Outlining Soal: First Words

It was dark, but I still pulled into a parking lot to think. I had just returned from a writers’ group, our second meeting. I had pulled this writers’ group together in a fit of inspiration following my first writers’ conference. I was eager to share my ideas, and to work in a tight-knit group that could confirm where I was flawed–and where I was going.

But I had still been shaken when, on the first meeting, my outline for Soal had not stood up to inspection. “The motivations are a bit hazy here.” “Why is she doing this?” “Um . . . when does the action start?” I hope I am not the only writer that finds those moments absolutely terrifying. It is like the little imp in the back of your head–the one that throws banana peels at your screen and laughs shrilly every time you stumble on a word–was having a feast thrown in its honor. It was delighted. And I was drenched in banana slime.

My fellow writers had shown me my flaws. But, due to the marvelous writers in my group, they had also given me tools. I went home, wiped banana peel off my screen, and started again. It was strange at first. I felt like the conductor of an orchestra who had just been shown five unknown instruments hiding in the wings, wondering when they would be allowed to play. But I began to experiment. And then, it all began to come together.

At our second meeting, I presented the new outline. I was surprised by my confidence, considering the outcome of the previous meeting. But as character, action, and plot wound together, I had found the previously unknown viola solo. And it had moved me. I was excited about this piece more than I had been about any other. Because I could see it.

My fellow writers confirmed my direction, and the little imp sat unusually quiet in the back of my mind as I sat in the dark of the parking lot. The feedback had not only been positive, it had been glowing. It had shown me that the visions I saw in my head could actually be seen by others.

And in turn, that meant that the parts of me that have often felt misunderstood, swept away, or even silenced . . . could come forward, speak–and be heard. My story could come alive.

I cannot wait to share with you the story of Soal, the girl who learned to live outside her sister’s memories.

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