Saturday, October 3, 2009

Questions Answered & Characterization Exercises Explored

I'm taking a break from extolling the virtues of research to clear up a few ambiguities from my last post.  As expected, some of you were shocked by my decision to nix Cora altogether.  One of my BEs also commented that it looked as if I was attempting to rise to the challenge of rewriting Ophelia, despite my earlier inclination not to.  So I wanted to "clear the record" on both decisions ...

I decided to cut Cora Morse, my ailing co-protagonist, and her husband Arthur for one very simple reason: the feedback I've been getting has led me to the conclusion that this storyline, and the characters in it, are simply not compelling enough to sustain as much space within my novel as they currently take up.  So then I had to ask myself, how would they (and their story) work if they were relegated to the "background"?  And the answer was, "not well at all;" the Cora/Arthur/Ophelia subplot either needs to be front and center, or taken out completely.  Anything else would just become distracting noise.

Which leads me to Ophelia.  I have no intention of bringing Ophelia's life to the forefront in Draft #2 the way I did in Draft #1.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have no plans, at least not at this time, of trying to perfect my ability to tell a story through a southern African-American woman's eyes.  (The Lord knows I'm having enough trouble perfecting my storytelling through the eyes of an average white girl.)  I do still believe, however, that Ophelia is a potentially compelling character, and my goal is to give her a lesser role in this new version, but to hone and craft it in such a way as to do her justice.

On a related note, my next proactive step toward starting my 2nd draft is to complete the list of personal and emotional attributes set forth on p. 266 of Manuscript Makeover.  I plan to do this exercise for each of my 3 protagonist/viewpoint characters, as well as for their family members.  I also stumbled across an interesting blog the other day entitled 52 Weeks of Wordage where the host puts up a new writing exercise each week.  I'm definitely going to tune into her blog throughout my rewriting process, just to keep me on my toes re my characters' depth and believability.

This was a rather hodge-podgey post, so I don't have any all-encompassing words of wisdom to leave you with.  Just, "keep writing!" ;-)


  1. I'm in the process of revision right now, too. It is tough to cut story lines and characters, but sometimes it's for the best.

  2. Yes, I'm learning this the hard way! I didn't believe I could do it until it just hit me that I'd essentially be making "silk out of a sow's ear" in tweaking my current draft. I look forward to reading about your revision as I begin mine!