I’m trying some new techniques in writing my latest novel, Worthy. In addition to using different narrative styles, I’m also working on developing a different dynamic for each character that’s reflected in the narrative style. While not explicitly telling the story through each characters’s specific voice, I’m experimenting with the look and feel of each perspective. I’m also utilizing different forms of writing, news articles and chat transcripts, and trying to streamline the prose with more action and fewer “he says” or “she says”.
For instance, the character Regan will mostly be presented through a series of journal entries, written with the intention of sharing with her sister, Rosalind. This allows her to address the audience directly, hopefully giving her section a more intimate feel. This is appropriate for the character, since Regan is an artist. As such, the audience is only privy to the details she chooses to reveal.
Rosalind, on the other hand, shares her thoughts with the audience in a sort of directed stream of consciousness. We hear her thoughts, but she’s not explicitly telling the story through them, just adding asides that enhance the story that’s being told. Rosalind is a pivotal character, whose actions have a direct impact on events throughout the story.
Worthy started out as a novella I serialized on my blog in 2016. It was originally meant to be an origin story for a minor character from a play I was developing called Another Mother. The play was selected by The Essential Theatre for their play writing award in 2017 and received a full production in my home neighborhood in Atlanta, in the building that once housed the library where I learned to read as a child. Working on the play helped in the evolution of each character who ended up in the novel.
After the run of the play, I had an idea which I tentatively called Regan and Rosie, which would provide background on the situation behind the play. At the time, I was reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and the supernatural elements influenced the story I started to tell. Neither Worthy nor Regan and Rosie went beyond my initial plans for them, and in the meantime, I developed other projects, such as the Atlanta Stories collections and the novelization of my play Rebecca, Too. Elements of Worthy and Another Mother found their way into Rebecca on which they had originally been based, and by the time I was ready to start on Worthy again, I rolled elements of Regan and Rosie into it, along with much of the situation in Mother.
The result is the backstory of the play. It’s much more complex than I had originally envisioned and I’ve had to delay trying to publish or submit Mother to theaters until I had the backstory clear in my head. Now that I have the story in a form I’m reasonably satisfied with, I can once again start developing the play. The challenge now is knowing what to leave out.