Back in grade school days, my younger sister Emily and I would often get together with the neighbor girls, who lived just across the pasture. I remember the four of us sitting at the dining room table with pencils and paper, making detailed charts in preparation for an afternoon of play.
First we had to decide on names—first, middle, and last–for our character selves, along with hair color and eye color and family history. As I recall, those imagined selves tended to be considerably more exotic than their creators.
What I cannot remember is whether we ever actually finished planning and got around to playing. I do know that our friends were sometimes summoned home for supper before any of us had left the table.
Many years later at that same table, Emily and I started plotting the story we first called “Girls of the Plank Road.” We sat with pencils and paper and decided on names for our characters, along with hair color and eye color and family history. Naturally, from the very beginning that story included scenes of Katie running to visit Florence, the dear friend who lived just across the pasture.