Progress, Nicholas Sparks, and Why I’m Confident This Novel Will At Least Be Original

So I have about 349 days to complete my novel.   Two weeks ago (when I had 350 words) that meant I had to write about 200 words a day to reach my goal.  Of course, my birthday, bachelorette parties and Inauguration weekend got in the way, so I didn’t work on this for an entire week.  Then when I looked back on the 350 words I had written, I realized they were horrible!  Normally horribleness wouldn’t bother me (since high school I’ve had the strategy of first getting words on the page and then editing, editing, editing) but the piece was really heading in the wrong direction.  My few paragraphs were in the first person, had a very casual tone, and honestly sounded way too much like me and this blog!  My hope is for this novel to be a bit (OK a LOT) more sophisticated than this thing.

While living my life and pondering about how to proceed next, I cautiously shared a high level version of my plot idea to an acquaintance.  Her response was that the premise reminded her of a novel written by Nicholas Sparks (he wrote The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Safe Haven and more).  Thankfully, she didn’t refer to one of the ones that became a movie, but her response did annoy me for 5 seconds…until I realized that any idea I have probably exists in some form somewhere.  So instead of running away from the news, I decided to embrace it.

I purchased the book she mentioned and started reading.  Immediately I was inspired. When I think of Nicholas Sparks, I think of break-your-heart romance, and that’s exactly what I’m going for.   I haven’t finished it yet, but already it has given me an idea about how to structure my story.  Specifically, his novel is written by the point of view of both the man and the woman in the relationship.  Waaaay back in the day, that’s how I originally envisioned my story.  Back then, it was Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan that had come to mind.  I moved away from that because I thought it would be too difficult to execute; however, now I think my original instincts were correct.  I want to take people inside of a relationship, and the best way to do that is to hear both sides of the story.  This will also ensure that I understand both of the main characters really well—not just the woman (who is NOT going to be me!!)  AND it nixes the whole first person perspective.  I could be wrong, but I feel like the first person point of view is more casual or something.  Or maybe it will just be hard for me to  make it not casual.  Either way, I feel good about this move.

In terms of the whole this-is just-like-this-other-novel thing—I’m just not worried about that ish. As soon as I started reading the Sparks book, I became confident that the experiences informing my writing will simply not be anything like those that informed Sparks, McMillan or any other writer who published a novel about a relationship! Therefore, I know mine will be original. 🙂 Whew! Glad I got over that!

So where am I at now?   Well, I deleted my 350 words.  I tried to just start free writing again, but that didn’t work so I went back to my old post about the snowflake method!  I’ve started working on this daily—fleshing out the plot and characters, but haven’t started producing yet.  At first I thought I would do this after work, but I just can’t.  So it’s been happening for an hour before I go to work.  Hopefully it will last.  Either way, I’m so happy to be making progress!!

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