Narrative Decision

It hasn’t been quite a week yet since I began reworking, but I am working on my novel again and now I’m determined to finish! (I keep saying this in my head to convince myself every day that it is true).

The creative break through that I had last week still resonates within me and I have been writing, editing, organizing, and thinking critically about the draft I have so far. I normally find it very hard to look at my own work analytically, but the time that we’ve had apart has made it easier to see my work with fresh eyes. It’s been so long since I began this story that I have actually surprised myself while reading it this time. Every once in a while I find myself thinking, “What a good detail to include.” And of course there are the other moments where I keep thinking it doesn’t make sense.

As far as actual progress goes, I haven’t done much adding to my story yet, but I have done some rearranging and serious editing. At the beginning of the week I found myself flummoxed by a narrative choice I made when I originally wrote this story. In my original draft I set my story up as a frame narrative, and I have been reconsidering whether that is the best path for me to take with this particular story. The solution…

When in doubt consult Literature that has stood the test of time!

Cover of
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It just so happens that Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of my favorite books and one of the few books I’ve actually reread several times. (This is probably why I chose a frame narrative to begin with). Anyway, as I was saying, I couldn’t decide whether the frame narrative set-up worked for me, so I pulled Conrad off the shelf and reread the first 20 pages or so.

Cover of
Cover via Amazon


After that, I pulled Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw off the shelf too because I remembered while reading Conrad that James’s novel was also a frame narrative. (By the way, I am not trying to say that my writing is anywhere on the same level as these two great works of Literary brilliance). I just think that seeing the literary device of the frame narrative (also called a framework story) used in other literature helped me to work out what tense and voice to use in my own novel.

So again I say, when in doubt consult Literature that has stood the test of time!

In addition to deciding to keep the frame structure on my novel, I have also been dealing with the doubts that all creative people face. I’m not sure why, but I picked up the book The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron and began to read it.

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I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and I haven’t gotten around to reading it. I have occasionally skimmed through it, but this time I actually started reading the introduction. Within the first two pages I came across something that helped me find the energy to refocus my efforts.

“Don’t be distracted by the opinions of others, real or imagined. Don’t worry about getting published – that’s a whole new topic, and one worth investigating if that’s your goal, but it’s a needless and potentially harmful distraction when you’re writing. Don’t worry about ‘getting better’ or fret whether you’re really any good. Read a lot. Write a lot.” (page 3).

That was exactly what I needed.

And then a few pages later, “If you want to write, you must begin by beginning, continue by continuing, finish by finishing. This is the great secret of it all. Tell no one.” (page 7).

I also came across this during the week, and it reminded me that there is magic in creating…