Thankfully everyone at the workshop was super wonderful and very supportive. That being said, there is no denying that my WIP needs to be dismantled and significantly restructured. Everything that was pointed out was glaringly true, and sadly filled with the exact same feedback I often give other writers when I am reviewing or betaing. Let the bells of hypocrisy toll!
And yes, I haven't blogged in a while; probably due to the freedom of not having a deadline unlike the newsletter. So I figured that this might be a good thing for me to follow up with. After all, witnessing me blundering through my own mistakes is probably far more entertaining... um, I mean, far more useful to fellow writers than my critiques of others.
I will probably save the more specific examples for the newsletter (so subscribe if you haven't already!), but I will definitely be sharing some of the revision steps I am trudging through.
So let's begin!
I know this seems super obvious, but this is exactly where I need to start in my revision.
One of my main characters is seriously lacking in purpose. This shouldn't surprise me since even as the author I've been having a tough time sympathizing with this character, and everyone at the workshop agreed that she's flimsy - not one likable trait in her.
I need to invest in her more. I need to give her a drive that is not dependent upon another character. Essentially, I need to answer the question, "What would she be doing if none of the other characters had placed any demands on her?"
Honestly, as I have her currently written, she's a desk lamp. Without someone claiming ownership of her, she's clutter on a shelf. Her only purpose thus far is to give context for another character.
I need to fix this. I need to fix this first. All of the other notes from the workshop are pointless if I don't have a reason for this character to be in the story. Clearly I could take the easy road and just cut her out from the main character line-up, but starting so late into the story I have would really change everything. Her journey is the catalyst that shakes up everything for everyone, so she needs to matter!
I have been toying with two different backstories for her, both of which dramatically change the type of person she will grow to be. Almost so dramatically that I will have to consider the likelihood of every scene I have even being plausible... I wasn't kidding when I said I had to dismantle this whole thing.
None of this is a shock. No one writes a novel in three days without needing to change everything. And I know that this is worth salvaging. I love the matriarchal role that she has in the end of my narrative. She is strong, self-sacrificing, and so in-tune with the world(s) around her. It just doesn't work to have her begin this journey a completely naive idiot, which is pretty much all she is.
If I can give a tip to my fellow writers out there: listen to your gut. If you are getting irritated by a character, fix it or delete it. Even "annoying" characters are loved by their authors. It's the brushed-over ones that are lifeless.
Easy to preach, harder to re-produce. I will let you know how I fare in making this monumental decision.
My next few twitter posts may be filled with many expletives. You have been warned.