So, those comments I was so anxious about…

Well, they really were nothing to be afraid of, even though it took me another 3 days to finally look at them. (When I get a bit irrational, I get really irrational.)

So, FWI* raised 3 issues:

  1. One of my supporting characters is too much a shadow right now. He needs to be filled in.
  2. I’m spending too much time in some scenes. I’m being a bit methodical—showing every movement in a scene. I need to cut into and out some of the scenes more quickly.
  3. There is no stated geographical setting.

None of these issues surprises me. They’re all things of which I’ve been aware.

I’ve let the supporting character in question remain a bit vague because I was trying to keep him rather neutral for a reveal of a pivotal plot point that comes a bit later. But FWI pointed out that by keeping him so blank, the reveal will come across as less surprising. Also, my main character needs someone to push her a bit more—she’s hitting the same beat a bit too much. If I can get supporting-character-in-question to throw her off a bit now and again I can shake up my main character and the pace a bit. All points I agree with. Now I just have to figure out how to fill this supporting character.

I haven’t touched my draft since I read FWI’s comments. I needed to let my mind sort through my options for what to do with this SC. The thing is, he’s not a minor supporting character. There was a time when I thought about having two points-of-view, SC-in-question being the other POV. Over the last couple days, I’ve played with the idea of doing this again, but I think, rightly, that I’m considering that because it’s the easy way out. Letting him speak for himself, being able to get into his head would make it so much easier to fill-in the character. When you’re writing in 1st person POV from one character’s POV, it’s 10-times more difficult to find ways to make the other characters full and interesting. Although, I know that’s not entirely true because my other main supporting character is well-developed, and I’ve been repeatedly told so. So, I know I can create and write a full supporting character while not being able to slip into that character’s head or POV. I know in my gut that I need to continue this story from just the one POV. This story remains my main character’s story, and no one else’s. So, I need to go back into the early scenes with SC-in-question and find a way to get him moving a bit more.

As for spending too much time in some of the scenes and being a bit too methodical, this is really a no duh comment for me. If there has ever been something that isn’t a problem for me, it’s showing. That whole show, don’t tell mantra that’s drilled into students’ heads during any intro to creative writing class has been permanently etched into mine. Problem is, I take it a bit too far, and I know it. I’ve never been good at summarizing. I always tell more than needed. This is one of the reasons I know I will need someone else to write the synopsis of this book when it finally is done. I can admit my faults, and this one seems to have infected a few of my scenes. So, I need to go into them and trim the fat. And I will admit there are more than a few pounds that need to be hacked away.

Ok, and now for the lack of a specific place in which this story is taking place. I’m actually amused by this comment more than anything. More than a year ago, maybe even two, in a much earlier draft I had set this story in LA and even saw how the city itself could be a character in the novel. But then it started to feel distracting, and over the course of rewriting the first couple chapters the specific city this takes place in disappeared. Now, in an earlier workshop in another class with a different instructor and with some of my writing group members, I discussed this. And there was some consensus that it read ok without a specific location mentioned. A couple people pointed out that there are more than a few literary fiction books out there with no specific setting, just details here or there that evoke a certain region, but it’s left up to the reader to specify the locale. So, it amuses me that someone finally caught the fact that there is no mention of a specific city; and the fact that FWI missed it the first time he read these chapters. I know he’s reading these pages a lot closer this second time around and he’s getting nit-picky, which is exactly what I wanted; but now I have to decide whether or not I need to fix it. In my head, I know where this story is set. It is a real place. So, I could put a line here or there to orient the reader, but I’m reluctant. I guess I like the idea that this story could take place anywhere. Hmmm…maybe that’s my answer.

I have work to do. Even though some of the issues raised were major and will require a bit of work, they’re things I can fix and things I knew I needed to fix. So, the anxiety was definitely irrational, and I know it. But allow me the occasional moment of insanity, it’s how I stay sane.

Now back to writing. I have another 25 pages due in 2 weeks.

*FWI=favorite writing instructor

Currently listening to: Meteor Shower by Owl City