Sample text for A beginning, a muddle, and an end : the right way to write writing / Avi ; with illustrations by Tricia Tusa.

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In Which Avon Feels Low

it was a dull, rainy morning, utterly gloomy.

Inside his house, Avon, a rather small snail, was staring at a blank piece of paper that stood before him. Across the room, his friend Edward the ant was lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling, which was just as blank.

Avon sighed. “The truth is, Edward,” he said, “I’ve read a lot of adventures. And I’ve been on my own adventures. But I’m making no progress writing about my adventures.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” said Edward. “Do you know anything about why?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s at the end of the alphabet,” said Avon, “next to Z.”

“I mean,” said Edward, “that when writing goes poorly, it sometimes has to do with how you are feeling. Can you tell me how you feel?”

“Well, my spirits are . . . down.”

“Avon, must I remind you? We live in a tree. You’re actually up.”

“Then how can I be so low?”

“Avon,” said Edward, “would-be writers often think attitude is most important. More often than not, it’s altitude.

=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; tab-stops: 24.0pt" “I’ve never looked at things that way,” said Avon.

“Then it’s time for you to look another way,” suggested Edward. “After all, if you’re looking down, it’s only logical to assume you’re up. But if you’re looking up, you must be down. Still, I must advise you, some think it’s best to be neither high nor low, but in the middle.”

“I don’t think,” said Avon, “I’ve ever heard anyone say, ‘I’m feeling middle.’”

“Perhaps you need to get a grip on yourself,” said Edward.

“Edward!” cried Avon. “How can I get a grip when I have no hands?”

“My apologies,” said Edward in haste. “I some-times forget that we ants have a lot of hands.”

“I always thought they were legs,” said Avon.

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“Sometimes it’s better to have a leg up. Other moments it’s good to be handy.”

“My mother thought I was handsome,” said Avon. “I’ve always tried to hold on to that. Will that get me anyplace?”

“Avon!” cried Edward. “Don’t go anyplace. Go someplace.”

“What’s wrong with anyplace?”

“You’ll never find it on a map,” said Edward.

“But what does place have to do with writing?”

“Avon,” said Edward, “to write well, you need to know where you are going. My guess is that your writing has lost all sense of direction.”

“It’s hard for me to have a sense of direction,” said Avon, “when I didn’t even know I was supposed to go someplace.”

“Avon, trust me. Great writing depends on your height: low, middle, or high.”

“I’d like my writing to be right up there on the top,” said Avon.

“Nothing could be easier,” said Edward. “Because living where we do, as I’ve said, up in a tree, you’re halfway there.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Avon.

“Perfect,” said Edward. “Because when it comes to writing, it’s wise to start with a plan.”

Avon brightened. “My plan has always been to write.”

“Exactly,” said Edward. “Write first. You can always figure out what you’ve written later.”

Text copyright © 2008 by Avi
Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Tricia Tusa

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Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Authorship -- Juvenile fiction.
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction.
Snails -- Juvenile fiction.
Ants -- Juvenile fiction.
Animals -- Juvenile fiction.
Authorship -- Fiction.
Adventure and adventurers -- Fiction.
Snails -- Fiction.
Ants -- Fiction.
Animals -- Fiction.