Monday, October 20, 2008

My Next Story

I finally have an idea for my NaNo novel, and I love it! I want to start now! I've been getting more and more frustrated with myself that I couldn't come up with a decent idea. I keep reading my writing friends' blogs and they talk about how the ideas just overflow, how they have notebooks full of ideas and they can't decide which to concentrate on. Me? I don't have that problem.

[eta: as soon as I posted this I read my cousin Jenna's blog and she talks about her many ideas. I'm so jealous!]

Since I started writing in the summer of '07 I've had a total of three ideas for books, two of which I wrote. The third is an idea based on what could have been my life if we never moved here, Ibis stayed illegal, and was one day deported, but I don't want to be that writer. The one who has one topic and keeps rehashing it over and over. What intrigued me about it was the idea of a family who on the surface appeared just like everyone else, but had a little secret. When that secret emerges, the community turns on them, and they are forced to not only deal with the trauma of the husband/father being deported but also being alienated from their friends. Everything about their lives has changed.

But I don't want to write that story.

Yesterday I forced myself to sit down with a book called Telling True Stories. It's a collaborative piece with 2-3 page articles advising writers how to do everything from interview subjects, to turning your notes into stories, to writing a narrative non-fiction book. The writers use a lot of specific examples so with each one, I wrote down a short paragraph of whatever popped into my head. Once I got my brain going, the ideas came a little faster. I had two pages of notes when I suddenly remembered a news piece I read a couple weeks ago. Here's an excerpt:

A man who woke to the screams of his daughter found a naked intruder in his home. He subdued the intruder after a prolonged struggle, while his wife called police. When the police arrived and the father released the invader, he was unresponsive.

The intruder, wearing only a mask and latex gloves, carried rope, a knife, condoms, and a gag into the house with him. When the mask was pulled off, both the father and the daughter recognized the man immediately.

The home is owned by the invader's uncle and he was an acquaintance of the family he victimized. The case will be sent to the county prosecutor's office but it is unlikely that charges will be filed.


That story stuck with me since I first read it, and I realized I could take it one step further - what if it wasn't just an acquaintance, but a close friend of the family and next door neighbor? Think of the ramifications of one man killing another in defense of his daughter, and how that affects both families. Also, this story has all the social alienation I was drawn to with my deportation story.

So, this is it. I'm very excited and can't wait to get started. I have under forty pages left to edit on my novel, then I can get working!

20 comments:

Turkey Lurkey said...

Some of the best story ideas come from the news. I believe King wrote about that in "On Writing." It sounds very compelling. Good luck with Nano!

Pink Ink said...

Good luck with the last edits. And have fun with NaNo!

Janna Qualman said...

Melanie, your new idea is awesome. I love how you took a true blurb and ran with it.

And I want to point out, "they" always say "write what you know." If you find your niche, don't be afraid to stick with it. You could be the voice for many who deal with circumstances like you and Ibis. You know?

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey, I have heard that which is why once I remembered the story I thought, why not?

Thanks Pink!

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, you make an excellent point, one that I've heard and tell other people. But do you know what my gut does when I think of becoming that person, that voice? It sinks and I go "ugh." Then the toddler in me puts up a fight. I don't know why I resist that but maybe in the future I'll come back to it. Maybe it's because I'm still in the middle of it and don't want to think about it...

WendyCinNYC said...

I think it's great to try something new that intrigues you. Good luck with it!

spyscribbler said...

Melanie, wow! I love the idea you don't want to write. Honestly, it sounds fabulous. What a mess that would be in real life, but what a treasure trove of conflict for a novel!

I'm so conflicted, damnit. I'm trying to get an idea for a NY-able idea. Maybe I'm just obsessed with kink, LOL.

Jenna said...

Too funny Mel...well not the idea but our posts :).

The story sounds very Jodi Picoult.

Good Luck!!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Wendy!

Spy, I'm not scrapping that idea, I think I just need more distance from it. Ever since this whole immigration thing happened, people have said how hard it must be, etc. My response was always, yeah, but imagine how hard it would be with two kids and a house. As it was, we rented, didn't own much of anything and were both looking to change jobs. I am drawn to that what if, just not yet.

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna, I know. :) We're on the same wavelength today.

colbymarshall said...

That sounds really awesome- congrats on such a good idea and I can't wait to hear more about it. Good luck!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Colby. This will be the first time doing character sketches ahead of time. I also plan to do a bit of an outline - just something to guide me through the month. It's probably a good thing we can't start until November or I'd be tempted to start now. :)

Robin said...

Melanie, that sounds awesome!!!! If we're a group, or country, or whatever, does that mean we get to read each other's stuff as we do it? If so...woo hoo!

I'm looking forward to the NaNo thing, but dreading it a bit, too. It's sort of how I felt when I almost upgraded my cell phone to a Blackberry today. I thought, "It sounds fun, but what a pain in the ass to figure it out!"

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I'm not really sure how that works, but I'm sure we can share. :) Have you already signed up? I tried to find you on the nano site but no luck.

So does that mean you did NOT get the Blackberry?

Robin said...

Too lazy to get the Blackberry, but I might go this weekend. I haven't completely decided.

I signed up under my own name. Oops. I wonder if I screwed it up. I'm going to check....

Melanie Avila said...

Robin - I found you & beat you to it!

Robin said...

Melanie, can you say your NaNo username? Or e mail it (close your eyes stalkers and psychokillers) to drshoechick@aol.com? If I visit you, you become my buddy. It's almost a Chinese philosophy thing.

bookdragonette said...

That sounds like an interesting idea. I say go for it, and see where it takes you.

aaroncrocco said...

This book sounds interesting! I think you'll have a sucessful nano!

Lauren said...

That is such a neat idea. Good luck with writing it!