In approaching the writing of a novel I have been doing several writing exercises to build my story properly. I don't suppose there's an actual "proper" way but using another person's template is proving to be very effective. Thus, my use of Book In A Month. You can find it on Amazon.
The most recent exercise called on me to answer the following question:
What keeps showing up in the stories I love to read?
Answering these questions requires me to think about all my favorite books and favorite authors.
My 4th grade Language Arts teacher read to the class The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. Every Friday afternoon, she would take out the book and read one chapter to us. I remember looking forward to it every Friday. She was so good at bringing the story to life. I feel so sad when I think of how really good teachers have no significant compensation for their work and their ability to influence generations. Miss Ellie Tepper has truly been an inspiration to me because of the work she did in that 4th grade class room. What did my 4th grade brain and heart love most about the book? I loved that the main character was not Caucasian/Anglo-Saxon/White. In other words, the heroine was someone I could identify with. Because of her non-White heritage and her island upbringing, she and I would be more alike than not. I found that very endearing.
This, above all, shows up the most in the stories that I love... my need to read stories about non-White women or women that are more like me. If I must read stories about non-White women then so too must I write and tell the story about women like me. Going even further back in time I remember loving the children's story book about John Henry and the Native American story Arrow to the Sun. These stories are in addition to the many native Hawaiian folktales that I accepted as my identity. Stories about Maui, Kamapua'a, Pele, Hi'iaka, the menehune.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker blew my reading world wide open! The movie is as authentic as it can be to the essence of the story. What I loved the most about The Color Purple is the format she chose to tell the story. Her letters to God reveal the life she lives and the life that is around her.
My mother loved to read but she favored Danielle Steele and Harlequin romances and I... uh... didn't/don't care for any of it! As a result, I was limited to the reading that was suggested by my school teachers.
I remember reading The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I am not African-American but I remember feeling so fulfilled by the end of the story; so very bittersweet!
These are great books to think on and I can see the themes that continue to come up. So, I have concluded that I must write a story that has a female, non-Caucasian heroine.