MY CHARACTER LEFT ME
By Natalie Bright
Writing an entire novel is the most wonderful, soul-changing, frustrating, dreaded task you’ll ever tackle. In fact, I once said that I’d never writer a book. My articles and short stories were enough for me.
Several years ago I started a lovely historical story with a 16 year old protagonist targeted to YA market. The suggestion was made that I consider dropping her age to 12 or 13. I rewrote it, and now I have two 7,000+ word manuscripts. I never finished either. Both versions seem wrong, leaving me uninspired and frustrated. Where did my main character go? Will she ever emerge again?
These past several months, this character has been nagging me a lot. She still holds much mystery for me and I must know more about her and the time of her life. The historical period continues to hold much intrigue. I see her as a young girl, on the verge of being woman. I see her being involved in a forbidden love, so a 13 year old is not going to work. YES! I SEE her and she’s getting clearer every day. As to her exact age, I haven’t a clue. Both versions are a muddle in my head.
Note to self: Don’t question the why. I have a beginning and I have an ending. I need to make a list of possible conflict that she must overcome. I will write the scenes in my head, no matter the order. Make it to the end. With the help of my WordsmithSix group, we’ll make it tidy and tight.
CRITIQUE THAT MAY STEER YOU WRONG
I’m not saying that it was a waste of my time to rewrite the book with a younger protagonist. Maybe it will help me see the main character and her journey more clearly. At this point, who am I trying to please? The answer: me.
Take writing advice with a grain of salt. In the end you’re the author and only you can make the final decision. Absolutely, make that scary leap and let other people read your work before you publish. I know that you’ve dug to the depths of your soul and sweated over your pages for months and months, perhaps years.
Step back. Listen carefully to your trusted beta readers. Consider all of the possibilities, but in the end you have the final say.
LET’S BEGIN AGAIN
I’m starting over. For the third pass I’ll use elements from both versions. My gut is telling me this story has potential. Hopefully, I can find the heart of the story and it will emerge from the mess I’ve made. This will be a great project for NaNoMo in November, and I’m going to reach the end this time. Phew. I feel so much better about this. Thanks for listening, WordsmithSix!