So I'm going to start with the initial question - or in this case, the statement: "In Lisa Cron's Story Genius; How To Use Brain Science To Go Beyond Outlining And Write A Riveting Story, one of Ms Cron's points is, "What is your point? What do I want my readers to go away thinking about?"
Immediately I thought back to one of my favourite professors, my first year Arts One professor (who is credited in the Wall of Thanks for pushing me to do better in academic writing, a series of lessons that took the full 4 years to finally sink in!). I came out of AP English with no bloody clue what a thesis statement actually was. I mean, I wasn't the only one in my first year seminar who sat their shocked that our once A-grade work was barely C-worthy, but still, devastating to the ol' ego. This was lesson #1. Find your thesis. Luckily, after marking a number of my papers (we had to do a novel weekly with an essay to follow), my professor was able to notice a trend. I did write with a thesis, and it was hidden somewhere in the conclusion, clearly I figured out what my point was after I had a chance to write out all of my ideas. So in order to complete Lesson 1, I had to so a sub series of steps. The first one being, find the thesis in my concluding paragraph, drag it to the top of the page, and start the whole paper over again. I had to do draft as many as 18 times before I had direction. Most of that was just the discovery of what the thesis actually was. I had to do that whole process (including all of the other steps and lessons for all of the other problems I had) for another 3 years before I was finally running well on my own. I still don't hand-in first drafts (because I'm not crazy - and by that I mean that I am crazy enough to care if I get 95% or 86%, and gods, the old and the new, help me should I get a B!!!), but I can put a thesis in my opening paragraph first try now because I know what the damn thing looks like now!
Yes, there is a point to this story! Just listen! So, my advice was to follow what my professor said. That is, if one is so inclined to answer the question: What is your point? Then your job as a novelist/storyteller/writer of any kind should be digging that out. Whether you know what it is off the bat, or if you have to write out all of the scenes from start to finish, put that statement front and centre, and then go back through your story and see if each chapter works towards it. Now, as any essay writer should know, each chapter, just like each essay paragraph, does not (and should not) just have the statement on repeat. But if your work is starting to make a different idea more important than the one you're focusing on, then something is amiss. Either you missed what it is that your story actually wants to be about, or you've got a lot of re-writing ahead of you.
So what about me? I'm not going to claim that I write novels as quickly (or as well) as I can write an academic paper. But I'm also not a fan of answering "What is your point?" because it feels like I should be making a statement. And I don't believe that I set out to do that with my fiction. They might inadvertently make a statement, but that's not how I'm driven. So I'm going to scratch that one out and move on to the second clause: "What do I want my readers to go away thinking about?" Now this one feels better to me, and it's one that I really do have to sit and think about after I've written my first draft. Why? Because the statement I need to answer is "What does my story want its readers to go away thinking about?" For me, it's all about feeling. My stories all being with a spark of emotion, then I have to discover the characters who created it, and then listen to the story that they want to tell. I don't know the direction it's going in until it's all out because it's not my story.
In Galen, all of the characters have to make a choice between the image of who they are, and the versions of themselves that make them happy. The readers should come out of the book with a sense of release from the burden of all the reasons these characters have to be who they are.
In Freakhouse, the reader should feel ripped apart. There is no going back. There is no making things right.
And in the next title to be released in 2017, the reader should feel that only one thing matters - the one you love.
And I think that I will have to take my own advice as I continue to revise the mess that is Knightsbridge. The next time I open that file and read it, I will have to decide how we are supposed to feel on this journey - you know, aside from frustrated like the author that this journey has taken over 10 freakin' years!!! I want to feel accomplished, but what the story wants from you? I may just have to ask it one more time.
So that's it. That's all I've got for now. Maybe I've been helpful, or maybe I just enjoy the sound of the voice inside my head who recites my writing back to me. I'm not even sure if it gets recited back in my own voice, but I do know that it no longer is the voice of Patrick Morgan. I swear, you listen to one audiobook and then he narrates your whole life for months! But seriously, I totally missed him when the audiobook was over. It took many a tries to get through Plato's Republic, and I wouldn't have done it without Mr. Morgan's help. Laundry day was so lonely afterwards... all alone. No voice to keep me company...
...Oh, there we go! Tangent! I consider this post officially Ashleyfied!
Happy writing! Happy reading! Happy tangents!