This is the First assignment in the course Intermediate Novel offered by The Writer’s Workshop • The class is taught by Jana Harris • The text used for this class is The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray
• July 11, 2021 Assignment 1
Assignment One: This is a story about… (500 words)
This was the response by the teacher to the assignment “What is Your Story About”:
Fabulous! Which is to say, that however you perceived the assignment, it was well done as in WOW. I wouldn’t change a word of it.
— Jana Harris
I struggled with how to structure this assignment. After listening to me complain for 2 weeks while I wrote all the way around it, Dave (my husband) suggested I template this assignment from a book jacket description. Book jackets includes the protagonist, action, and theme – basically what the story is about. Yes!
In 1975, in a rust-belt city, on a dead end street lived three girls who were about to become sisters. Audra Noon lives next door to her two best friends, the sisters Dani and Kit. Audra, who has been abandoned by her father the year prior, longs for a soap opera life where she is the diva swirled in drama, intrigue, and romance. Kit, the youngest at eleven, has fashioned herself after her grandmother: small, squat, and floral with gardenia perfume, her poncho printed with orange cosmos, and rhinestone petaled jewels strung on her wrist and neck. Dani, the angular and righteous one, discovers Audra’s father has slinked back into town to cook spaghetti and bed hop with her mother.
The outed couple immediately bounce across the country to Northern California where they start a school for troubled boys. During the girls’ first visitation with their parents in their new digs, they meet Ricky, a handsome, ethnically mixed fourteen year old boy who has lost his mother in a plane crash three years earlier. His father, depressed following the death of his wife, involves Ricky in the Jehovah Witnesses where Ricky dreams of his mother’s resurrection in the Millennial Kingdom. Each of the sisters has their own dreams for Ricky: Audra begins a tempestuous teen romance during a flood; Kit attempts to secure him as a foster brother; and Dani searches out the location of his estranged Puerto Rican grandparents in the stacks of the Weaverville Public Library.
Deftly shifting perspectives, One Life to Live is a coming of age story set in the milieu of the 70s with the decade’s breakout sexuality, quest for identity, and the breakdown of the nuclear family. Amidst the confusion, Audra can’t control her soap opera riddled emotions, Dani attempts to contain her mother’s licentious ways, Kit assigns everyone their proper familial role, and Ricky will find his home. Each must learn how to reconcile themselves to this new age of family.
This class was funded by a generous endowment to my writing by my mom.