,  Fantastic Flight by Barbara Bockman
Silver - Picture Book, Preschooler, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by Kathy Stemke
Gold - Picture Book, Early Reader, Bella & Harry Let's Visit London by Lisa Manzione, Illustrated by Kristine Lucco
Silver - Picture Book, Early Reader, Bella & Harry Let's Visit Cairo by Lisa Manzione, Illustrated by Kristine Lucco
Gold - Educational, Early Reader, The Great Divide, Suzanne Slade
Silver - Educational, Early Reader, Animal Animalogies by Marianne Berkes
Gold - Environmental Issues, Early Reader, Sea Turtle Summer by Nancy Stewart
Silver - Environmental Issues, Early Reader, One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart
Gold - Non Fiction Preteen, Clara's Great War by Evelyn Rothstein
Gold - General Preteen, the Casting by Joyce Shor Johnson
Silver - General Preteen, Return to Finkleton by KC Hilton
Gold - Fiction Preteen, the Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Silver - Fiction Preteen, Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi
Gold - Fantasy Preteen, Shelby & Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by PHC Marchesi
Silver - Fantasy Preteen, Shield Maiden by Richard Denning
Gold - Science Fiction Preteen, Shelby & Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by PHC Marchesi
Silver - Science Fiction - Preteen, The Crystal Ship by CJ Carter-Stephenson
Gold - Mystery Preteen, the Stone Child by Dan Poblocki
Gold - General Young Adult, Runaway Twins by Pete Palamountain
Silver - General Young Adult, Young, Funny & Unbalanced by David Smithyman
Gold - Fiction Young Adult, Caves, Cannons & Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure
Silver - Fiction Young Adult, Young Knights of the Round Table The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello
Gold - Non-Fiction Young Adult, Black & White by Larry Dane Brimner
Gold - Fantasy Fiction Young Adult, Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut
Silver - Fantasy Fiction Young Adult, Drawn by Marie Lamba
Gold - Science Fiction Young Adult, the Limit by Kristen Landon
Silver - Science Fiction Young Adult, the Orphan Ship by Sterling R. Walker
Gold - Mystery Young Adult, Stalked by Kristiana Gregory
Cultural Issues, Clara's Great War by Evelyn Rothstein
Holiday, Santa & The Little Teddy Bear by Peter John Lucking
Self Esteem, Beautiful Wild Rose Girl by B. Magnolia
Female Audience, My Sister is my Best Friend by Nicole Weaver
Mature Issues, In Memory of Dad by Maranda Russell

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.  Judging is based upon the criteria set forth by Literary Classics' highly selective awards committee which honors books promoting character, vision, creativity and learning, through content which possesses key elements found in well-crafted literature.

The Literary Classics judging committee consists of experts with backgrounds in publishing, writing, editing, design, illustration, and book reviewing.   To learn more about Literary Classics, visit their website at

I want to thank the CLC for choosing my book and say congratulations to the other winners and the illustrator of Walking Through Walls, Aidana WillowRaven, along with 4RV Publishing. Aidana's illustrations for the children's fantasy middle grade book are amazing.

Please take a minute and check out the Walking Through Walls YouTube Book Trailer




(scroll down to "W")


Only One Life

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch,...