As I have noted in a few other posts lately, I’ve finally gotten my motivation back to finish the novel I’ve been working on for eight years now.
Yeah, eight years. No kidding. Seriously. Since 2005. My very first files on this book date back to a basic plot outline I put together on an airplane in 2005. My first rough attempts to create the opening scenes of the book were written a few days later. A few days after that I created the basic character portraits of the main characters. Eight years ago. Wow.
Up to this point I have been focused entirely on creating a cohesive, comprehensible and compelling story with interesting and believable characters. Of course I don’t know how well I’ve done that, but I’ve done the best I can, and as I read through the book myself, it feels pretty natural and seems to hold together well. If I make the final change I discussed in my previous post, then technically I can call the story finished.
But there’s something that I really, really want to do. And that is to not merely create a believable, cohesive and compelling story, but to create a story that provides the reader with truly memorable moments that they will savor and perhaps even come to identify with the story.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about. I suspect that most of my readers will immediately recognize every single one of these moments and it will evoke mostly positive memories of the stories they came from:
“You cannot pass!”
“Please sir, I want some more.”
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”
“Big Brother is watching you.”
“It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done…”
“Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?”
I’m not sure how to do this though. I know what I WANT to do, I want to have the story build up to a crescendo of tension and conflict, then capture that tension and conflict in either a memorable statement from a character, or else some equally memorable descriptive text. I want that moment to be seared into the reader’s mind such that if they repeat that quotation or descriptive item, anyone who has read the book will immediately be drawn back to that moment and relive it in their mind.
I really don’t know if other authors deliberately attempt that, or if it “just happens.” I am worried that trying to MAKE it happen might actually be counter-productive, sort of like trying to make a date successful with just the right line, and then sounding like a total ass.
Still, that’s what I want. I want there to be at least half a dozen moments in this book that are so compelling and have been so firmly embedded in the minds of the reader, that twenty years after reading the book, one sentence will pull them back to a moment that had enthralled them.