In my upcoming novel Poor Man’s Galapagos, the island’s mayor initiates construction of a luxurious hotel on the island, which is designed to attract tourists and infrastructure. The island priest is obsessed with liberation theology, the philosophy that it is against the precepts of religion to focus on spiritual needs while ignoring worldly needs such as adequate food and water. While his church is based on Portoviejo’s, the concept of liberation theology is one that has long been embraced in Latin America. Juan Carlos, Tomas’s friend, is a reporter and formerly a lawyer on the mainland who agrees to help Tomas with his fight for conscientious objection. Tomas’s “Ecuadorian mother” (his step mother who takes care of him) is the feisty Señora of the family. There is another character, a nurse acting as a doctor, who lives in the campo (the countryside) and cannot seem to escape.
Now all of these different characters could have separate, disparate lives. But books such as “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maas (a literary agent in New York City) emphasize the importance of having complex interweaving between the characters’ lives. Adding as many layers as you can to have intricate connections between them is important, as it enriches the story and brings it to life. I found this while doing rewrites, and that made the editing process both challenging and rewarding.
Another important aspect of the story was bringing someone back to the same place to show a change in character. That is a literary technique, showing how a character thinks of a place in one instance, and then how he or she thinks and reacts to that same location and situation after having experienced an inner change.
A word about readings, writing groups and courses. I have been on the executive of the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch since 2010, and I am currently the President. I strongly believe that aspiring writers should read their work in public as much as possible, and engage with other writers, editors, publishers and agents. Groups such as the Canadian Authors Association, which holds talks with writing professionals and member readings, can only enhance a writer’s development. By interfacing with those who have developed their skills as writers, editors, publishers or agents, writers can advance their own skills and become more effective in planning their own individual writing paths.
To be continued...