I have a realistic fiction novel in process called Life of a Lily. This is about a seventeen year old girl named Matilda--aka Lily--who tried to commit suicide. I think my first chapter is one of the best writings I have done in my life. It delves into Lily’s mind, automatically depicting how calculating she is, as a human being. The chapter has such great voice in it, and while it is discussing a serious topic, teenage suicide, it is lighthearted, making the reader laugh. In this chapter, she is meeting her new psychiatrist for the first time, naming her Dr. America. It is mostly her inner monologue throughout the chapter, though, and I really love it.
Of course, as with every novel, I had to have background information. Why did she commit suicide? How is her family life? What kind of person if Lily and how did she arrive at this state of being? I had to be in Dr. America’s position in order to discover my own character. I knew Lily was too stong minded for her to commit suicide because of her being bullied or having self esteem issues. So instead I introduced the idea of her father dying, which then leads to her mother dying, leaving Lily an orphan. I always knew Lily’s father was dead, but her mother dying is a new idea. I tried to have her mother as a character, but she just felt...dead. One of the main reasons why Lily was depressed is because she felt alone in her grief, which meant that her mother was either neglecting her, or she was in her own grief-state, sort of like Katniss Everdeen’s mother in The Hunger Games trilogy. But this brought up the question, if Lily’s mother was catatonic, why would she bring her daughter to the psychologist, especially if she needed a shrink herself. She wouldn’t care enough to help her daughter through mourning her father’s dead, so why would she help her when she needs it psychologically? It didn’t seem to make sense to me. I wanted her mother to seem like she was dead, without actually being dead, but none of it was coming together. So, I just decided that the only solution to this problem was to have her actually be dead, and see how damaged Lily would be after that. I think she would be suicidal, especially if she witnessed the death. (Spoilers!) This also solves a problem I had a while back, which was the question “Why did she try to commit suicide” and I just couldn’t figure it out until now.
But that is not the only question I must answer. Now I am faced with the daunting “What next?” I’m afraid the only way to answer that question is to unfortunately make Lily’s life even more hard. I was toying around with the idea of making Lily’s father have major flaws when he was alive that really affected Lily and her mother after he died. Then this would give Dr. America a sequeway into fixing Lily up and helping her face her--or majorly her father’s that she inherited upon his death--demons. With this idea, though, I don’t know how far this will go, if it does anywhere at all.
Another problem I have is I am trying to avoid the low-budget movie plot in which there are only four characters, half of which are dead. I want to introduce more characters, but I’m unsure how. I was toying around with adding an equally messed up kid named Todd to the equation--I even wrote a few chapters with them together--but it just felt too Fault in our Stars and It’s Kind of a Funny Story like for it to be successful. I felt like I was biting off of John Green’s and Ned Vizzini’s ideas, and honestly the friendship between Todd and Lily was so unlike Lily--giggling, smiling, laughing, etc.--that I tossed it, knowing it would never work. Speaking of Vizzini, I just realized that Lily smokes pot, and while Craig is not the only teenager with psychological issues that smokes pot, I think I’m gonna toss that idea out of the window. Now that I think of it, smoking pot is so unlike Lily. Why did I even think of that in the first place? Damn it Vizzini, get out my head!
If you’d like to read what I have so far, I’ll post the link to Life of a Lily.