Note: This is the third of six parts. Click here to read from the beginning.
By Kayla Fontaine
I immediately jumped on board when Janice invited me to go to Bay Path University’s Writer’s Day. I knew that any advice I could get my hands on in relation to my own creative writing was an opportunity that I could never pass up.
I walked into the workshop, “Novel 101,” led by author Jacqueline Sheehan, with my notebook and pen ready to absorb any and all information. However, when the conversation started about what makes a good novel, and we all agreed that plot and character development are pertinent to successful novel writing, I put my pen down.
I listened as others described the complex creation process of a character and realized, this is my method. This is how I have already been introduced to Jaide and Grenn, the main characters in my romantic sci-fi book-in-progress. I realized that I just needed to let it happen.
It seems like some psychologist has their work cut out for them when I say this, but Jaide and Grenn tapped on my shoulder in the middle of my British Literature class last semester—smack dab in the middle of reading Beowulf. (Of all the places, right?)
They began to reveal their story to me in my mind, and I had a choice: I could choose to write their story and see where it took me, or, I could simply ignore them and never know what they had to say. And can I just say that if you are a creative writer—it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing or what kind of busy life you lead—you don’t say no to new characters. You just don’t.
The question of the day in this Novel 101 workshop seemed to be “what if?” Ironically, this is exactly how Jaide and Grenn introduced themselves to me.
Then I walked into the second workshop for fiction, “Liars, Criminals, and Lovers: The World of the Story/Fiction 101,” led by author Lisa C. Taylor, and I was reassured once more. Lisa said, “the story doesn’t exist until you tell it.”
We spoke about how each story develops in its own way, and Lisa discussed how she doesn’t know how her stories will end until they are written—I thought I was the only one who wrote this way.
I begin a story, I discover my characters and my plot have a secret agenda of their own, and usually I don’t know where my story will take me until it’s done… which, to me, before this affirmation from Lisa, I thought was the craziest and least effective way to write.
An organized writer is a good writer, right? My only means of organization is the separated folders in my Google Drive.
I walked away from Writer’s Day assured that I wasn’t writing all wrong, but that I needed to let the story tell itself in the way I had been doing all along. Except now, I understand that I need to dedicate some time to my passion of telling the stories that I need to tell.
Writing a novel, fiction or otherwise, is tedious and time consuming. It requires a hefty amount of patience—and I have never been known for my patience.
Maybe I can add my personal creative works to my endless list of tasks to accomplish, but I think I might have to set Jaide and Grenn to the back burner until I am a college graduate in a few short months. (A month can go by in a blink, and there is still so much to be done…)
At least now I can say I am able to embrace the style and timeline I have laid out for my own artistic avenues.
And don’t worry, I plan on sharing my notes from Jacqueline and Lisa’s presentations.
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