Re-writing the novel: lightbulb moment

In a previous post (Reproducing macro events in micro terms) I wrote about my novel, A Relative Invasion. I wanted to convey that, although a child is the protagonist and the problem (rivalry) occurs in childhood, there is a parallel between the emotions here and those on a huge scale. This post is about another aspect of the novel – a technical problem for which I may now have a way forward


Writers will know how you can come back and back to a novel until finally the problem becomes clear. Sometimes a solution to a problem unexpectedly clicks into place. In this particular case, I didn’t even know I was looking for a solution. I only knew I was seeking further improvement to the structure. After several rewritings and countless reworking, I am still dissatisfied. It’s no bad thing to recognise that something is not quite right and to persevere.

A few agents have rejected this book because it is written in the child’s voice. I could change this, but after thinking of alternatives, I have remained committed to it. It is very difficult to capture the thinking of a child as he grows from the age of five years to adulthood, getting the internal language and the mental focus right through middle childhood, teenage to young adulthood, especially when the third person is chosen as the means of telling the story. You are in the child’s mindset with the child’s focus. I do recognise that some readers wonder who the target reader is. Is it a child’s book? The pace suggests otherwise and there are constant implications about adult behaviour seen through the child’s eyes. Can it be for adults when chapter after chapter shows the experience of a child? (Does his world matter enough? Does his viewpoint count?)

In carrying out research involving human behaviour, it seemed to me healthy to make the initial approach with a child’s mind, open to possible questions, let alone answers. Therefore, I am sticking with a novel that has a child as a protagonist and a child who shows the reader a world from his perspective. The reader is adult, s/he can form different opinions/further understanding to the child’s fragmentary view.

However, something in the novel isn’t quite right. There is some basic lever or pin-hole missing.  I need a device for letting the reader look down (from adulthood) at least briefly but in a systematic form, as well as up (from childhood) throughout the plotline.

Have any of you experienced that lightbulb moment? Do comment below.

I ‘finished’ the novel three years ago. It has been undergoing rewritings ever since. But last week, in walking from one room to another, a propos of nothing it seemed, the device came to me. I could head each chapter with the news heading for that date. This will put the ‘adult concerns’ in the mind of the reader as s/he reads about the child’s. Now I have to get down to another rewrite that utilises this. When I have finished, I will report back. I may be gone some time . . .

Meantime, the marketing of a very different book, my collection of ironic short stories, is dominating time that should be spent in writing and reviewing. When I feel frustrated I remind myself that each activity refreshes the writing process in different ways. More of these in a later post.

Tea-breaks for mature women and curious men


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