Episode Title: Coming to grips with the plot
It’s good to be back with you again! Since I last blogged, I must admit that my new short story was waylaid by something even more pressing. That was the update to my third novel, MOLTO GRANDE. You may recall that I had planned to break that story into parts due to its size (261,000 words, roughly the size of three full-length novels). Upon reflection, however, I decided, with input from my wife and chief editor, that I would leave it as a single novel. Yes, I suppose I could have marketed all three planned segments, but from the reader’s perspective, I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for another purchase or two beyond the first, all just to read one continuous story, albeit a very large one. I did put the time to good use, however. Having pulled the novel from the market while considering its breakup, I went back through the entire manuscript and made what I thought were worthwhile modifications. I had often heard that it is wise to leave a finished manuscript to marinate for a number of months before publishing, and I now see why. It was as if I was reading it for the first time, and it was helpful.
Back to matters at hand. I have now given the name Elizabeth DeWilde, Lizzie for short, to my main character. She’s a twelve year old girl whose life has just taken a difficult and unexpected turn. This has caused her and her just widowed mother to move into a humbler and very different living accommodation in a trailer park. She is starting her new school a few weeks after class is back in session. This will make it difficult to find friends who haven’t already been taken. It is 1958 Bakersfield, California, which at that time is a modest-size town of fifty-thousand. I just think a smaller town is the best setting for what is to come.
In the 1950s, sixth grade girls like Lizzie commonly play hopscotch, jacks, skiprope, or on the monkey bars during recesses and lunchtime, and boys play ball, tag, or a game that was ubiquitous at the time. Without divulging its name for now, let me just tell you that Lizzie is in complete awe of the game. But when she realizes that the game is off limits to the girls, it raises one of the story’s early conflicts. Angry over the discrimination, she intends to play the game on her own, and begins to practice after school, using less than desirable game pieces. I’ll just say that the development of her skill in this “manly” sport will soon change the story’s trajectory. There’s also a friend on the horizon, a new girl who will soon be attending class with her at Jefferson Elementary.
So what story decisions have been made thus far: The name Lizzie, which I have selected because it is cute for the time, but also because it will work well in the short story’s title. The game, although unnamed for you at this point, will play an important role. The setting is Bakersfield, California. The year is 1958. And there’s a general societal attitude that girls are expected to be girls, that is, play only at a prescribed number of female activities—this will generate good story conflict.
Looking ahead, once I finalize MOLTO GRANDE’S advertising with Amazon’s KDP and Kobe, I’ll be concentrating much more on the short story. I’m looking forward to sharing my future progress with you. Keep writing!
All the best,
Dick is author of novels Joshua Rye, Serpent at the Well, and MOLTO GRANDE. Please go to my author’s page at: amazon.com/author/dickfranklin