28 June 2013

A Coming of Age Story or Rediscovering a Lost Skill?

She's confused about how best to begin her middle-grade historical novel.

After  many drafts, she's perfected the plot and structure of her story and seamlessly incorporated a fascinating historical character and event into a contemporary story. Now, as we consider only the first quarter of her story, it becomes clear that the writer has not yet completely determined the depth of who her protagonist truly is.

She tells me the young male protagonist use to be brave and then lost his courage due to the backstory wound inflicted by the sudden death of his father. Yet, as she conveys her scenes to me, it becomes clear that there is confusion between whether he has always been small and scared versus having once been brave and then lost his courage.

As she decides which traits he embodies at the beginning of the story, she then must decide whether those traits will change and develop over the course of the entire story and lead to his ultimate transformation or whether old strengths that have been lost due to his backstory will be rediscovered along the way. This is a subtle yet pivotal difference that affects the tone and emotion of the entire story.