Thursday, August 22, 2013
A few weeks ago, I hit a sticking point in my WIP. The first scene in chapter one wasn’t working. I’d have left it as is and worked on the rest of the story, except I’m down to fine tuning and every detail counts at this point. I was beyond frustrated.
I knew I needed to make the main character more sympathetic and show her emotions more strongly. But even after I achieved that, the chapter still didn’t work—and neither did my next three attempts. Worse yet, I felt like I was now loosing my main character's voice as well.
Then—after some massive brainstorming with CPs and my patient agent—I realized that the changes I’d done had made it easier for a reader to relate to the main character, but they weren’t what made her stand out from other teens. That lack of uniqueness was what had caused her voice to vanish and made the narrator’s voice come to the forefront.
So I began thinking about what makes her unique.
It’s not just her fondness for creating jewelry (which was one of my beginnings that almost worked) or the infomercial job that she hates (that was another beginning that didn’t quite make it). It’s that she makes jewelry out of junks and antiques she finds at auctions and flea markets. Therefore, my main character’s normal world is one where she stands out because she’d rather run into a flea market for something she needs than head to the closest Wal-Mart.
Once I realized this, it didn’t take me more than a few minutes to find a way to connect her love of scrounging to the best of the failed beginnings.
Maybe I have the perfect beginning. Maybe it still needs work. But, no matter what, finding her uniqueness restored the story’s voice and gave me a place to start that feels grounded and real.