When I started this project, I envisioned a series of linked stories, each of which could stand alone, but which, in their totality, told a larger story. Think of Olive Kitteridge, or A Visit from the Goon Squad, or As the Great World Spins. All gorgeous, amazing books told in separate stories.
My decision for this approach was based on three things: 1) the yammerings of multiple characters demanding their time in the limelight; 2) my desire to write a *proper* short story (longer than a flash fiction but shorter than a novella); and 3) practicality--my writing program does not easily accommodate work-shopping an entire novel.
But what a struggle. Using the linked stories structure is goddamn hard. Trying to force big stories into small spaces. Knowing when to reveal information, and when to hide it. Understanding a character's motivation for heading into war without writing four pages of back story. Since I started this project, the container has worried me, bothered me, kept me up at night and, at times, paralyzed me from writing.
So after two workshops, and the insightful critiques of classmates and an awesome instructor, I have come to realize that shoving expansive stories into 7,000 word stories is not my style. THE MINISTER"S WIFE must be a novel, not linked stories. My characters have so much to tell me (and you), and their stories are expansive and fluid and span too much time to be relegated to a story. They twist and weave through each other, like tributaries.
So, as I revise this material, this is the structure I must find: something that allows multiple POVs to flex and bend with each other, to travel over time and over the page without arbitrary and jagged breaks. Maybe I will find a new form to tell my story; maybe the final product will look more traditional than I originally envisioned. I don't know.
But this I do know: I am excited to revise, and rewrite. The feeling of moving forward lightens me.
My fellow writers: what has been your biggest struggle in writing, and how have you overcome it?
Dear readers: have you read any novels with multiple points of view that might be helpful to me?