Keeping Characters Fresh

I’m optimistic that I will finally be able to finish my young adult novel in progress, THE MAGIC QUILT. Working 5 mornings a week on the book has helped the characters to stay alive in my mind. What I struggled with before was that when I did have an hour or two or five to work on The Magic Quilt, usually on Saturday or Sunday morning, it took me at least an hour to get back into the world of 1775. I would read my historical notes and skim chapters before I was there in my mind; I need to feel what Katharine feels and experience life with her.

So, I’ve set aside Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to write from 6 to 8 am before work. Two mornings were short writing sessions this week due to pressures from my day job — final deadline for delivery of test items to one of our clients. Even with only an hour, it was enough to keep me in the story and keep Katharine alive.

My goal now is to finish rewriting the historical portions of the novel first, because they are the most difficult to get the emotional interplay right between and among the characters. I did finish a rough draft of a rewrite of the final chapter, and I’m going to start by finishing the ending. I have the history correct, but I don’t yet have Katharine’s voice consistent. Her character grows throughout the novel, so I want to make sure the chapters reflect that growth and match her voice. So I am making what I hope is the final rewrite of the novel for consistency, tightening, and pace of action. I also am cutting where necessary, which is hard for me because I’ve fallen in love with several scenes that do NOT move the story along; they have to go. I have started a folder of unused scenes. I’ve called the folder “sequel.” When I delete scenes and sometimes whole chapters I move them to this folder on my computer. I may never use these scenes in a sequel, but at least I don’t feel like they are lost.

In the words Diane Chamberlain of one of my favorite authors, writers need to give the reader some credit to follow the story without telling them everything:

Even though my work-in-progress is my seventeenth, I’m still having to dial back my desire to over-explain all the relationships and past events early in the story. The chapter I’m revising right now. . . I actually think I can cut it out altogether and trust the reader to fill in the blanks. Otherwise, the pace will slow down and that’s the last thing I want. I need to remember that my reader will enjoy a feeling of discovery as she makes her way through the book. I don’t need to weigh her down with information she can figure out on her own. Read Diane Chamberlain’s blog.

If this blog is silent over the next couple of weeks, it is because I am making a tremendous effort to finish The Magic Quilt. Wish me luck.

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