Guest Post by Jenn J McLeod – When A Book Is A Balancing Act
When A Book Is A Balancing Act – Guest post by Jenn J McLeod
While I’ve written three novels with three different structures, it’s taken me book number four to attempt a dual time period piece that spreads the storytelling load over two winters—1979 and 2015. I could have told the same story by adding lots of flashbacks to the primary year, but too much back and forth can frustrate readers. Then, as if writing a dual time period was not challenging enough, I also created multiple point-of-view (POV) characters in both time periods.
With all this going on in the background an author can inadvertently focus on one time period more than the other. This can lead to dragging readers kicking and screaming through a secondary story strand that fails to engage them. I learned the hard way that the act of writing a dual time period is, in fact, a balancing act. In essence, I’m presenting two stories and asking for them to be read simultaneously, both with vague (often invisible) connective concepts in the early stages. Not until much later in the book do the connections become clear and the clues I’ve sprinkled start to make sense. In order to stop the reader throwing the book at the wall in frustration, I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote to ensure both stories were equally as compelling. (Having an amazing editor and a wise reader helped.)
Whenever an author presents what are essentially two stories, there is potential for the reader to have a favourite time period and, therefore, resent being pulled away to the other side of the story. To overcome this, I created plenty of characters for readers to love (or love to hate).
Eventually, the two story strands (and their characters) collide and the truth about what happened in 1979 in Watercolour Cove is revealed, but keeping control of those revelations, and ensuring both stories are equally as compelling throughout, was the biggest balancing act of all. There were moments when I cursed myself for attempting such a complex plot (not to mention the cast of characters), but I am equally as excited and can’t wait to hear what readers have to say.
Note: There is a tissue warning with this book, but I promise, as always, I’ve balanced those moments out with a few laughs.
Book information and BUY links – www.jennjmcleod.com/book-room
Thanks Jenn! Look out for my review of The Other Side Of The Season, coming tomorrow!