You all know the feeling of anxiety when a family member asks what you have been doing. You don’t want to lie, but what about all those probing questions? You surface with the answer of, “I’ve been relaxing mostly, working on my novel and swimming at the neighbourhood pool.”
It takes a moment for your aunt to absorb the information and then they open their mouth for the next question. “So, you’re writing a novel. What is it about?”
That is where you choke. Your face flushes as you search for the right words. That is where I come in.
First, start with thinking about what your novel is about. But you’re going to want to sum up or your aunt’s hotdog will be cold.
Who is your protagonist? Antagonist? What is the basic plot? Build off of that.
Protagonist: a gypsy named Anna
Antagonist: a woman named Cassandra
Plot: Anna’s parents ran away and left Anna with only a locked trunk. Cassandra wants what is inside the trunk, but when she nicely asks Anna, Anna doesn’t know what she is talking about.
There is what you need to say to your aunt who is glancing over to dwindling stock of root beer.
“Well, my story is about a gypsy named Anna. Her parents ran away and left with one thing; a locked trunk. She doesn’t know what is inside and she doesn’t own the key to open it. Then this evil lady named Cassandra comes along looking for something from her parents. She asks Anna if Anna knows where it is, and Anna says she doesn’t which is true.” You say with a smile on your face and a shocked look on your aunts face.
She reaches back to set her hotdog on the table then picks up the last root beer. You think the questions are over and start to head over to the swimming pool. But she stops you and fires another shot.
“So, are you hoping to get it published?” She inquires, taking a sip from the can. She waits patiently as you think it through.
It would be cool to be published, but that could arise more questions. You stick with, “Well, I might but I don’t really have any plans.” That might seal her curiosity, for now.
Now you think you can finally slip away. You’ll just have to elude her for the rest of the night. But no, your judgement skills could use some polishing. She opens her mouth for even more questions. You anxiously glance to the pool where your cousins have started a game of Marco Polo, the one game you’d hate to miss out on.
“How far are you on your novel?” That is one of the most dreaded questions. Besides, “Can I read it when you’re done?”
Slapping a fake smile that more says “I’m annoyed” then “thanks for asking”, you answer. This is how you sum it up instead of explaining Character Arcs, drafts, and Macro edits.
“I’m finished draft two of my novel and am currently working on my Macro edit. A macro edit is when you change everything that sucks. Which is mostly everything in my novel, but hey, this is my first ‘official’ story I’ve written. Now can I go join Kailee and Jayden in the pool before the mosquitos eat me alive?”
And then you pat her on the shoulder as she pausing, mid-sip of her drink. It drips down her petal pink blouse as you dive into the pool, confusing the ‘it’ person.
And that my friend, is my sort-of advice for family events. It’s more of a story for you to enjoy. Make sure to share it with all the people that ask you about your novel.