I Have No Friends — A Novel and an Experience

Lexi and Moondance

by Russell Dyer
published:  nov 16, 2017;  revised:  nov 20, 2017;  readers in past month:  152

When I wrote Chapter Ten, which includes Lexi singing the song Moondance (Van Morrison 1970), I had not planned on Lexi singing or including that song. Nor had I intended to write the emotional breakthrough that Lexi experienced—nor had I even considered her psychological history. All I wanted to accomplish in that chapter was for Lena to meet Clive at a bar, and Lexi to leave them alone. The process of how I pieced this together and was led to much more, is interesting.

Since Lena won’t go to a bar alone, I needed Lexi to take her to one. I contrived the idea of Lena and Lexi meeting Lexi’s boyfriend Les at a restaurant, but since he is late, they wait in the bar of the restaurant—where they meet Clive. After Lena and Clive meet, so that they can begin to form a connection, I needed Lexi to leave them alone. Leaving the bar and going elsewhere with Les was the best solution. So I had Lexi step outside of the restaurant and call Les to inform him of a change of plans.

I could have left it there and just noted that Lexi went off to meet Les. However, when I was writing this chapter ending, I was sitting at a table outside of a restaurant where a friend of mine cooks. I heard from overhead the song Moondance playing. It reminded me of the movie, August Rush. It was basically the theme song of that movie, a movie during which I always cry. Since I had included bits of a couple of other songs in the novel, I decided to include some lines from Moondance.

If I was creating a movie, I would simply have added the song to the background. But in writing novels, songs have to be handled differently. I decided to have Lexi sing the song as she walks to meet Les. Quoting all of the lyrics or most of them all together would be dull to read. Instead, I came up with the idea of having Lexi sing the song aloud as she walked, with people interrupting her with comments about her singing, humming or skipping lines when she felt a little embarrassed by passersby. That made the text containing the song flow and the scene more interesting.

What I did not expect, as I started to write this scene which included the song, was it to have an emotional effect on me. To help me to stay in that mindset and to choose which lines to include, I played the song on my phone multiple times as I wrote. Something about the words of the song, the emotions I feel when watching August Rush, and the transformation that was beginning to occur with Lena, whom Lexi had just left, stirred something within me. Suddenly, the psychology of Lexi, as well as her relationship with Lena made sense. It became a healing moment for Lexi and for me. I wrote those extra five pages rapidly, with tears running down my cheek and dripping onto the pages of my notebook as I wrote.

The result, I think, was that it made the chapter the best one in the novel and it changed my perspective on Lexi as a deuteragonist. After that, I went back and rewrote many aspects of the Lexi character and added many pages about her life and background. She became almost equal to the Lena, the protagonist. In fact, in a way, Lexi is the protagonist of the second part of the novel and Lena becoming secondary to her.