So I’ve been reading and writing and constantly comparing where my book draft really is to where it should be going. I’ve got issues with the timing and fictional school calendar in my YA book. I’ve got too much plot and the lens on my characters is nearly all long-shot views. Also, I still haven’t exactly figured out the end. At least I can see where my problems are.
It took me a couple of weeks though to finally figure it out. And I had the realization two ways. One from reading Sara Zarr’s SWEETHEARTS. She has this way of bringing the camera lens so close to the characters that you can practically smell their breath. It was a well-timed read for me. This is why writers HAVE TO be readers.
The other realization came by observing my own daughter, Magnolia. If you’re a regular to the blog then you know that Eleanor stories are frequent. She’s unpredictable, has a worldview unlike other kids her age, and her sense of boundaries are…well, what boundaries? Her character is revealed easily and interestingly by what she does. Magnolia loves structure, panics about doing the “wrong” thing, and waits patiently for people to befriend her, which they always do. Every morning at exactly 7 am, I go in to find her laying on her side facing the door. I kiss her awake, she stretches under the covers, sighs, and rolls up to a kneeling position. The blankets fall away and the cool morning air leaves chill bumps where only a second ago she was warm as toast. She sits there for about 10 seconds and then says, “ok.” That’s my signal to go.
I got to thinking about that. Revealing Magnolia’s character through plot would come off as sloppy writing. I’d show three days in a row of her day going the way, always, and you’d think, “that character is type A. NOT that character is Magnolia. I can achieve showing Magnolia though by describing a different set of details – her morning wakeup.