I was the Table Topics Master at Toastmasters last night. Table Topics Master is my all-time favorite role because it means that for this one night, I’m “safe!” I don’t have to worry about the Table Topics Master asking a bizarre question and then calling on ME to answer it because I’m the one asking the bizarre questions! (The point of table topics is to practice speaking extemporaneously)…so I thought I’d see if I could get my fellow Toastmasters to help me figure out my story by putting them inside the heads of my characters. I had one guy get up and be the dad in my story…a woman be the mom in my story…and the youngest woman (not counting our guest) be the main character. Then I asked them various how-do-you-feel-about-this-situation and/or what-are-you-going-to-do-now questions. It was interesting to hear their responses but unfortunately, I didn’t get anything I could really use.
Which means I’m probably going to have to figure out this story on my own. (Which I guess I sort of already knew…but it was worth a try! Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that…)
“Don’t be afraid to let that dad be a bad man…” that’s what my editor says. That’s what I’m struggling with…I never really saw him as a bad person or a lousy dad (he was always just sort of “misunderstood”….he did what he did for a good reason…like the criminals in the Boxcar books…)…but as my editor points out, he really did do bad things in book 1. And by societal definition, he is NOT a good person…OR a good dad. I need to accept that…and so does my main character. That’s sort of what the story is about. Which is more than I realized three days ago, so maybe I’m making progress?
My other problem with this book is much as I’ve been trying to turn it into a plot driven story, it’s a CHARACTER DRIVEN story. And that scares me! Book 1 was absolutely plot driven rather than character driven. Just about everything I’ve ever written is more plot driven than character driven. But I need to let this be character driven. (Anybody know how to write a character driven novel???)