Both my sons have played football this fall. My older son is on the high school freshman team, my younger son the middle school team. That means lots of practices and games for us to coordinate and watch. I love watching football. It's a sport where the offense work very hard to make something happen - to push toward the goal line. They constantly try new methods, shifting sides or formations or players. At the same time, the defense is working very hard to read the play, to stop the progress, and thwart the efforts of the opposing team.
As I'm stewing about revisions to my writing, I've been thinking; Does my main character spend most of her time calling the plays, or is she more in a defensive mode, trying to read what is happening and stop it before it's too late? Is she choosing what is happening to her, or is it being thrust upon her by the opposing side? Which side of the game should she be spending the most time on?
We've all read books where the main character tends to spend all their time responding to outside forces, being pulled along by the plot. Sometimes those books have even won awards. But I tend to prefer the books where the main character is calling the shots. Sure, they make mistakes, fumble the ball, and then have to clean up the mess that follows, but they were the ones calling the play in the first place.
I like a proactive main character. The more I write, the better I am at recognizing when that needs to happen, and when it's time for defense. Usually, a winning football team spends most of their time on offense - with lots of drives and first downs - just keeping their wits ahead of the opposition. That's what I'm trying to do in my writing. At the same time, I can be my character's biggest cheerleader from the sidelines.
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!