In Nathacha Appanah’s novel The Sky Above the Roof, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan and out now from Graywolf Press, a family drama unfolds through the eyes of several characters. After seventeen-year-old Wolf steals his mother’s car to search for his estranged sister, he causes an accident for which he is arrested and incarcerated, forcing his mother and sister to fight for his release. Instead of using a linear narrative to tell the story of what led to this event, Appanah builds the family’s fractured lives into the novel’s structure, each chapter offering a new version of events. As the novel progresses and more details about the characters are revealed, the reader is able to piece together the story. Taking inspiration from nonlinear narratives, build a story around a single life-altering event. First, try listing the characters affected by the conflict then write into their individual perspectives, taking into account each distinct tone, diction, and background.
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