You must meet Duffy. She’s 13, entered the eighth grade, and has enough problems at home to make a long story (I hope). She’s the protagonist for a project I took on in July. An online challenge called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) offered a “Summer Camp” option, and I did write a novel in July. To succeed at NaNoWriMo, a writer is to complete a 50,000 word story in 30 days. To make it seem possible, I set a daily goal of 1700 words. That gave me a few extra in case I came up short one or two days.
Add to this mammoth number of words the fact that I had not and don’t write fiction. That in itself seemed reason enough to take the plunge. And it was. I liked being freed from the constraints of having to stick to the facts, do the requisite research that accompanies nonfiction, and find events that piled themselves into an interesting story. I just made them up instead.
So here comes Duffy. She is typical. She wants out from under the constraints of a family’s duties and expectations. She is certain she has the ability to call her own life, yet obediently stays within the limits. Her greatest nemisis is her 16-year-old sister, Mandy. They formerly were best friends, sharing play times and secrets with great harmony. They have grown away from each other, and Mandy complicates the family goings-on by getting pregnant while at a summer camp. Duffy is abhorred and watches the relationship with Mandy disintegrate before her eyes. They have nothing good to say about or to each other.
Duffy’s life is further complicated when she begins to receive anonymous notes in strange places. Some come in the mail, but one appears taped to her bicycle in an otherwise locked garage. Another shows up on her pillow and disappears before she can read it. They are nasty notes, not necessarily threatening, but enough to jar Duffy’s sense of security. She solicits the help of two friends to help identify the note writer. No luck.
And so on and so forth.
I’m taking this mess of words to two writers’ conferences in the next thirty days to determine its worth. Total joy would be an agent or an editor buying it on the spot. Lots of hard work would be coming home with suggestion upon suggestion for reworking the plot, the subplots, character development, and fashioning a logical ending. I’m expecting the latter. Actually, I'd like both outcomes. More later.