A SCENE WITH NO HOME

My WIP is a novel with the main narrative, in the voice of a ten year old girl Janet, set in the 1950s. To begin with, I used only one other narrative voice, of Janet’s uncle. Ted took the reader back to his WWII experiences, essential to understand his current state of mind and his resentment of his elder brother, Rex. Ted’s war chapters were in a section of their own, to be read sequentially. All my work has been read by my mentor, marked up and corrections made. Now the mentor and I agree, that to fully understand Janet’s mother, Sylvia, the reader needs to learn about her home background, including her mother, Constance and her brother Alec. In other words, all the Sylvia sections, set aside months ago, need to be resurrected and inserted into the structure of the novel. I’ve been doing just that and have reached the end of Part 1, the 1950s story plus references to Sylvia’s war where they can be slipped in as long as I write a suitable link.

My mind is now in a complete muddle. I turn pages of printed material over and back again, in a vain attempt to ‘see’ these Sylvia stories either as straight flashbacks or a conversations between Sylvia and Janet. Mostly they work but in one place something is wrong, the Sylvia narrative does not run smoothly. I come to the conclusion that the only way forward is to select those ‘Sylvia scenes’ and copy and paste them into a new document called ‘Sylvia’s Story’. Which I have done and read through. Until I reach the place where the smoothness of that narrative stream is disrupted. Up to this certain point, all the Sylvia scenes have been dated, taking the story from April 1940 to April 1942. But suddenly, in the middle of these sections there’s a flash back to 1947. But the reader hasn’t got to 1947. They’re still in the middle of a war. Imagining an un-used Nissen hut in England at this point doesn’t work. It throws the reader out. The scene fitted in earlier – but did it, or was I kidding myself, for it certainly doesn’t work if all the Sylvia narrative scenes are read one after the other, standing on their own. This 1947 scene will have to be taken out now until the reader – and Sylvia – is in 1947.

I now have a dramatic and emotional scene with a pregnant Sylvia standing shivering in an empty nissan hut, build on a dis-used small airport, knowing this is the only home she is to be offered.

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