Like many people, I am studiously outlining my novel for the start of NaNoWriMo in three days, however, I suspect that most people haven’t just had one of those stomach sinking moments that I’ve just had.
Do you know the one I mean? The one where you suddenly realise you’ve forgotten something crucial, like the bloke who forgot to add sugar to his cake mix on The Great British Bake Off? It’s not something you can ignore, it’s not something you can add afterwards. You’ve just ballsed it up. You know the type of fatal error I’m talking about? I’ve had one of those today.
I have plotted my novel (I’m a planner, not a pantster), I have done my character sketches, I know what happens at all my plot points and I know how it all resolves in the end. I know what my character arcs look like, I’m certain of my timeline, the weather and the clothes they will all be wearing. I was feeling quite smug about it all and ready for 1st November. As an exercise today, I thought I would write a summary of the story, a blurb for the back cover if you like to zero in on the purpose of the characters and the story.
I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t write even a single sentence answering the question ‘What is your story about?’. This was terrible, the more I thought about it, the more I was certain that my story was going to be pointless, sure, it’s definitely a story where characters interact and things happen but why? What are they doing it for? Why do we care?
I read back through my plan and my notes, the concept and the premise were weak, I can see that now. I need to add some conceptual layers to the whole thing or it’s going to be D.U.L.L.
I’m glad that I noticed this now, it’s made me rethink the secondary characters and I’ve decided that some of them will now have a more active role in the story and create maze-blocking conflict for the protagonist. The love interest will also turn out to be a complete arse.
Now, if somebody asks me ‘what is your book about?’, I can say:
It’s a story about a woman who, trapped in the monotony of caring for an elderly relative, running a business and servicing a stale relationship, fails to notice the systematic theft of everything that holds their lives together.
Her vision is further blinkered by the arrival of Nick Fenn whose presence awakens her dormant plans and questions the life she’s settled for.
As the scale of the theft becomes clear, the finger of suspicion falls on those she trusts the most, including Nick Fenn. Could he really do this to her? Will Abi’s loyalty silence her or will her sense of justice prevail?
It’s not perfect, I’m not even certain whether that is actually the question that I will be answering but what do you think? Does it have a strong enough purpose? Would you read it? After all, what’s the point of pouring 50,000 words out in a month if they are all for nothing?