Stories within Stories

In A Year with the Baptists, there are stories within stories: there are multiple beginnings, multiple middles, and multiple endings within the overall beginning, middle, and end.

While I’m having no trouble writing any of it, because I know exactly what happens, I do think I’m going to have trouble during editing with narrative structure.  Right the book opens at what would traditionally be the start of the second act in a linear narrative, but circumstances force Emma to confront her past (which has a beginning, middle, and end of it’s own), so we leave the second act hanging (ish) and move to that.  After the past has been confronted and (because I’m the writer) analyzed, Emma decides to make a change and bam! – we’re back in the second act.  The story builds as Emma acts on her decision until something threatens to undo it all at the end of the second act.  The third act is really about fighting to stick with her decision, until a victory of sorts, denouement, and the end.  On top of all of this, Emma is a storyteller herself, and some of her stories are included.

Probably because I’m in the trenches of the rough draft, I feel like the story bumbles around a little (okay, a lot).  I know, I know, this is what editing is for, but … this is going to be a monster to edit.

I know it can be done, and done well.  I’ve read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, not that this is anything on their level. (It’s totally not, so I’m going to need you to put your expectations back in the basement again, okay? Okay).  Still, I admire and am intrigued by the narrative structures in both books, and I want my structure to appear just as effortless (even if it takes me months to nail it).

Well, I’m off to write.