Sunday 20 June 2021

The moment that changed my novel - Don't be afraid to change course if you're stuck in a rut

 Don't be afraid to change course with your novel 

It's always good to hear that people have finally got down to writing that novel that they've had held deep inside of them for years spurred on by the pandemic. Or to read about those writers who have never gotten so much writing done.

If you're like me and find yourself in the I'm struggling to write anything camp, you might feel discouraged.

Struggling to write? 

At several points over the last year, I have seriously thought about giving up writing anything at all. Because of money pressures, I have found myself working longer hours to earn money from ways other than my writing. Unless you are one of the 1% of writers who makes a very good living, writing fiction is a very badly paying trade.

It's only just recently that I have re-focused back on my work in progress, a psychological crime thriller. The reason - I've realised I need a different approach. 

Time for a new beginning

The beginning of the book has to be rewritten and rejigged to make it the compelling read I want it to be. The type of book I love to read which I hope to write.

The moment of realisation came for me when I witnessed a distressing scene where a woman was staring at a couple's daughter who looked about 9 years old. This was in a supermarket and the woman's staring was such that the mother noticed it and pointed it out to her husband who angrily spoke to her. 'What are you looking at? Stop staring at my daughter like that.'

In usual circumstances, if someone spoke to you like that and everybody turned round to stare, you would be mortified and shuffle off away from public scrutiny. But this woman kept staring. It was as if she was transfixed and I could see the man getting angrier and advancing towards her.

Thankfully at this stage another lady who appeared to know the woman ran up to her put her arm around her and led her off.

I later found out from someone who worked in the supermarket tills that she knew the woman who had been staring and her daughter had been abducted by her husband 2-years ago and taken abroad. Apparently, she still kept seeing her child everywhere.

'I think she thought that little girl was her daughter,' the check-out assistant told me. 'She's mistaken other children for hers too before.'

Good fiction comes from truth

As well as feeling heartsick for that poor woman, the whole thing made me think that the novel I was writing that had a similar theme of a missing child, needed to be changed.

What if after witnessing such a scene and finding out the reason behind it, someone offered to help her find her child? And so I decided to totally restructure the start of my novel.

Will it work and make it the gripping read I want it to be? I hope so. It's in witnessing human moments like hers that you realise reality is often stranger than fiction.

I also hope, that one day very soon, that poor woman is reunited with her child.

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