Friday, June 02, 2006

Working at Home and Writing

Today I got to "tele-experiment" and work from home. I can't go into detail what I did or why I had to do it at home. You don't want me tracking you down, do you? That's not a good way to build a readership for this blog. After I was done, I had to go to work and drop off the products of my experiment. It wasn't very fun to have to change out of shorts and drive to work at 3:30 on a Friday, but I was a good girl and did it. I even did some paperwork while I was at the office. Tonight after Eugene and I had dinner, we got Blizzards at Dairy Queen and watched part of a Genesis concert, the one at Wembly Stadium. The music was good, but I can't say the same for Phil Collins' mullet.

Writing: I worked a little bit on Lennon's Line during the day when I had a few spare moments. Currently I'm editing/revising the third draft. I didn't get past the first page, but I did manage to make some changes to the opening paragraph. This is progress, since for the last couple of days I've been staring at the opening and drawing a blank as to what to do to it. Heather's comments gave me some ideas to make it clearer, but only today did they start to gel. I'm hitting the wall again, unfortunately, so I think I may switch stories and see if I can at least get some words down.

Since posting my latest review on OWW a couple of days ago, I've been thinking about characterization. This chapter was close to the opening of the novel, and one of the characters comes across as weak since he has trouble dealing with what's happened to him (granted, several traumatic events occur in succession; anyone would have trouble coping with all of them at once). I've read later chapters of this work, and the character does grow over the course of the story. But even if a character develops over the course of a story arc, do the readers ever get away from their first impressions? I've had critters comment that they've found several of my protagonists unsympathetic for various reasons: Paul started off on the shallow side, Ysabel seemed much younger than she actually was (though at least I seem to have fixed that problem in the current version of Day) and Gwen's arrogance puts everyone off. All of these flaws are ones I want my characters to overcome during the story. Paul's guilt over his mother's death forces him to mature very quickly; Ysabel's responsibilities help her become more self-assured, especially once she's away from her prejudiced father; and constant contact with others who weren't born into the nobility make Gwen more human. The problem I have is that I make my characters so flawed in the beginning that they can become unsympathetic, and if you lose readers in the beginning, they'll never see the characters change. Strangely enough, I didn't seem to have that problem with Jo and and Sybil. Perhaps using first person in their stories helped, or perhaps many readers also go around with chips on their shoulders. I think I may need to learn how to tone down protagonists' flaws a bit and play up their strengths. It's a delicate balancing act, and it's one that you can't really fix without the help of good reviewers to point out when they want to smack your characters.

No comments:

Site Meter