Tell me what your novel is about in one sentence. I don’t mean an elevator pitch intended to sell the manuscript in thirty seconds or less. What is your deepest connection to the story? Why are you writing the blasted tome anyway? When we discussed this at the Whole Novel Workshop, Stephen Roxburgh suggested considering concepts like redemption, salvation, forgiveness or recovery.
Here are the core stories for my many trunk novels and works in progress.*
A boy rediscovers friendship.
A girl acquires courage.
Two brothers learn to love each other.
A girl rescues her grandfather.
My statements are general enough that they could describer many novels, but they state the underlying concept that the reader is supposed to identify with and remember. They also remind me why I started the project in the first place.
*I have another WIP that my family and critique group have encouraged me to focus on. To be truthful, I don’t yet know the characters or the plot well enough to state its core story. I can’t write that novel until I figure out what it is about.
Our holiday officially started last night when we picked up Sam after his last final. For the next couple weeks, the house will be full of young rock stars, ninjas and mathematicians. Amazing amounts of food will be consumed. The Christmas tree will shine and Chanukah candles will blaze.
I also plan to finish my current draft, the one where I’m listening for Selena’s voice. I don’t imagine that I’ll nail it, but I hope to make progress. My next draft is also dedicated to Selena’s voice.
At the Whole Novel Workshop in Honesdale, our teaching assistant, Candy Dahl, proposed an exercise for developing a character’s voice.
Take a blank piece of paper.
Write “Dear [your name]” at the top.
Write “Love [your character’s name]” at the bottom.
Lie down on your bed and imagine your character entering the room and talking to you.
After five minutes, get up and write what the character said. Stream of consciousness is okay.
Yeah, it sounds crazy, but it works.
I experimented with this technique at Honesdale and got amazing results. I am doing a major revision in which my main character and his love interest change places, and the voice of the new main character has eluded me. Since every draft should have one purpose, I put aside my worries about voice and focused on the major changes in the plot.
The first draft is finished, and now is the time to think about voice.
I decided to start each writing day with Candy’s exercise. My (new) main character is bossy and more than happy to tell me what to do. It’s working so far.
I photograph this crabapple tree a lot. This time, I was trying to catch the last bit of light before the sun sank below the tops of the trees. The snow always photographs a bit blue at this time of day.