Tonight was another meeting of my critique group. At our last meeting I read the beginning of a novel I had written some time ago. I loved the character in the story and liked the way the chapter progressed, but I didn't know where to take it from there. We did a lot of brainstorming and it got my mind going. Even with two weeks to work on it, I approached tonight's meeting with nothing.
The plot is still in pieces in my head. I've finally figured out all the angles of the back story and almost want to write that instead, but the real story is something else. My notebook is being filled with ideas and jotted down snippets. I love the character and am starting to get the vision of how her adventure will play out, but there are still some missing elements I need to work on.
Since I needed something to read I pulled out a short story I had been revising. It is completely different than anything else I've ever read to them. Their reaction left me a little baffled. The piece is a short-short story I originally wrote for a contest. It's about a funeral and is a little dark and uncomfortable. After I finished reading, there was complete silence at the table for several minutes. Of course, I began thinking they all hated it so much they didn't know how to break it to me gently.
I think what really happened is the subject of death was approached in such a manner as to make them all think about funerals they had been to, loved ones they've lost and the emotions that accompany those events. Once they started critiquing it, they consensus seemed to be that the piece was well written. The purpose of the piece was to make readers feel the emotion and in that, I think it was successful.
That's what writing is supposed to do. Reader's need to get caught up in the story and feel the emotion of the characters. They need to care about what happens and be able to relate it somehow to an experience or emotion they understand.
I think that is the problem I'm having with the other novel I'm working on. I haven't found the driving feeling in the story -- that element that makes a reader want to read just one more page. Once I get that figured out, the writing will flow. I can't wait.