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· Braiding ·
Braiding means weaving information into the story, especially characters, like a hairdresser weaving strands of hair into one strong braid.
In my novel, Taking Back the Bullet, I focus on three main characters and their families.
Out of thirty-four chapters in the book, I use the first nine chapters introducing the fictional characters.
The first two chapters are set in Prairie Grove, Kansas, where the reader meets jailer Tom Jennings and artist Jesse Thomas.
In the next two chapters we watch boxer Joe Morningcloud, who is visiting from Nespelem, Washington, meet University of Kansas graduate student, Jesse Thomas (in Lawrence, Kansas).
The last of the three families also resides in Prairie Grove. There, Carolyn Odessa, Cottonwood County Medical Examiner; and Shawn Smith, ex-coroner, work death calls.
Carolyn and Shawn are parents of two sons; one boy, James Odessa-Smith, is a focal point in the character-driven novel.
Police Officer Tom Jennings, obese as a mutant Idaho potato in a jiggling gelatin suit; James Odessa-Smith with his schizoaffetive disorder; and young Suanna Morningcloud, a person with albinism, and half Nez Perce Indian and half Caucasian; are all searching for their identities and culture.
The characters move in and out of the frame of the story.
Weaving the appearance of the characters allows readers the opportunity to shift their attention to something new while keeping in mind the connections.
When, in chapter ten of Taking Back the Bullet, all three main characters meet during a botched bank robbery, the reader is already familiar with them.
The fictional characters and their families are changed and connected forever as they are forced to ask themselves: “Who am I and where do I belong?”
The point of braiding is to tell the story over a period of time, over a period of chapters, while moving the story forward and keeping it fresh.
During your writing, you also have the opportunity to tell back stories, really clues, as to what motivates your characters.
Back stories are a topic for another blog, but they are relevant when discussing braiding.
Be careful about weaving too many back stories into your novel in an attempt to create rich detail, because your goal of a realistic, cohesive story, could end up as a confusing piece of abstract art.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!