Featured Story: A Summer Nowhere

A Summer Nowhere is an original fiction written by AliMeansWings. This story shows how one summer can change who a person is forever. In this week's Featured Story, Ali tells us all about this story of self-discovery.

Give us a brief summary of A Summer Nowhere.

The best way I can summarize A Summer Nowhere is to say that it's the story of Jobie, a teenage girl who really just wants nothing more than to have an interesting life, or at least an interesting summer. Her life has been so boring up to this point that she'll take whatever she can get, but with the help of her friends and the people around her, she starts to figure out what she wants her life to be like as opposed to what she thinks is cool. And, of course, romance is discovered and relationships are tested, as always.

What inspired you to write A Summer Nowhere?

A Summer Nowhere is semi-autobiographical. I grew up in the same small town that's in the story and every character is based on someone from my life there. I found myself reminiscing about the old days and thinking about all of the ways I could've made one particular summer different. It was sort of a defining point in my life and I wanted to turn it into something more involved and interesting.

How long have you been working on this story?

Literally years. At this point, I'm not even sure how many. A while ago, I got a sudden rush of inspiration and wrote a very detailed character analysis for all of these people from that time in my life, tweaking it to make them similar, but not identical. I never actually started writing the story until a few months ago, but it's been in my head for a long time.

What is your favorite thing about writing A Summer Nowhere?

I absolutely love taking myself back to when I was sixteen or seventeen and thinking "What would I have WANTED to do in this situation?" Jobie's very headstrong and blunt, much more so than I was at her age, so she's kind of my idol and I love being able to form her into exactly what I wanted to be.

What is the most challenging thing about writing it?

The most challenging aspect of writing this story is probably my characters taking over. I know what I want out of the story, and so I know what the characters have to do and say; I know how the scenery needs to look/feel. But sometimes it doesn't seem organic to them, and I end up having to change an entire scene around to accommodate them. I'm supposed to be the boss of these characters, but more often than not, they're the boss of me.

Have you ever experienced writer's block with this story? If so, how did you overcome it?

Absolutely. Sometimes I can write two or three chapters in a row without losing motivation, but writers block inevitably hits and when that happens, I have to take a step back and focus on something else. Usually, once I've been distracted for long enough, my brain goes right back to the story and I end up rushing to get to it.

Do you write with an outline, or just wing it?

In the beginning, like I said before, I had an extensive character analysis and I wrote a detailed outline to go with it. But when I actually began writing the story, it got away from me and I ended up ditching most of the outline and winging it. I still know the ultimate goal, but the way I've ended up getting toward it has totally changed.

Do you have any pre/post writing rituals?

I don't know if this counts as a ritual, but if it does, my pre-writing ritual is obsession. I let the story build so much in my head that if I don't write it down, I feel like it's going to take over my entire brain and I'll just burst. I know that sounds dramatic, but that's how it feels. As for post-writing, I just sort of skim through and edit. I think over the years, I've come to find that if you can type well, you make less mistakes, and practice makes perfect. I've also come to realize that most readers care less about typos and more about the story/characters.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?

Yes! I feel compelled to sort of defend this story's format to people who kind of might not "get it". There are so many things to consider, and obviously not everyone's going to like your story, but I'm very attached to this one. I guess the most important thing is that this story's voice is entirely Jobie's. Not only is she the narrator, but I wanted to make it as though she was looking over her life and sort of telling you her story from start to finish. She looks at situations as they're happening, so tenses tend to mix. And she's from the rural south, so her grammar isn't impeccable. I'd like to think it's a unique voice. It goes from first to second to third person (I, you, they) kind of frequently, and my biggest worry is that that's going to confuse people. I guess my advice is to just kind of go with it and see if you don't fall in love with the characters.

Special thanks to cleopatra. and losing control. for editing!

Latest articles