BY NANCY KAY CLARK
Nancy is CL’s editor & publisher. Copyright is held by the author.
RECENTLY, I’VE attended some online writing workshops where the instructors asked some hard, but important questions.
In a session jointly organized by the Humber College School for Writers and the Toronto International Festival of Authors, entitled “Plotting, Planning and Organizing a Novel-length Project Substructure”, novelist Omar El Akkad stated, that considering how long it takes to write a novel and the astronomical amount of competition for readers’ attention, before he embarks on a project, he tries to make sure its worth the effort by asking himself:
1. Why am I writing this story?
2. When in the future will will this work become irrelevant (i.e., what is the longest living component of my story)?
3. And, if it is a worthwhile and universal story that must be told, why is it my story to write?
At CANSCAIP’s recent PYI Conference, in a session entitled “Unearthing your Story’s Theme”, kid-lit author and editor, Shelley Tanaka urged attendees to ask themselves:
1. What is my story trying to say?
2. What is the feeling I want my readers to end up with?
3. What is relevant to my readers?
4. What attracts me to the story in the first place?
And though she urged attendees to ask and answer those questions, she reminded us that there’s one question that shouldn’t be answered by the writer — that’s the big question a story poses to its readers, which could have multiple answers or no answer at all. It’s in that big question that the theme of your story resides.
Alyson Faye’s new publication The Lost Girl & Spindleshanks, a stand-alone e-book of two of her short stories, coming out on November 27 from Demain Press. You can pre-order it here.