Prewriting never ends.

by Shannon


Having taken a long break from writing, it is interesting how my perspective has shifted, now that I return to it. Specifically, I return to Molly Worthington with clarity–and with clarity I can see the lack thereof, which went into my initial planning of it. I realize now that it is irrevocably YA. Whether my characters are young or old, whether their moral compasses point entirely north, they are colorful and eager in a way that only YA currently allows. This is a challenge, because my previous lack of focus is not at all in line with the succinct, tightly plotted and precisely characterized nature of YA as a genre. Ah, well.

While on break at work one day, I began to re-outline the whole project, with notes in the margins about what I need to focus on, or change. I outline in five parts, like five acts, shamelessly stolen from the structure of every Shakespearean play I’ve ever read. On the bright side, I’m nearly finished the first act, which is comprised entirely of getting out of port–a challenge if I’ve ever seen one, with this story. Once I finish the first part properly, I may go back and make some initial changes, just to get the tone right so that I can have a good foundation upon which to build the rest of the story. Basically, I need to cut the fat and add more of the title character, or Aaron’s impression of her, anyway. She is far too secondary for a character as central and attention grabbing as she is supposed to be. Sebastian is just so distracting and fun to write that he kind of steals every scene he’s in, and a few he’s not in.

Also, I am realizing quickly, as I struggle to piece together the whole scope of the rising action (the monstrous and lengthy odyssey that is Act II) that this story is by its nature a serial one. Here I have characters perfectly poised to return and go on other adventures, side quests… and a home whose government is poised to shift in ways very essential to the well being and priorities of those characters. And the background to the conflict I have set up in this one cannot here be resolved. It’s startling, to say the least, how this has grown and spawned offspring without my consent. Ah, well. I will write too much, as I always do, and hack out the unnecessary and stifling undergrowth with the machete that is my red pen.

In other news, yesterday, it was 80 degrees. In PA, in March. We’re supposed to be having blizzards. I am supposed to despair of ever seeing the sun again, let alone growing things and Rita’s Water Ice. I am ever convinced that the Mayans were right. It is the end of the world. I think I am the only one in the northeast entirely uncomfortable with this massive and frightening shift in weather patterns. So naturally, I ignored it by going to the movies. My family and I saw The Hunger Games, and it was just as brilliant as we had hoped it would be. Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant, and they couldn’t have cast Cinna better, or Seneca Crane. Though, I can’t decide if hearing “Allt Varð Hljótt” by the ever brilliant Ólafur Arnalds during the hallucination scene would have been more distracting, or less, if I hadn’t known it was coming.

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