Since Last Time

Work I’ve gotten done since last time:

Title: Free Souls
Chapter in Play: Part 2, Chapter 12
Beginning Word Count: 91,923
Period’s Ending Word Count: 92,049

Oh, the joys of growing as a writer! Or should that be, “the pains”?

Chapter 12 of Part 2 introduces the next guy in my main character Sandy’s life, her first college boyfriend Marvin Jansovic. Marvin is a bit of a problem, not only for Sandy, but also for me. A scruffy, careless, self-centered, over-drinking good-time Charlie, he was, I thought, settled in Ch. 2.12 as previously written. I wanted the reader to see him as her reaction against the “divine” and disappointing Jeff. As an embarrassing episode she’d rather forget and pretty much had. And I think I succeeded.

Trouble is, I wrote that chapter when I was making a point of reminding the reader that all this backstory is something she’s remembering one evening ten years later. It’s from the perspective of her 28-year-old self, older and wiser. But I’m not doing that anymore. Even though technically it’s still all reminiscence, I’m putting her (and the reader) back into the events of her past, as if she were going through them for the very first time.

So as much as I liked the distant tone of the original Marvin chapter (good grief, it was so distant I wasn’t going to give him a last name!), now it won’t work. Because even though she’s never madly in love with him, or even much in love with him at all, something in the affection line has got to be there to keep a girl like that in a relationship with a guy like that for over a year. Sure, she leads with her head, but the emotions are there and need to be seen.

Just a matter of changing the chapter from Tell to Show? Uh-uh. That would miss the point. Sure, I am doing that, but the crucial difference is the tone of what I’m showing and telling.

But even as I show her liking and settling for this guy I still have to record certain events in their relationship, things she has to go through on her way to becoming the kind of woman who can’t let herself hope for reciprocated love from Eric the hero. It’s slow going. Oh, I could rewrite the material pretty organically– I’ve got a good start on it– but I’m in danger of excluding important milestones. But maybe they’re not that important? Better to think about it.

All I’ve done, then, is a mild amount of substituting, adding, and deleting. But mostly since the 19th I’ve let the writing sit and brew while I weed my rank pit of a front garden and see if I can finally hang my dining room wallpaper.

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