I was looking over this week's class on Creating a Character and found my instructions for students to write "fast" by revealing their characters through their
Besides teaching, I am also deep into the second draft of my historical young adult novel, Half-Truths. I am fortunate to have Rebecca Petruck as a writing coach; she consistently pushes me to reveal who my characters are.
|Rebecca & I recently talked shop|
at the Whole Foods in Wilmington, NC
In my opening chapter I had written a scene where Lillie, my protagonist, overhears her grandmother's employers arguing with one another. I had written:
“What’s going on?” Lillie asked.
“Missus Dinsmore is fussing at Mr. Dinsmore like usual,” Big Momma said, fanning herself with her apron. “Telling him that while his grandchildren are visiting he’s got to get his nose out of his books and stop playing around with his glass thingamajigs.”
Rebecca commented, "We don't have much from her other than to be present and watch what's happening. I want her reaction to things, her interpretation of the world around her. This is her chapter, so we need to get to know her more. [I want to see more] of Lillie's internal experience."
I could have slapped myself "upside the head" (as a character in my book might say). I had forgotten the "T" in FAST. In fact, there wasn't much "F" (feelings/emotion) in this snippet either!
Several rewrites later, this passage now reads:
In between claps of thunder, Lillie heard bickering coming from the other side of the kitchen wall. “Mr. and Missus Dinsmore fussing again?” Lillie asked. Missus Dinsmore was always acting better than everyone else. But Lillie had overhead enough arguments to know that she could be as nasty as a barnyard dog.
Big Momma fanned herself with her apron. “Missus Dinsmore be reminding him to get his nose out of his books and stop playing around with his glass thingamajigs while his grandchildren are visiting.” Lillie knew exactly what Big Momma was talking about. A few times Mr. Dinsmore had invited her into the library to look at the different colored glass pieces displayed on his shelf. Cullet, he called it. Leftover glass from factories he’d worked at as a boy. Missus Dinsmore didn’t appreciate her husband’s glassmaking stories the way Lillie did.
I thanked Rebecca for helping me to instill more internalization in my story and she wrote back:
"I think calling it internalization isn't really correct because it is a very active connection with the protagonist--we are in her mind, trying to process the world, understand the why of things. That's where the story is for us, much less so than the actual stuff that happens."
Along with providing helpful insights into my manuscript, Rebecca encouraged me to read Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, retyping sections of other books in a similar genre, and reading when the Show, Don't Tell rule may be broken.
I have learned a great deal working with Rebecca from her critiques as I write, revise, and write again. (Here is a helpful handout from Teaching the Story that demonstrates the revision process.) Her suggestions reminded me of to Lorin Oberweger's handout on Deep Point of View that was part of the Your Best Book packet. And a recent post on Janice Hardy's blog, also offered excellent advice on how to include internalization in your story.
Since Rebecca is such a wonderful writing advocate and coach, she is providing this week's giveaway! She is donating either a ten-page critique of a middle grade or young adult manuscript, or a copy of Wired for Story-winner chooses. I am so pumped about Rebecca's giveaway offer, that I'm giving you TWO chances to win.
- Post this blog on your social media site of choice OR become a new follower of this blog and I'll enter your name once.
- Post this blog on two different social media sites, OR on one site on two different days, OR become a new follower of this blog AND post it on a social media site and I'll enter your name twice.
- Either way, leave a comment with your email address (if you are new to my blog) with what you did.
- Winner will be drawn on Saturday evening, February 16th- so get those entries in!