While enduring my first real stretch of unemployment, I’ve been attempting to put in full time hours on my writing. It’s not an easy habit to build, especially with the distractions of the Internet (Internet…forever!), but I’m getting there.
Since I find it near-impossible to write for 8 hours a day (I can do it, but then I burn out for the next few days, so it’s a wash), I spend the rest of the time reading agent blogs. It’s been enlightening, to say the least! I’ve used the ideas found on those blogs to craft a query I really like for the novel I’m writing, begin to draft one for the novel that I’ll be revising, and start to think about verbal pitches for both.
It’s also led to some frustration. For instance, after reading several agents’ negative feelings about prologues, I began to wonder what I should do with the brief prologue in Beltrunners. It’s an exciting scene (the second word is “explosion”), but it doesn’t involve my main characters at all. Suddenly, it hit me: instead of describing an explosion in space that none of my characters see, why not have it happen at the spaceport where they’re all preparing to go on their trip? It will be a more integral part of the story, not to mention adding immediacy and drama to the first chapter.
But it’s going to be a pain to rewrite. I suspect there will be some headdesking involved.
I did something today that I’d been thinking of doing for a while: changed my main character’s name. Jassmyn Stewart is now Jassmyn Sharma. There’s a reason for this.
I originally gave my heroine a European surname because the Mars of my invented future is the ultimate “melting pot.” People from all over Earth move there to get a new start; these people meet, fall in love, have kids, and hey presto, surnames are no longer the indicator of ethnicity that they once were.
But I began to realize that, short of explicitly describing my heroine’s appearance in terms of ethnicity, it would be very hard for a reader to remember that she is of Indian origin.
What finally prompted me to make the change to a more typical Indian surname was the uproar over the casting in “The Hunger Games.” Some fans were outraged that Rue had been “changed” to be black. The funny thing? She’s described in the book as having satiny brown skin and dark eyes. Suzanne Collins made the choice, correctly I think, to not specifically state the ethnicity of her characters, but to make it obvious from the descriptions. The problem, of course, is that readers don’t always catch what is obvious to the author.
Jassmyn is a strong woman of Indian origin who lives on Mars. Hopefully the name change makes this clear.
It’s so frustrating trying to get back into the swing of novelling after a break. I spent most of the day Saturday baking a cake for my best friend’s birthday (it was worth it: 6 layers of amazing! http://twitgoo.com/5nm92t?cx=u), most of the day Sunday at church, and Monday getting ready for my reading group (we were discussing Kristin Lavransdatter, so I just HAD to make lefse)! Come Tuesday, there was the Open Office document on my computer, needling me with guilt every time I glanced at the icon.
My word count goal is 2,000 words per day. That’s actually not very much for me; when I’m in my stride during NaNoWriMo, I can do up to 5,000 words a day for up to 20 days at a time. But there’s usually a post-NaNo crash, and the “off-season” is much harder for me. Still, I really like this novel and want to finish the first draft so I can get to my editor as soon as possible.
Since I’m approaching the end of the story, I had a few subplots that I want to tie into the climactic scenes near the end, so I re-read through a few older chapters that I wrote back in November.
Crap. Crap crap crap.
So many plot holes! Usually I don’t worry about them too much on the first draft, because my editor will help me fill them, but I’m ashamed to even show these to my editor. I guess he’ll be seeing the second draft instead.