Recently, a beta reader for my young adult literary fantasy novel, Story Bends, asked about a specific sidekick McGuffin I planted in the narrative.
“Why a journal?”
My answer: The journal serves as a physical space to embody my main character’s unique internal experience. (A McGuffin- a plot propellant in the form of an object or entity that can be a powerful tool to ground readers). In this case, the journal represents Edward’s displaced desire to release the triggers of trauma, reclaim his broken bits, as it serves as a place marker for the seeds of a death memory. The journal, given to his mother by a mystic healer, Sister Dina, travels with him into The Bends ‘where the muddled memories wait’. It is a place of sanctuary for him when the world weighs too heavy, and it serves as a protective joist as he makes his way toward the leap of faith he must take on his own at the end.
A journal is a timeless, universal tool to express emotion. I felt it would be the most efficient mode of transfer for the story’s quirky, eclectic tone. This journal and the etchings Edward draws served the perfect operative function for relaying information about the messages transmitted to him and expunging the voices that plague him and throughout the story.
When I think of the many journals I’ve kept over the course of my life, I think of the role they’ve played in my own growth. They provide a safe place of release and a way to distance myself from the cargo weighing on my spirit. I settled on the idea of a journal for Edward because it is a story of healing and finding new grace between the folds and pages of a trusted friend.
So now, when asked about the use of a journal, I answer: A journal is a friend when no one else will listen, a focal point when life becomes too much, and a prayer when we need to reach beyond the scope of our everyday experience.
It might even be a place for one hell of story.
Story Bends will be available October 9th through Pen Name Publishing. In a tale of two traumas, a boy, his memories, a journal, and a journey into the ‘Thin Places’ Edward comes to decide what will define him.

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