November is over and once again I have not participated in National Novel Writing Month. In fact, my writing rate for November was abominable. My bum-on-seat and fingers-on-key stats are a disgrace. Oh, I guess I’ve done a few writing and reviewing jobs… but in terms of fiction, I’ve only a handful of pages to show for the month.
It’s easy to get into a funk about writing. Not writing enough. Not sending out enough. Receiving rejections. Not even receiving rejections… just a great big silence. Lacking inspiration. Lacking motivation. Lacking confidence. Ugh. Why do we bother?
Of course I don’t have the answer to any of those questions but I do have some writing inspiration for anyone looking to get started on a new project this December. It’s not Christmas themed I’m glad to say, Just an idea prompted by a book I read recently that might get someone’s creative juices going. Maybe even mine. So here goes.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a thoroughly enjoyable dual timeline historical novel which tells the story of two apparently very different women. In the 1915 a shy young woman with a speech impediment, Eve Gardiner, jumps at the opportunity to spy for the Allies in German occupied France. Thirty-two years later and Eve is a foul-mouthed angry drunk with deformed hands but when she meets Charlie St Clair, a young pregnant single American girl looking for a lost family member, the past becomes of vital importance.
When these two women first meet they have nothing in common. One is American, one British. One in her fifties, one in her twenties. One brave, one not. But it’s one of the joys of the novel that not only do they become immensely important to each other – they are also far more similar than they realize. They are both independent. They are in fact both brave. They both have a liking for Scottish men!
So here is the starting point. Dream up two characters that will meet in some unusual circumstance – stick them on a broken down train, sit them next to each other on a jury panel, make one the black sheep of the other’s partner’s family. You get the idea. Now position them as having nothing in common – age, background, work, problems, whatever springs to mind. But do give them something to connect over: a personality trait, or a desire, or belief that they both share.
Write the story of how they find out what they have in common.