Insecure Writers Support Group; NaNoWrimo & Writing a Novel with an Unreliable Narrator:
Greetings fellow writers & IWSG members. Another month has flown by and it's time to share our insecure feelings and support one another. As always, I want to give a shout out and a great big thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, the vigorous creator of this rewarding group.
Today's co-host are: TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris & Eva E. Solar. So make sure you visit each one of the cosponsors as they have a busy day (and night) ahead of them and they go out of their way visiting each of our blogs. They not only visit our blogs, they read our posts and they pay attention to our content. These selfless co- host engage us in conversation and genuinely seem to care about our struggles and insecurities. Sure, they leave comments, but that's not the end of of what some of you might think of as their obligatory duty. I've noticed that if you reciprocate, the co- host continue visiting and before long you've made a new friend ... and that, my dear blogger buds, is what blogging is all about.
Yup ... that's what it's all about. Connections.
You put your left foot in ... you take your left foot out ... you put your left foot in and you shake it all about ... you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around ... That's what's it's all about!
We all want friends and connections so it stand to reason, we have to put in the time and effort. I'm the first to admit that I'm not the best blogger. That's why I never complain about lack of connections or lack of followers or comments, but it irks the crap out of me when I read posts from people who complain about their readership. It irks me even more when I notice the leeches who follow simply to up their number then quit following.
I love that word. Leeches. But I can't take credit for it. L Diane Wolfe nailed it though & I know some other bloggers including myself who've had our own share of bad experiences with Internet trolls and they are anything but cute little deformed creatures living under bridges. Many of them are lonely. Some are unstable. Others are just vindictive, but some can be dangerous.
I "borrowed," the term leeches from, L. Diane Wolfe, in an article where she blasts the Blog Leeches & Trolls, for following just to you to follow them, visit them, feature them, or list them in your sidebar. And then there are the trolls who comment just to harass you or get a rise out of you. Hail to Diane! But, that's not my
gripe, I mean insecurity or my topic of the day
I've Finally Decided to Participate in NaNo this Year
But what I'm most insecure about this:
I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a novel with an unreliable narrator. I know … either love the idea or your hate it. If done well it’s a mind-blowing literary device full of unpredictable plot twists. If not, the the story tanks.
After Gillian Flynn’s breakout novel and blockbuster movie Gone Girl, just about every fourth book jacket I come across compares their story to Gone Girl: If Your Liked Gone Girl, you will love …
On the Heels of Gone Girl we had another breakout novel, The Girl on the Train, and the book jacket hype ramped back up with a with a two book comp: Fans of Gone Girl & The Girl on Train will devour …
The unreliable narrator can be unreliable for a variety of reasons. A liar, such as Verbal Kint, in one of my all time favorite movies, The Usual Suspects; an alter ego, in Fight Club, or Multiple Personality Disorder as in the novel and film Psycho. Many critics claim that the main narrator in the novel, The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, wasn’t a true unreliable narrator, rather a simple drunk who couldn’t recall the events as they occurred when she got pissed (Brit for drunk).
The reason I keep referring back to The Girl on the Train is because this is the book that sparked the seed in me that continued growing and wouldn’t die. It eventually won me over and now I’m hell bent on writing a story with an unreliable narrator. For those of you who read the novel, you may remember it being told from the POV of three women. Rachel, Megan & Anna. Rachel is the drunk, Megan is the missing girl and Anna is the woman now married to Rachel’s ex husband. Most of the story is told from Rachel’s POV, until the third act. In the third act or part four (if you follow Larry Brooks' story telling structure) the three alternating POV'S continue, but more of the story is told from Anna's present POV and it continues alternating from Megan's past POV right up unit the moment she was killed which eventually catches up with the other two female POV characters. Rachel’s story is told out of order and begins before she disappears and ends when she is killed. The author uses a fascinating storytelling method of alternating POVS and alternates between past and present.
Throughout the story, I didn’t really root for Rachel as the protagonist and I suppose she was she was the protagonist as she was the character who changed the most, but I did grow to like her more as she attempted to change her life. She gave up drinking, made her life better and in the end, she made an ultimate sacrifice, even saving the woman who ruined her life. I didn’t feel one way or the other about Anna. I didn’t really like or or dislike her. If I had to choose. I guess I leaned more toward disliking her, just because she she didn’t appear to have an ounce of sympathy for Rachel and she didn’t seem to care at all about the poor girl gone missing, other than how poorly it reflected on her as a mother. She and her husband had used the girl as a babysitter in the past. Anna just rubbed me the wrong way, but there wasn't anything specific I could pinpoint. Megan was missing from the beginning so it would be wrong to form an opinion one way or the other about her. We knew she was cheating on her husband, but it's not my place to judge. She was a young woman and regardless of her fidelity, no one deserves to die. I'm not going to go into the male characters in this post. In a review I certainly would. Of course I would. I would have to. I'm touching on the females simply to give you the reason I feel compelled to tackle an unreliable narrator.
Very close to the ending, however, something that Anna said, struck me as extremely disturbing. She let on about creating a fake Facebook page in her husband’s name for the sole purpose of posting family photos and comments so it would appear her husband made the comments. She knew his ex-wife would read the comments. She hoped the fake comment would hurt her husband's ex-wife so badly they would drive her to drink and injure herself. Anna didn't stop there You see, Rachel was a really bad drunk. Anna truly hoped when Rachel read the comments and believed that Scott wrote them (he didn't - Anna wrote them, pretending to be Scott) Anna hoped Rachel would get so drunk she would injure herself and that would ensure she would no longer be a part of Scott's life.
I had to re-read that passage. Up until that point, I had no idea the suburban housewife and mom had a devious streak. Vindictive. Jealous. But Why? She had nothing to be jealous of. As the book continues we learn just how devious Anna is. She isn’t the killer or anything, but ever since I read that book, my mind has been playing the “What if,” game, every writer plays, and I’ve conjured up all kinds up wicked and mentally unstable characters.
What kind of person would do that? What kind of person would deliberately create a fake Facebook page and pretend to be her husband and write messages that purport to be from him for the sole purpose of hurting another person with the hope of causing the other person serious bodily harm? What happened to that person to cause them to become the way they are today? What is their problem? What is their fatal flaw? What is their secret? What is their wound?
If the past is to blame for who we are today, what happened in this character’s past? I’m going to spend the rest of this month digging deep into my character study so I can get a jump start in November.
What do the rest of you do to really get to know your characters, warts, wounds, flaws, secrets, lies, traumas and all? Have you ever studied your villains as deeply as you’ve studied your protagonists? This is weird, because when writing a story with an unreliable narrator it feels like my MC is a villain. Is she? Can I make her redeemable? Or do I want to? Would that ruin the story?
How do we unearth from our character’s past, her emotional trauma? Where do I dig to find her wound? If she’ll do anything within her power to avoid suffering it again and keep it hidden, where do I begin? Where is the lie buried? This should be a fun month?
Is she mental unstable?
Or just evil?
Cruel? Or does she suffer from a personality disorder? Was she abandoned by someone as a child? Betrayed? Hurt? Bullied? The ugly duckling? I think I will start with Angela & Becca over @ Writers Helping Writers
Elizabeth Spann Craig will be by my go to girl for advice and tips. I just discovered this article on her blog. She explains why some people don't like unreliable narrators and what kind of unreliable narrators make us feel cheated. 150 Thoughts on Unreliable Narrators.
What do you think of unreliable narrators?
Call me a sucker ... but I loved this book and the movie, and yes, I even liked the ending. I saw no other possible way it could end.
Feeling insecure about anything this month?
Have you visited the other writers?