Thursday, 14 July 2011

Comparing my Leading Ladies

I've had quite a productive day today in Dissertation-land.  I can tell by the fact that I have the beginnings of that sharp pain in the back of my head which tells me I've been staring at my computer screen for too long.

I think the pain is worth it though.  I've been feeling horribly unproductive this week, only managing a few hundreds words a day, if that.  I'm still not connecting with my story as much as I'd like, though it is getting better.  I've still yet to figure out exactly why this is, although I have a few ideas.

The action is starting to move along a little bit now and I think this is helping some.  After writing the first draft of a novel last year where my main character spends most of her time shooting people and blowing stuff up, it was a little tricky to go to Hide and See's main lady, Rhonda, who thus far hasn't done much besides working in an office and having a natter with Joel, the main guy.

Obviously this is my fault, not Rhonda's, so I can't blame her.  The adventure stuff is coming round the corner though and while it's not very good for poor old Rhonda, it will hopefully help from the writing point of view.

I can't help but compare Rhonda to other main character in other novel (called Renarde) even though the books are very different.  Renarde is brave, daring, sharp, skilled... but very emotionally damaged.  Rhonda must grow into her courage throughout the course of Hide and See and while at the moment I wouldn't go so far as to call her a wimp (she definitely isn't), I do sometimes wish she were a little stronger.

Again, I'm talking about it as if it's all her fault.  It's not like I bloody created her or anything.  It's not like she is, in fact, nothing more than a product of my very weird imagination.  I'm one of those crazy writers, you see, the ones who find their characters running away on their own, rather than those sane authors who manage to remain attached to reality and are fully aware at all times that their characters are not actually real.

It would probably be better for my sanity if I could inhabit this second group.  Alas, my leading ladies are all too real and tend to go off on one before my fingers are really aware of what they've typed.

Anyway, back to the point (yes there is one lurking in here somewhere).  Today, I managed to finish the first complete draft of my dissertation.  This needs a WOOHOO! and an OH NO!  My problem has revealed itself in one of the above convoluted paragraphs (Gold Star to anyone who can find it).

The answer: I am only just getting to what I call 'the beginning of the exciting bit'.  So this raises two issues:

1) Does this therefore make what I've written so far (i.e. two assignments and my dissertation) boring?


2) Will I have sufficient motivation to carry the story on?

I don't know the answer to either question.  Maybe I should buy a magic-eight ball.


  1. Well, my dear and extremely able young friend, if you want the truth, I'm going to give it to you. The answer to question 1, judging by what you have said so far, is probably yes. In order for it work [talking completely off the top of my head and out of my derriere simultaneously... I know, it's a talent of mine :)}you need to force yourself to go over it again and possibly give her some clearer dilemmas which you could suggest she is grappling with, on the verge of overcoming? You might want to search for her primary, secondary and tertiary motivations. The main problem that I can see is that the adventure stuff is 'just round the corner'... What? 20,000 words in? I don't think so! IMHO (speaking as someone who is still procrastinating... so yeah, tell me to sod off!), you are either going to have to condense three chapters into one OR ignore your first draft for the moment and keep writing for another two/three chapters into the exciting bit, no matter how rough it is. After which... you might decide to cut most of the first few chapters. A little something I picked up from somewhere, "Make the end of each chapter COMPELLING." If that's not happening, you need to beef it all up. Also, you could try at the end of every page asking yourself "Why did I put that scene there? What does it add? What does it reveal or conceal? If the answers are feeble, you know what you have to do. As to question 2, I reckon you will have the motivation to carry the story on once you have cleared these muddy waters. It's a great idea and you are a super fab writer. Still friends?

  2. Oh yes, and another mad suggestion. On days when you have a full proper day to write i.e. just 'you' time, don't just write. Be reading three (good) books at the same time. One hour's writing, one hour's reading. So much accidental/incidental stuff to nick when you do it that way. :)

  3. I'm set to read it all through again today (having let it stew over the weekend) to see how it all comes together - fingers crossed it's more interesting that I'd thought! Thanks for your comments - I think some cutting will definitely be in order!