Yesterday, I had decided to start correlating all these snippets of scenes and dialogue I’ve accumulated over the years and make it coalesce into a grand unified work of fiction. I wrote one chapter. No, don’t be impressed, it was short and not impressive. I don’t really know where it’s going.
Which is why I decided to listen to some podcasts on writing today, which led me to a TED talk, which when reading the comments led me to this site, the Snowflake method. That looks like a good place to start. (And yes, this is how I read/consume media, one labyrinthine path to the next, never knowing where I might end up).
Step 1: Write a one-sentence summary of my novel. Check out NYTimes for hints.
But my novel cannot be condensed into one mere sentence! Especially when I haven’t written it yet! . . . okay, this is what the structure appears to be:
When an [adjective] person has [something happen], she must [do something about it that you want to read].
That last part is pretty rough, let’s start with the person. How do I describe her? Quirky female? Ugh, that sounds like me. Yes, obviously parts of me are going to manifest because I’m writing it, but I only want to use the best parts of me. And if really embarrassing things are going to happen to my character, I want her to be different enough so that I don’t feel like they’re happening to me. I gotta have some distance. But my character has to go through some troubles, right? No one’s going to read, “…and Lena lived happily ever after, skipping in a field of sunshine and flowers.” I can’t even buy birthday cards like that, much less write it. Okay, summary sentence, here we go!
“When a unconventional woman. . .” ugh no.
“An offbeat woman finds. . .” no, she sounds like a pot-smoking hippie. That’s not meant to be an insult, it’s just not my character. As in the character I’m writing.
“A sensitive and soul-searching woman. . . ” GAH. Magic thesaurus on the wall, help me find the best word of all. Find me a synonym for geeky. Computer specialist? No thanks, not a useful descriptor for getting you to fall in love with my character.
“A searching woman struggles to make peace with her right- and left-brains.” That’ll bring them in.
Except, of course, I’m forgetting about the other character. And if we had to take his view into account, it would be something like:
“Men and woman can be friends, even if the sex part DOES get in the way.” That’s not a great tagline. Obviously references “When Harry Met Sally.” But it is what the novel is about, so I guess it’s a start.