I have not been much of a warrior today. Okay, fine, I’ve actually been getting my tan on by the pool while reading Rachel Vincent’s My Soul To Take.
But, I’m back in my apartment and I feel certain the UV rays have brought some sort of latent inspiration to the surface, right?
So, I followed through with my plan that I came up with while blogging yesterday. I rewrote a chapter into first person and made changes to fit with the new plot. I wrote a little over 1k in new words yesterday and 3.2k in rewrites. I’m working very hard at never feeling disappointed in myself so long as I’m making foward progress.
It’s crazy to think that I’ve written close to 50k on this story and yet 16,500 words are in my current draft. I’ve switched from 1st person, to 3rd, and back to 1st again. I have a completely different plot. I’ve nixed characters I liked. I’ve changed the main character’s name. But you know what? I consider this all progress for me as a writer because a year ago, I would never have been willing to scrap so much. I’d try to make it work the way it was.
Alright, so I have two main things to share for today:
1. I’ve been perusing some online writing workshops and online classes. I read through one on characterization recently that I liked. Admittedly, I didn’t make it through the whole class transcript, but still. I felt like it made intuitive sense to me. So much advice on characterization deals with discovering your characters’ favorite food, favorite color, favorite TV show, signature drink…and that’s all well and good but I rarely define my best friends by those things. In fact, I don’t even know those things about my best friends. So, for me, the best way to get to know a character is the same way I’d get to know anyone else. Except in fiction, it’s by writing them. You might be surprised when you look below and see that just yesterday after 50k written in this story, I sat down to think about who my characters are as people, but hey, that’s how I did it. I’ve also only written down the barebones of who each one is. I’ll continue to learn, but as I go back and read through I want to continue to flesh out these main fenceposts about the characters, if that makes sense. I want to tie them back to these descriptive pinpoints. The other piece of advice I read that I sometimes forget about it adding character flaws. I want to try to add a fault for almost every good trait I give. But the good/bad traits have to make sense. I can’t say Character X has a really sweet spirit, but also kills turtles for fun. The fault usually needs to stem from the positive trait. Now, that I’ve outlined some of my characters’ faults, I’m hoping that I can use character flaws to create more conflict.
2. Below, I’ve pasted what I worked on yesterday. I’ve redacted a lot for spoilers and also because I’m not ready to give away the main concept. This format for organization is new for me, but it made sense at the time and might help somebody. Like I said, I’ve written out of order, so this was my attempt at de-cluttering my brain.
Ronny Becker – bright, high-spirited, Punky Brewster, spunky, candid
Faults: pig-headed, stubborn, can-do attitude can get her in trouble, feisty like her mother, spring-it-and-wing-it as she dubs herself, hotheaded, curiosity killed the cat
Arabeth Rose – proper, ballerina-esque, unwavering devotion to manners & etiquette, proper, sweet-spirited, kind
Faults: timidity to a fault, adheres blindly to convention & to what she is familiar with, gets her feelings hurt easily
Canterbelle – mature, super student, adult, beautiful, strong sense of self
Faults: likes to feel superior & feels she’s earned it
Mrs. Becker – strong mom, crazy grey-tinged hair, thin, loves her children intensely, conventional mom, takes her job as a mother seriously, a feisty woman, but methodical
Faults: feels the ends justify the means
Madam Lycus – olive-skinned, dark hair, thin, flowing robes, one of the 16
Faults: devotion to her students; to hell with the rest
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Chapter 1-Find burnt up version of [redacted]; hatch plan for Ronny to take her place (Revision notes: need to make less graphic; change to statue of ash; add in Thomas medicine/[redacted]; clarify motives; need to convey that Thomas will be in on the scheme—how old is he?)
Chapter 2-Ronny arrives at Bellaron; falls in w/ girls; blows off Arabeth; intro Canterbelle
Chapter 3-Girls paired together; Ronny doesn’t know new name “Gabrielle;” attention hog (Revision notes: Sophia maybe shouldn’t room with Lucia? Change Lucia’s name to Olivia)
Chapter 4-Madam Lycus speech about Bellaron; room assignments; Ronny lets Arabeth choose beds; wake up & Ronny has fashion crisis & just crisis in general before going down to breakfast (Revision notes: make it more believable that Arabeth goes so quickly from yay! Gabrielle let me choose the bed to lights off total cold shoulder)
Chapter 5-Breakfast scene; intro Canterbelle & friends; [redacted] debate; Ronny almost spills the beans when she gets upset about the girls not believing her; run late to class
Chapter 6-[unwritten] classroom scene/Madam Lycus’s class
Chapter 7-The Assignment; [redacted] (Revision notes: introduce the concept of class rank possibly earlier? Maybe Ronny just notices a board in the lunchroom)
Chapter ( ) – Pop Quiz; cookie prank
Chapter ( ) – Ronny had been so preoccupied with pranks and sneaking out that she hadn’t done her essay; she is cranky b/c she’s so tired; discovers Sophia has hidden all the books she needed for her project; Ronny yells at her friends; list of things she’s not proud of; shimmies down the column; mom beckons her in b/c not safe outside; Ada Brackett has gone missing; hear scuffling; see a pair of eyes at the window (Revision notes: a lot happens, if more scene setting, etc. might break this into two chapters; up suspense, but shorten sequence when she is going down column; try to make believable)
Chapter ( ) – Three options (A), (B), (C); Mom brings butter knife; kettle whistles & falls; find huge [redacted]; find Arabeth & bring her inside; Arabeth can’t put manners on pause & meets Ronny’s mom (Revision notes: this needs lots of fleshing out; why doesn’t Thomas hear & wake up; make the first meeting between Arabeth & Ronny believable; give the [redacted] enough weight & remember how close they are to the house)
Chapter ( ) – Arabeth, mom, Ronny sit around kitchen table; at first Arabeth seems nice, then Ronny gets defensive & they get in huge fight with each other; devolves into catfight, pulling hair, etc.; Thomas comes out (Revision notes: this scene isn’t done or fleshed out; clarify motives and address rising emotions, allow emotions to evolve & escalate naturally; don’t let mother just be a prop; same with Thomas)
- [redacted]events (2-3)
- Rules of games
- [redacted] scare incident with Ronny
- Forest fires
- [redacted] reports
- Ronny sneaking out to see family
- Ronny’s dropping class rank; starts out 1st then drops way down
GENERAL REVISION NOTES:
- World-building right away; what does this world have in it/what does it not? How is it different than our world? Where is it in time? How can I convey this to the reader right away?
- What role do the [redacted] play? What is the importance of the [redacted]?
- What does Ronny and her family stand to gain by attending [redacted]?
- What becomes of the real Gabrielle? What does Ronny’s mom plan to do with her?
- This is a [redacted] Book; make [redacted] more prominent
- From the get-go, need stronger characterizations of Ronny, Thomas, Arabeth, Canterbelle
- Strong hook at the end of chapter; strong hook at the beginning of the next; try to be clever
- Every sentence in the quickly written scenes needs to be more interestingly written
- Stronger sense of place; every scene needs to have a sense of setting; a couple well-placed details