Friday, September 20, 2013

WRITING A NOVEL - Time Span, Point of View, Characters

A few of my thoughts…

Time Span: A few years? A few months? A few weeks or days? Or perhaps only a few hours? There are several storylines rattling around in my head, but what I am thinking about now is the time span of the story.

A novel can span years or hours but in all cases the time span must match the type of story. Each story demands a time span. There are epics that span a lifetime as it follows the life between two characters and their challenges to be together. My Flight Trilogy is like this. Flight to Paradise starts when Ryan and Keri are seniors in high school and when Flight to Freedom ends, Keri and Ryan are in their late 50’s. Some stories span multiple generations as decades pass and history unfolds in the background. Extremely short time spans are often used in an action or a thriller story to emphasize its fast pace. The majority of Flight into Darkness took place in a few hours. When the time frame is shorter, like a day or a week, it gives more immediacy.

The story I have in mind next will require a time span of at least several months and preferably a year or more. I want it to be a character driven story set in the South. As I debate the story idea, I’m thinking about my readers and how they have responded to my first three books. This is why I love to hear from readers. Without knowing it, comments and reviews from readers form my thinking as I consider the storyline and the characters.

Point of View:  First person or third person? I am tempted to create a story that would allow me to write it in first person point of view, but am not sure I can deal with it. Although a story written in first person is limiting, it is more intimate. Maybe one day, but not this time. As it stands now, I will be using third person point of view in my next story.

Characters: I’m starting to spend time with possible characters. I know this might sound weird, but I often imagine the characters for the story and take them with me during the day. I think of how they would act, what they would be saying and doing in certain situations. Everywhere I go I look for my characters. When I talk with people I ask questions hoping to better understand their lives. In busy places I sometimes “people watch”, look at their faces, and imagine what their lives are like at home and at work. I think about what they are afraid of and consider a dozen “what ifs”. My characters are not formed from only one person, but from a combination of people I see, know, have known, or have seen. In many ways we all are connected by common threads. This is my challenge; to write a story that my readers can identify with and one that will resonate long after the last page is read. I aim to write a story that offers the reader hope, for I believe that hopelessness is an epidemic that is sweeping the globe.

This is how the story forms. Once I get the big pieces in my mind, it will start to move much faster.

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