I’m just a few chapters into a new novel, but the words are coming out slowly. I’ve written previous first drafts in caffeine-laced rushes of worry and hope, afraid the words would disappear if I didn’t commit them to paper fast enough.
But this draft is different. I started with an idea. I shaped my characters ever so slightly – a job here, a hairstyle there – ahead of time. I’ve refused to outline in the past, shunning it as lacking creativity.
But this time, to feel out my four major characters, I’ve written scenes from their points of view. And through that exercise I’ve discovered this is not a story about what one character wants, but the ripple effect her desires have on others around her. And really, that’s what all stories are about, so mine is no different. But I know now the impact of everyone’s actions. I can anticipate how these characters will move across the dance floor of life.
This story’s paragraphs are heavy, full of metaphor and tension and theme. I’ve been reading Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a book that will make a writer stop and think about just how full you can pack a sentence.
And as this story is coming out slower than anything I’ve written, these well-fed paragraphs drag me along to an end that, for once, is in sight. I’m sprinkling words slowly into this idea of a story, and like Joyce’s snowflakes, they are faintly falling.