Sunday, January 30, 2011

Inventing Anna

Originally, my main character had a single best friend named Julie. She was based on one friend, ended up with the sense of humor of another and was actually the first character that I wrote in an early draft of the third chapter. Then I realized that if I wanted to use her in all of the capacities that I needed, she would be billed as an inconsistent character.

Now, I do approve of inconsistent characters under circumstances, such as a personality disorder or willful deception, but that doesn't fit Julie. I realized at that point that I needed someone to take hold of her other personality and that became Anna. She was based on a girl I first met in my 4th grade math class who had one of the strongest personalities I've ever known. Both fierce and stalwart.

So, both of my readers so far have mentioned that I need to differentiate Anna and Julie more. I believe that it's because in the early chapters they were the same. The process of fleshing them out has been like knowing a family and then getting to know the individual members of the family.

The problem with finding this divisive line is working out how much of a contrast to make. If I make Anna too different, she becomes someone with whom Ella would not want to associate. If she gets much closer, she blends into Julie once more.

So far, the major distinction comes just before Chapter 14, when there is a major argument. Julie and Anna handle it so differently that I'm not sure I see in that scene why they're friends at all. I like that bit because really it's something we've all gone through, so it was the first time that Anna and Julie were really profoundly realistic to me.

In other news, my boss has an interesting rule that has been making life difficult. I work somewhat indirectly for the United States Postal Service and we are expected to make each call average 3 minutes and 3 seconds. If we do not have that average, we are not allowed to do anything between calls. I think I have been setting personal records just because I bring my manuscript to work on. I have all 325 pages in a purple bandana-print binder that I found a few years ago and I have several red pens tucked into the pencil holder inside. So far, there are mostly scribbled additions to dialogue or strike-throughs over words. It's very therapeutic. Plus on occasion, my security guard whom I have befriended and I were trading quotes that we like. When I couldn't remember the exact wording of Part 2's header (the quote from Rudyard Kipling), I opened my binder, flipped to the quote and read it. Plus, it gives me a reassurance that I'm doing something more than sitting around waiting for query responses.

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