When everything shut down back in March because of Covid, one positive thought I had was, “Well, at least I will get lots of writing done.”
Reader, I did not get lots of writing done. I struggled for some time to get any writing done.
But recently I’ve returned to the draft I put aside all those months ago, and I am slowly making progress.
All this time away has allowed me to view my work-in-progress with fresh eyes. And, happily, I’m still enthusiastic about it. These characters are calling to me. They want me to tell their story. And I want to tell it. But I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that.
My work-in-progress is a family drama with multiple perspectives. I have a strong handle on the characters–what they want and need, what’s standing in their way, what they fear. The problem is the structure.
When I wrote my young adult novel (which I am currently seeking a publisher for), the story was very linear, and I wrote it that way. I started at the beginning and went from event A to B to C until the story got to the climax and then to the end. (Of course I had to go in and add and delete scenes in subsequent drafts, but you get the idea.)
My work-in-progress, however, is a bit different. Its focus is on ideas and character, and I want to show how things in the past have affected the family and led them to the present. I need to go back to reveal certain secrets. I need to make sure these are revealed at the right time, both to the characters in the book, as well as to the reader.
It probably doesn’t help that I didn’t write this book in a chronological way either. I started with one scene (that is currently placed somewhere in the middle of the book) and then I moved on to write a scene taking place at another point in time, etc. I don’t regret writing it that way. It’s how the story came to me, and how the story and characters developed in my mind. And now I can truly say I know my characters–and where they are coming from–extremely well.
But now I have some thinking to do. What’s the best way to tell this family’s story? Is this a book of linked short stories? Is it framed by the present and the middle is the past? Or do I alternate between the present and past? Should I divide the book into sections? And then is it divided by time or by character? Both?
There are a lot of options, and I imagine there might be some trial and error as I try to figure this out. I keep telling myself that all the work will be worth it. (Let’s hope I’m right.)