It’s funny how one little sentence, even in a massive piece, can so totally change the scope of things. When I was writing Chapter 2 of this behemoth novel I’m putting together, I wrote this throwaway line about a pain in Veronica’s side. I was just trying to add a little detail. She was stressed out. I wanted that to be shown instead of told. When I got my feedback back from my advisor, he had a number of comments about making sure that every seemingly insignificant choice Veronica makes in the chapter makes a difference. He commented on the pain in her side. Was she, he wondered, ovulating?
Later in the chapter, she has sex with Tim for the first time. She’s given up on pursuing her sexual truth for the moment and decided to just go the standard route. This, it seemed to my advisor, had to have consequences. One of the consequences he suggested, recalling that throwaway line, was that maybe she would get pregnant.
This was a revelation for me. “My God,” I thought. “He’s right.” How would the story of A Lick and a Promise change if Veronica and Tim were parents? And young parents at that? How much more pressure would that put on Veronica to stick with Tim even though she was longing for the girlfriend she had secretly? This, I was sure, was going to be great.
Today I was able to reap the benefits of making the decision to give Veronica a baby. There were scenes in Lick that, when put into this novel, with the baby looming overhead along with all the other stuff, became ten times more powerful. Everything was that much more high-stakes.
If I remember one thing that David and Scott said to me while I was working on my senior project back in the day, it was that I needed to make the whole thing matter a lot more to the characters. They had to have more at stake in every scene. Some of the subtlest stuff I’ve done in this novel has and will completely change the stories that I told before about Veronica and Michael Silver.
I’m having more fun writing now than I’ve had in years.