The Mirage of Innocence, Development 1

[FYI this is very rambly, as will most of these posts. {side note to the FYI: I am aware rambly is not actually a word.}]

So, as I noted on the About page, all of this exploration into story-telling is an attempt to understand what it means to tell a story. I am a writer and I am working currently on my first big fiction piece, working title The Mirage of Innocence. I’ll give a little background on what Mirage is about next. What I’m hoping to accomplish with this blog is (methodically) how reading can inform writing. How are these storytellers telling their story? What devices do they use? How are these characters going through different things and making decisions at each turning point that raises the stakes, truly? These are all things I need in my novel and I’m hoping this exploration gets me close to an answer—this is the “Book of One’s Own” from the title. Plus, you know what they say: the best writers are the greatest readers.

So, about Mirage:

The Mirage of Innocence is a coming-of-age novel/novella (I haven’t decided yet) about how a little girl named Lilly goes from a beautiful bloom to “a flower with no petals.” Through journal entries from her first 18 years of life and then, at nineteen, her lamentations on the melancholia she feels, we hear her story.

[I know this is vague, but the specifics don’t matter as much for this post.]

This post is about the first development coming out of this process: a frame narrative. For a long time, I have worried about telling Lilly’s story because I worried a lot of my story was getting lost. (This novel is an attempt to tell the story of my childhood through the eyes of a girl who lives in Italy—first problem, I did not grow up in Italy). My worries have been about how I can take something that happened to me and then sort of translate that into Lilly’s life. So, really, the metaphorical storytelling in Lilly’s story is my attempt at distancing myself from writing a memoir. But my problem up to this point with doing this is that Lilly is not me. Some of the things she goes through are not things I have gone through. So my worry, of course, is How do I accurately portray this without sounding cheesy, or inauthentic? This is, of course, a very writerly insecurity. Nonetheless, I think I’ve found a way to fix both of these problems (I see it as two: the inauthenticity of Lilly’s story and the not telling my story).

With a frame narrative, I’ve decided to create a character who is writing Lilly’s story. This author-character is more so me and is dealing with the insecurities that I am dealing with now. He is not me, of course, because I don’t want this to become a memoir about me writing a book. But in creating him, I can be more me than a little girl growing up in Europe (something VERY not me).

This frame narrative also gives me a chance to solve some other problems I was worried about writing this novel, like structure. The structure of the novel before was Part A: journal entries age 6-19, Part B: lamentations at age 19. The problem with this is that there really is no conflict until we get to Part B with the lamentations. And without conflict right from the beginning, no one is going to read a thing. I thought about inter-weaving Part A and B to see if the conflict could appear sooner, but I fear this may make the storytelling more clunky. So, with the frame narrative, I can follow the author‘s conflict, not just Lilly’s.

I’m still interested to see how this is going to manifest itself in the novel once I get back to writing, but I wanted to share this development because it is, indeed crucial. I’ll share my findings as the develop.

– Preston