… and started my revision. After only, what, two years? I’ve decided on a couple of plot changes and I really need to tighten up my characters. But the first step is the hardest and I made it through chapter one yesterday. And even though I know I’ve gone through that chapter a dozen times or more, there was so much expository chaff left to delete. I think it will really strengthen my main character to be ruthless about the rumination. I thought of something else to adjust while I was trying to sleep last night, so maybe I’ll work on that today.
I need to send out a one page summary and my first ten pages for my conference critique and I only have a week before the due date so I really need to get those pages dealt with. I have a new version of my synopsis from my class, but it’s a page and a half and, while I suspect it’s fine for querying, it’s too long for the critique session.
I also need a new title. And I’m totally stymied. I like my working title, but I suspect it’s too pretentious for the genre. I’m just a little uncomfortable with it, but I can’t think of anything better and I’m getting frustrated. I have awesome titles for my next two projects so why can’t I think of one for my current project?
My daughter talked me into making cookies for a playdate she had yesterday and it made me think of writing. And no, I don’t mean the obvious metaphor of how a story has ingredients and they have to be mixed in the right proportions, blah, blah, blah. It reminded me of the scene in Anne of Avonlea (I think?) where Anne tries to publish her first story.
Anne gets a rejection and then confides her very dramatic disappointment to Diana Barry. Diana asks to read the manuscript and then complains because the heroine (who is appropriately fancy and hoity-toity, just like Anne likes) bakes a cake a the end. Anne is defensive, saying that the heroine (I think her name is Cordelia?) is trying to show her domestic side. Diana, trying very hard to be a good friend and NOT a critique partner, just smiles and nods. Later Diana re-writes the cake scene and there is a very funny scene where the story wins a flour competition and Anne gets very offended that her work has been used for.. gasp!… profit.
So that made me think about this book I’m reading on developing characters and how you have to create a back story for your character so that you can figure out a natural and understandable way for the character to react to things. If they react in an incongruous way, then your reader will be taken away from the narrative. And I think the important part is that it doesn’t matter if YOU think it makes sense for the character to behave in a certain way – your READER has to think so, too. If they sense that you are just making the character do things to further your plot without being respectful of the character, itself, then the reader will stop trusting you as a writer and become less invested in the character and plot. I can think of a few places in my WiP that have this issue – I know why the characters are doing whatever it is they are doing, but I’m not sure I’ve set it up thoroughly enough to convince a reader.