Last October I received a reminder email from Chris, reminding me that I’d wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo in November, telling me that it was time to get ready. I did, and in November I joined the fray, so to speak. I told everyone I was going to do it, to create some pressure, and I dug around in my journals to find the story, and on November 1, I took off. Unfortunately I had to travel for about a week that month and didn’t have time to write my 1667 words a day. In the end I wrote only 25,000 words. After November ended, I didn’t look at it again for about five months. I felt stuck, no idea where I should go next with it. In April my 8-year-old granddaughter asked me to read my novel to her. Sure that she’d be bored with it, I read a couple of pages aloud and stopped. She looked at me expectantly and asked, “So… is the story going to start now?” Assuring her that it started in the very next paragraph I gulped and wondered if it really did, or if I had spent way too much text on the background information. She asked me to read more, so I did, stopping after every few pages, asking if she’d heard enough yet. She insisted I keep reading. When I tired of the read-aloud, she asked if she could read it on her own for a while, until I was rested and could continue reading. Keep in mind that this is not a children’s book, or even a young adult novel, although it contains nothing objectionable to either age group, so far.
When I finally finished reading it to her, she stopped and thought for a while. Then she asked me what was going to happen next. I admitted that I had no idea, and she said she knew what the protagonist needed to do next. “Here, let me write it down for you, so you don’t forget.” On a napkin she wrote that the protagonist needs to go to town on an errand and meet with someone. Her advice made good sense. It will allow me to include a new setting and some new characters to a story that threatens to become permanently stalled.
Throughout my story one of the characters has a blog which is receiving some angry comments, the writer of which has not been revealed yet. After telling me what the protagonist should do next, she asked me, “Who is writing those blog comments? It seems like it is this girl character, Tracy, but I think it should really be her boyfriend Jordan, instead. It fits his personality better and would be better for the story. Surprising, and it would make sense.” She wrote that down for me also, and told me to go write for a while, to see if I could find the thread again.
The kicker about all this for me is that she is absolutely right. Her ideas are excellent, and I intend to follow them. Now we talk about writing quite a bit, and she often urges me to go work on the novel so she can read some more of it. She is hungry to continue with the story. Who knew my editor would be this thoughtful, highly verbal but not precociously literate eight-year-old? We seem to have discovered an emerging talent!