Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Process: Ordinary People

I have been attempting to complete Chapter Two of my "Ordinary People" fictional piece. I am realizing that one of my weaknesses in writing my novels is that I do not map out the characters in my stories. I usually allow the story to unfold as I write. This approach has made me less effective, slow, and is totally subject to the whims of the events of my day in the real world.

For instance, I have been reading Ladder of Years: A Novel by Anne Tyler. It's a story about a 40-year old wife and mother who, out of the blue, walks out on her family. The story follows Delia, the main character, and her journey after walking away from her husband and family. I give this short summary of the novel because my main character in ORDINARY PEOPLE, who hasn't been named yet, was beginning to sound like Delia. Even though many married women can identify with Anne Tyler's portrayal of a woman who is tired of being a wife and mother, I don't want my character to be and sound the same as another character. Does that make sense? Delia is, however, an interesting character but very similar to many women across the world. Though I can't say that I can identify with the mother part, I can definitely follow Delia's dissatisfaction with being a wife. Being a wife is not as bad as I just made it sound. It's definitely tough though. Sometimes there are more bad days than good but the good is REALLLLLY good.

In the past I have tried writing stories that was everything that I thought would be interesting or "deep" to the audience. That is just NOT working for me nor do I think it would work for any true writer. I am beginning to trust my own voice. I don't want to ponder how an audience receives my writing - I want to write from my gut and from a position that is authentic to me.

A couple months ago I read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis and saw the Oprah interview. If I remember correctly, Oprah asked Ayana if any of the characters were similar to her. Ayana said that none of it is pulled from experience. The characters were from her imagination. I find that hard to believe because many of the characters I develop have some kind of similarity to me. I thought that was an interesting statement. Forgive me if I am remembering that interview incorrectly. I read the entire book and I did a short summary back in March about it. I wasn't as excited as Oprah was about that book only because it left me wanting more from it. To introduce so many different characters and leave all their stories so open-ended was a real drag by the end of the book.

I hope to post Chapter 2 on Friday. If not, definitely by Monday.

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