Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
Today, Marie Coutu shares the fear writing can instill when we choose to do something different with our stories. Welcome, Marie!
Am I Good Enough to Write This Story?
I have a great idea for a novel. Or is it?
While trying to come up with an idea for a third novel in the historical series I’m working on, I thought of a possible plot. Then I envisioned a heroine who holds the key to resolving the hero’s troubles. She saw something, but she won’t say anything. Why not?
What if she is mute?
The idea seemed so good, I had to get up and write it down. (Some of my best ideas come when I’m in bed trying to fall asleep. Good for my writing, but not so good for my sleep patterns.)
Fast forward a day. The next night, as I lay awake, I realized how hard it might be to write a heroine who can’t talk. Especially in a romance. I mean, you can’t have juicy dialogue if one of your main characters doesn’t speak. So much for having your best parts of the story “between the quotes.”
Other writers have published successful novels with mute characters. Ginny Yttrup’s fabulous Words features a young girl who doesn’t talk. Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin includes a small boy who remains silent, and the other characters don’t know if he can’t or simply won’t speak. And apparently The Stand by Steven King has a mute character. (I don’t read horror, so I’m going on what I found online.)
Those authors, however, already excel at the craft and in sales. I have only three published novels and this would be only my sixth full-length book. (Actually, I just discovered Words was Yttrup’s debut novel. That’s reassuring.) But am I ready to tackle such a challenge, to include a handicapped character as my heroine?
Writing is all about improving our craft, expanding our horizons, stretching ourselves. If this were my first novel, I could make the attempt, then discard the whole idea if I found I couldn’t do it justice. But I need to include blurbs for three books in the proposal I’ll be pitching in a few weeks. My critique partner likes this idea, and the character is beginning to come to life in my head. (She’s not talking to me yet, though.)
Will I let fear reign, decide I’m not good enough as a writer yet, and search my files and my brain for a different idea? Or should I rise to the challenge and tackle this story, stretching my ability as a novelist? Dare I claim the same promise David made to his son Solomon: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or terrified. The Lord God, my God, will be with you” (1 Chronicles 28:20, GW)?
If I can pull it off with excellence, with God’s help the story could be one of my best books yet.
I’d love to hear what readers of this post think.
Marie Wells Coutu began making up stories soon after she learned to talk. At age seven, she convinced neighborhood kids to perform a play she had written. A native of Hopkinsville, she received BA and MA degrees from Murray State University where she majored in journalism and drama. After a career working in journalism and public relations, she returned to her first love—writing fiction—at the age of fifty-five.
Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the 2016 Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her newest novel, The Secret Heart, from Write Integrity Press is set in Tennessee and Kentucky. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.
Marie’s second book, Thirsting for More, which was a finalist in the 2016 Selah Awards, will be on sale for 99 cents April 15-21 (Kindle version). Check her website, MarieWellsCoutu.com, for more information.