Friday, September 14, 2012
My Transformation to Writer Continues
I read literary fiction. Some of it dry as stale toast; some of it exciting; all of it not what I felt qualified to try. I wanted to write about strong women in situations beyond their immediate control. I wanted to drop women into a maelstrom and see if they could swim. Some sank. Some stunk. A few rode the froth of the eddy to the top to grab my attention. Enough of these tired cliches.
I found I liked strong women. I liked reading about them. I liked writing about them. In fact, the main character in my Mad Max novel was not supposed to be the main character. She started life as a secondary character, rather like a Greek chorus, commenting on action but not being affected by it. And then one day, she grabbed me by the throat and shook me. "Listen to me," she shouted. "My story is the only important one."
I had started Mad Max: Unintended Consequences as a story about a divorcing couple. I wrote in first person from three points of view: the wife, the husband and Mad Max. The wife becomes strung out on drugs. I had a terrific time writing long, rambling, run-on sentences reflective of what goes on in an addled brain. The husband thought and spoke in clipped terms. Half sentences, partial thoughts, Clint Eastwood-type "go ahead, make my day" stuff. Great fun. Max was more measured in thought and speech, expressing herself in complete sentences, adding her observations as her daughter's marriage dissolved. The first working title was Death of a Marriage. Didn't work.
My writing group, the Lake Writers, suggested (no, twisted my arm) I write using a single point of view, a single voice. I didn't think the story would be interesting, but I tried. First I tried the daughter. Not good. I never thought about writing from the husband's voice. That's when Max stood on her hind legs and yelled at me. The more I let Max be Max, the better the narrative flowed.
So, I locked myself into first person singular. Max tells her story her way. Sassy at times. Snarky at others. She has to deal with the dissolution of a complete family. And in so doing, she is forced to choose between doing what the family needs and doing what she needs.
You'll have to wait for a later post to see how she balances the conflict.