It’s beautiful today. A few degrees cooler and it’d be Exact Perfect Weather. But I’m stuck inside photocopying things. On a deadline, no less, so I can’t skip out early. Boooo.
It’s nice that I don’t need my brain for photocopying, because it’s otherwise occupied. I’m on the revising rollercoaster. One minute I believe that the book has promise, that people besides me might be interested in spending time with my characters. That other people might swoon over Ky, laugh at Claire’s whoredom, hurt for Bree, and sympathize with Molly’s blended-family issues.
The next minute, though, all I can see are the things I want to fix.
It could be so much better, I know. There are three small characters I can delete entirely; they’re amusing but they don’t really further the plot. There are two characters I can merge to create one definitive, tattooed, incendiary political artist. There are two scenes I should cut. Other chatty scenes must be distilled. In fact, I’m wondering if there’s a more active way for Molly to clue in to two or three plot points. I love writing dialogue, but I worry that there’s not enough actual Action. Part of her (*gag* I almost wrote “journey”) development (is that any better?) is that she becomes more of an active participant in her own life, a doer instead of an observer.
Is there enough at stake, though? I worry about that too. I’ve been reading lots of fantasy lately. Molly’s never in hardcore danger; there aren’t vampires or faeries or anybody trying to kill her. But that isn’t to say there are not people who would like to hurt her, or use her to hurt others. And she grows so much. Her concept of what is possible changes. She starts to relax into herself as an artist. She falls in lust. She stands up for herself. She helps her friends even when it may get her tranqed and dumped (not necessarily in that order). She learns that her mom isn’t perfect, and her stepmom isn’t a total bitch. She chooses what is right over what is easy…sometimes.
And then there’s world-building. How is Garolass different from Pennsylvania? I have a decent grasp of their families and history. But what about language? Schools? Medicine? Weather? What are the rules of this society and its magic? What led my Giovanti to their hideout, and how do they sustain it? What are they doing to change the status quo? One of my notes to myself actually says, “Give the hippies teeth!” But how? These are the questions I’ve been getting from my crit group, and I don’t know the answers. It freaks me out. I need to know them.
I’m not sure what technique to use. Do I talk it out? Write out the answers? Which questions out of the dozens are the Really Important Ones? Not all of this info will go in the text, obviously, but it feels good to explore as much as possible. (Crit group? If you’re reading this, I’d love to have some specific questions. I <3 questions!) I’m thinking about doing character profiles, too. I think they’re pretty solid, but it’s fun to ponder. Characters are the best part for me. What’s Claire’s favorite food? (chocolate-dipped strawberries) What does Drew do for fun? (Beat up girls…wait, no, I mean: play video games…where he gets to beat up girls, probably. I can totally picture Gemma stalking around, detailing her plans to take over the universe, and he’s all, "Sure, honey, wait ’til I hit this zombie chick." It kinda cracks me up.).
Anyway, it’s like the creative side and the logical, analytical dramaturg side of my brain are totally duking it out today. I need both, I know. The book will be better for it. But it’s kinda crazymaking.