Three questions while planning a novel

I came across an article by someone who was discussing how to change a short story – or maybe I should say develop a shirt story into a novel. I haven’t really ever done that; it is such a long time since I wrote short stories, and I never saw them as being anything other than a stand alone shorter piece. I have written short pieces, on the other hand, which may develop into something but which can  in a way serve as a short story!

This excellent article I read by, Mary Lynn Bracht  was a background to how she came to write her first novel, ‘White Chrysanthemum’ which will be published in January 2018. In the article, Bracht outlined three questions she asked herself while planning her novel-from-a-short-story; it’s made me think about my writing, and I asked myself the questions:

Question 1: How does the story end? I very rarely know how my stories are going to end – I sometimes have a scene I know will come at then end but I’m not always sure who will be involved in it or what will be the outcome. Quite early on while writing ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ I knew there would be two people fighting at the edge of a raging sea during a storm. They would both be swept into the sea but only one would emerge – and when the idea first came to me I didn’t know which one. This was supposed to be the climax of the story, and the actual conclusion would result from this fight.  In the event, two completely different people were engaged in the struggle and neither survived… did this mean there was no climax? Well, no, because the main character witnessed the scene, and what led up to it, and what happened after it was vital to the story.
This hasn’t actually answered the question so… for the two things I am writing at the moment – my latest Radwinter story – I have a couple of scenes in my mind which will complete certain story lines, but there are three other aspects which I don’t yet have an answer to and am wondering whether to eliminate one to save for a different story. In my NaNo story about the mystery woman, I think aspects of the mystery will be revealed, but the narrative isn’t sufficiently developed yet for me to have a clear view of where it’s going.

Question 2: What scenes/events must take place in order to reach the end? I have a variety of ideas when I am writing, but not all of the scenarios I have up my writing sleeve will be pulled out for these novels. So, in answer to the actual question – I don’t know. I don’t have a clear idea of the conclusion, and can only see a few steps in front of me, so to repeat, I have no idea.

Question 3: Am I telling the story from the right character’s perspective? In my Radwinter novel there can only be one perspective since it is a first person narrative; however, there are scenes which include someone else’s blog so I guess that is a different perspective. In my NaNo book, although much of the story is told from the point of view of the MW – the mystery woman, it is only her actions and some of her thoughts which are revealed; her past is concealed, and any thoughts she may have of what happened to bring her to the town are not revealed. However, she is beginning to do some writing herself, she is writing a sort of memoir, starting with her days at Uni, and it may be (I haven’t decided yet) her writing eventually reveals what happened to her (which I don’t yet know) which led her to living in a small anonymous bedsit in a place where she knows no-one and no-one knows her.
Because I have no proper plan for my stories, I can’t really answer whether it’s from the right perspective – as I said, in my Radwinter story, there is only the one point of view, that of Thomas Radwinter.

Here is a link to the article – it really is worth reading!

…and here are links to my novels I’ve mentioned:

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