Blog & Novel Ideas
Narrate events around a particular challenge you face.
Write vividly and vulnerably about your experiences.
Develop the theme or perspective connecting your posts.
See if you resolve the challenge or conflict you face. (You have to, right?)
Go ahead and imagine ALL that could have happened to you as well.
Now write THAT story.
I follow Will’s daily posts and consider whether they might be woven into an interesting story and, if so, how. I worked with Will several years back, turning his posts about his year at college in D.C. into the novel A Just Man Is Hard to Find. My name is Jeanne Hammond. I share this site with Will, to offer insights about writing. There are many wonderful blogs out there about the writing craft, and over the next month or so, we’ll be adding more of them to our blog roll.
When I meet up with Will this time, he’s in Puerto Rico. I’ve enjoyed his recent posts, but of course I wonder what he isn’t sharing. For example, I’m intrigued that he’s returned to the island, but I wonder why he decided to leave New York. Why did he believe now was the time to reach back out to Maria? I’m wondering if he broke up with someone he was dating there and simply began to feel nostalgic for Maria. He’s known her for years, but does he know her very well at all? Why did Maria break up with him four years ago? He said he would share that story, but so far he hasn’t. Before I can narrate Will’s story, I will have to fill in a whole lot of blanks.
First question I need to consider: Do his posts suggest a bigger story? One with sufficient dramatic conflict?
I think so. He’s living his life in real time and things could move along quickly now that Maria and he are dating again. But we don’t know for sure, do we? He may mess up again. He seems to be pushing for something that may not be real. I want to see him succeed in life and love, of course. I’m also a bit worried for him and would hate to see him hurt.
So I believe his story’s got a dramatic conflict that will lend suspense over the course of a narrative. I do feel I want to know if he and Maria will face the challenges that are ahead and grow in their love for each other.
Having identified the dramatic conflict, I think I’d like to write the novel. But another key decision is what voice to use for the narration. Let me give that some thought and get back to you.
I suggested that determining whether there is a dramatic conflict — some problem to resolve — is the first consideration when writing a novel. Will’s desire to marry Maria, given the challenges they face as a couple, is dramatic enough for me to consider writing a second novel based on his blog. Now that’s decided, I have to come up with the narrative voice. So, who’s going to be telling this story, anyway? I suppose Will could, again. Will’s first-person posts have a certain energy. But for the particular story I want to tell, I find Will’s posts pretty thin on detail — especially about Maria.
Will cares very much about Maria, obviously, but he really hasn’t told us very much about her — not yet, anyway. In his post, “She’s My Wanna-Be,” Will suggests Maria must be remarkably gentle and forgiving. That’s interesting, but it only makes me wonder, Why? Why wasn’t she more upset when he accused her of seeing someone else behind his back? Bottom line? I’ll need to know a lot more about Maria, if I’m to make this novel a true-to-life love story.
No doubt Will wants to be discrete about what he shares, so Maria doesn’t feel too exposed. That’s understandable. I know Maria keeps a diary –-has for years — but Will says that is “out of bounds, at least for now. So, I am left to simply imagine what Maria might write for no one’s eyes but her own.
And why not imagine? Perhaps the Maria I imagine could narrate the next novel! But, then again, maybe a third-person limited voice (from Maria’s perspective) would limit how Will is portrayed. Certain things that he feels, she simply couldn’t know.
Perhaps the best option is the somewhat old-fashioned third-person omniscient voice. With that voice, there is nothing off limits. The island itself could share its secrets! Puerto Rico’s legend and lore could be woven into the story, in other words. An omniscient narrator could do that and also convey what Will and Maria are both thinking and feeling –- not just what they are doing and saying. Such a narrator could evoke the sensual, natural rhythm of life — a life that Will seems absorbed by but just manages to keep at bay. Will still lives very much in his head. He says he loves Maria, and I believe him, but I suspect the island might want to test his mettle. Anyway, I feel the third-person omniscient voice has few limitations, if my goal is to tell an epic love story!
Using a narrative voice that personifies the island –- a voice with such potential symbolic resonance — will be a real challenge for me. I may throw some of my free-writes your way over the coming months. Many of you are writers; all of you are readers. I can’t think of a better group to ask for feedback!