For the past week or so, in addition to revising my young adult fantasy novel, I’ve been crocheting shoes that look like Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. No, I haven’t gone crazy, and yes, you read that right. I found a pattern online, and the shoes are for a two-year-old’s upcoming birthday party. The shoes make nice treat bags for kids.
Okay. I can see your eyes glazing over. There’s a point beyond this, so please be patient.
In case you’re wondering, you make this shoe from the bottom up. First, you start with the sole.
If you’re a fan of Monty Python, perhaps you remember a sketch involving a larch and are thinking right now as I am, “The Larch.” If you’re not a fan, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Second, you crochet the tongue separately (below left). The tongue is one the of the most important parts, because it helps anchor the sole to the sides of the shoe. You can’t start the sides (third) until you connect the tongue to the shoe. You build the sides from the last stitch you used when you connected the tongue.
Fourth, crochet the shoestring (below left). The shoestring gives the shoe character. Fifth, make the little logo thingie. My embroidered stars need work, however.
The pattern is very specific. I had to constantly count stitches. Since all of the parts fit together, I needed to be exact. If the stitch count on the sole is off, the whole shoe falls apart. After all, the sole is the foundation. (If you’d like the pattern, please comment below and I’ll email it to you.)
Crocheting these shoes reminded me of aspects of novel writing. You start with the soul (rather than the sole). The soul of a work of fiction is the main character and his or desires—hidden or overt. Without a compelling character and a desire line, the novel (in my opinion of course) can’t stand.
I consider the tongue to be the voice in which you write. Voice is not only narrative voice (point of view), it also involves your own writing style. Here are some posts with good advice on voice:
The sides of the shoe remind me of the plot of a book. The plot gives a book its shape. But without the soul of the book and the voice, the plot seems empty—like the sides of a shoe without a sole or a suit without a body. After all, stories are about people.
For a long time, I didn’t realize that character drives plot. I concentrated on plot rather than character. I thought I could plunk any old person into whatever plot I devised. I had a lot to learn.
The shoestring is the dialogue, which adds flair to your novel. Here is where character counts. The words your character says and the way he or she says them (and don’t forget subtext—what your character doesn’t say, but what we can infer based on his or her mood), add to the compelling nature of your book.
The logo circle? That’s the genre of your book or your series. These are the details that help readers know your book belongs to a specific genre or genre hybrid. Converse’s star logo is instantly recognizable. You know you’re looking at a Converse shoe, as opposed to Adidas. In the same way, you can readily tell a historical fantasy book from one that’s contemporary realistic.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the stitches themselves. They represent the words in your novel. With each word, each description, you build the novel from the ground up. Having a compelling character is great. But a novel also can stand or fall based on word choices.
You might have a completely different interpretation of these aspects. But that’s the way I see how they add up. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have three and a half more shoes to make and another chapter to revise in my novel.