Finding the Story

Finding my next novel to sink my mind into has been a long journey. Since finishing Polarity, I have had been through countless ideas, but none of them hooked me enough to get them off the ground floor. Polarity was a suspense novel but a bit of whimsy in the world, and I was desperate to be capture by another idea in the same way.

I thought that maybe I should write what I enjoy reading the most: domestic thrillers. I had several very intriguing ideas, but none of them found focus, and I struggled to flesh them out beyond the initial “what if” question. I invested a lot of time into these ideas, exploring location and characters and plots, and one day, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to repurpose the best pieces for another story.

Then, I thought that maybe I should watch what I enjoy watching: spooky ghost stories. I am obsessed with Harpers Ferry, WV, having tried to write several stories in this location in the past. My husband took me on a mini vacation to finally see and explore Harpers Ferry in person at the end of 2019, and I was even more obsessed afterwards. I set my mind on a ghost story, hoping to get sucked in completely to the idea.

Discipline and determination can only get you so far.

Just in the same way that a good book can hook you on the first page and then you can’t stop reading until it’s finished, I have to get hooked by my story. It has to pull me in and make me believe that there are endless possibilities and a strong throughline. And none of the ideas I had were capturing me.

On the side, of course, I am writing musicals with my husband, and there was one idea that we kept discussing but Jeremy (by hubster) was firm that the story was overdone, even if done in an inauthentic way every time we had seen it turned into a movie, play, or musical. Plus, he argued, we had so many other great, unique ideas that were fresh.

But that story idea kept coming back to me with a passion, because it was a story that I wanted to have told without the whitewashing and rose-colored glasses. When you strip away the beauty montages, the love story, the perfect faith, there is a much more relatable and inspiring story. That was the story I wanted to be told by someone but every time I felt let down.

So, after years of casually studying the story, the history, the context, I knew I wanted to tell this story. That was over a year ago. And I kept putting it off for one reason: I didn’t want to write a Bible story. And I didn’t want people to be shook because all the things they imposed on the story had disappeared, or at least shifted in a darker direction. This story wasn’t VeggieTales, after all, so I set out to figure out a way to take away those reconceptions and present this story as something fresh. Something people would find themselves sinking into and forgetting, even for a moment, the story they grew up hearing.

And then the pieces began to fall into place this past summer. I had that burst of inspiration that helped me to finally find the lens through which I wanted to tell this story.

It has been so refreshing to be hooked, to be pulled in, to sink deeper and deeper in understanding of the world, the characters, and the story. My hope is that this story will refresh you as it has refreshed me; that these simple words would be a call to courage, to faith, to righteousness for you as they have become for me:

“Perhaps you have been chosen for such a time as this.”

Another NaNo Done, What’s Next?

I finished NaNoWriMo strong with 50,963 words, and found time to write for at least 30 minutes almost every single day in November! It was good to get the gears turning again, especially since the last couple years for me have been spent focusing on producing theatre and not writing novels.

I learned a lot this past month, and gained a lot of lost confidence too. I choose a project that was solely for fun, and that gave me a lot of freedom to write without needing the story or characters or scenes to be good in any way! Rather, I was giving myself the freedom to write a bad scene, or change something on the fly just so I could experiment with writing styles. After all, I wouldn’t have to go back and edit it later!

I did get my first ever Winner T-Shirt this year after 7 winning years!

At the end, I got about half-way through the novel I had plotted for NaNoWriMo, but along the way had finally gotten the inspiration to figure out the details for the big novel I have been building in my brain since finishing Polarity. Here’s a little teaser.

There is a story that I am quite passionate about, but I feel like it always gets told wrong. Horrible situations are romanticized; ambigious characters are glorified; fear is flattened where it should be terrifying. I waited and waited for someone to tell this story right, or even historically correct. Finally, I decided that I would just try to do it myself.

Now, I didn’t want people to come in with their expectations. This isn’t a love story. It isn’t simple. And it certainly isn’t a kid’s story. So I had to find ways to mix it up, to subvert those expectations so that they can see the story that I see. A story about political intrigue. A story about slavery and manipulation. A story about great fear and good reason for it. A story where a young woman defies the men who try to control her and finds the courage to fight for what is right.

That’s all the clues I’m going to drop for now. I have been working hard on worldbuilding, pinteresting, and writing some short story excercises to get to know my setting and characters before I dive into writing in a couple weeks. I’ll be sure to share more tidbits with you as I go and I look forward to sharing this novel with you in the future. I hope you will see the amazing story that I see when you do.

There Is No Time Like November

Do you have a story you want to tell but you have no idea where to begin? NaNoWriMo this November is the perfect time to get that story out of your imagination and onto paper! And I want to help you be successful in not only finally starting your story, but writing 50,000 words of it in just 30 days.

Have coffee with me every Monday morning in October at 10am and where I will share a crash course on how I prepare for NaNoWriMo. These 4 brief prep sessions will tackle…
Week 1: Why – Theme & Premise
Week 2: Who, When, & Where – Character, Backstory, & Location
Week 3: What – Plot
Week 4: How – Pull It All Together

The world needs your story, and there is no time like November to write it!

I have prepared for National Novel Writing Month and succeeded in writing at least 50,000 words just in the month of November every year I have participated since 2013. The first draft of all three of my published novels – The Keeper, The Varken, and Polarity – were written during NaNoWriMo!

Prep Sessions will be livestreamed on my Facebook page and then uploaded to Instagram.