Monday, October 3, 2011

Chapter 3 difficulties and pitfalls

I'm having trouble even getting this entry started. That's how bad my writer's block has been during the past day or so.
Although I wouldn't necessarily call it writer's block, but I definitely feel blocked to a certain capacity.

A lot of stuff goes down in this chapter and I'm finding as I'm going through the editing process, explaining myself in places I ought to and not to, that I might be coming face to face with one of my greatest fears.
Must be really bad because I'm having difficulty typing this and I was just typing away earlier when I had nothing I directly had to cover.
I can feel my fingers and my brain tensing up, but it is rather cold up here today.

I have been deftly afraid that one time I'm going to edit my story to the point its no longer going to resemble the first couple drafts. The magic is going to completely disappear and I will have reeked so much damage that I can't recover from it.

A lot of things go down in this chapter, which is really starting to become a monster. On my document that contains all three existing drafts of it, its taking up 4 of them... at least up to the point I stopped rewriting.
But that's nothing compared to the word count. I haven't even finished the chapter and I'm already up to 2,000+ words, my count for the entire chapter in the previous draft

I think what my problem is is that I'm taking too much of the reader's opinion into account. What is the reader going to take away from it? What impression do I want to give up?

I caught a redundancy in the previous draft that I started to fix... and that is part of the monster I'm dealing with. I'm trying to differentiate just where I want the focus of this chapter to be.

Here's the story so far:
we have the mystical, mysterious prologue in which good battles evil. Evil is defeated and good must sacrifice himself for the world's future

Chapter 1
Nina and her parents arrive at their new house. She hears a voice in the wind that ushers her inside, away from the thunderstorm about to take place.

Chapter 2
Nina has her first day at a new school. In homeroom, she makes friends with Mai and her posse of popular girls. They invite her to try out for cheerleading with them and make plans to meet after school. Nina arrives at lunch, inexplicably bumping into Jonas, leaving her blind and without any balance. He takes her to the nurse, strokes her forehead affectionately before leaving.

Because there was a little discrepancy, I moved Nina's next journal entry to the beginning of chapter 3. Going through the day's events in her eyes and pretty much explaining what she woke up to.
She's in her own bed, it's around 4-5pm, and she has her sight and center of gravity back. And through her words, we see that she was grateful to Jonas for his actions and expresses desire to see him for herself.

Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle that I want people that walk away from this chapter with is that I want them to be fascinated by Jonas. They want to know more about him. His dialogue seems to be in line after my most recent edit, but I still have my concerns.
After all, this is the chapter where he is officially introduced, complete with a physical description and everything.

The synposis of this chapter is as follows after the journal entry:

Mai and her friends ask Nina about what happened with Jonas the other day. Mai discusses Jonas in however many details as she can manage: he keeps to himself and his actions yesterday, i.e. his concern for helping Nina to the nurse, were contrary to his usual behavior.
Nina meets Jonas officially at lunch, they talk for a few minutes, take care of the usual introductions, although both parties know each others' names without being told by the other person.
After school, he comes to her house, goes into some personal details about himself and invites her to spend the weekend with him (as he lives on the other side of the woods). And her parents make comments about him (all positive) upon seeing the two of them together in the front yard.

My greatest concern lies on the emphasis being placed in the wrong places. I certainly don't want people to come away from reading the chapter having no interest in getting to know Jonas at all. They have to like him in order to stay with the rest of the story.
His dialogue seems to be fine and after editing out some of the descriptive narration, that part of the chapter seems to be fine now.

I wouldn't mind having the chance to use this chapter as a way to establish characterization from a few different angles before we see Jonas through the narration rather than word of mouth.
I have alluded, but never really took charge of the fact, that Mai is a gossip queen. She simply has to know everything about her peers, which is why Jonas boggles her mind so much. Him being a loner is something she'd harped about several times and I started to panic that it was getting to be too much.

As the story progresses, not only do the rumors stop flying, but Mai and Jonas become friendly towards one another. Right now, it's hard to see that happening. Between a couple of statements from Nina and extra narration (some of which I'd already taken out), I make her out to be a very unlikable character.
I would like for Nina to be innocent about all this, not really taking an aggressive standpoint towards the slander in the school newspaper until the weekend is over (I cover this in chapter 7 or 8, I believe).

I wrote a few bits of narration when Nina meets Jonas that I had to take out. The picture I had in my mind of him was starting to alter. One particular passage that had me thinking for 10 minutes until I had to go back upstairs to change it: for a split second, I paint Jonas with the same brush Mai perceives him... I wrote that he ended his conversation with Nina after speaking a couple sentences, as if withdrawing into himself again, quickly followed by Nina observing his walls coming down.

That's the kind of thing I really can't allow to mug up my story.
Nina is different because Jonas is able to talk to her with ease. It's something he can't expect, but there's something about her that allows him to trust her. Therefore, the two of them have a special bond of full disclosure. Otherwise, it wouldn't make sense for him to reveal that he talks to his pets (that he ID's as his only companions) and that he has psychic abilities, the very reason he keeps away from people.

In his case, less is more and I'd like to slowly draw out how the audience (and Nina) see(s) him.

I must have filled an entire page with Mai being intent on getting all of the details about Jonas, really harping on how he's so different, but I had to cut most of that out. It just doesn't make sense, plus it would warp the perceptions of the audience to go against him rather than being for him.
I also wouldn't want Nina to seem overprotective of him way before she even meets him. That would be unrealistic.

I have to be careful with certain bits of dialogue and description because a Twi-hard (or hater) could read it and say that I stole my characterization from another work.
Let the record show that I draft "Jonas" a good 2 years before Stephenie Meyer dreamt about Edward Cullen and I didn't even know of that character until mid-late 2007.

As much as I want to go back, I want to keep some distance from my material because I might grow to really hate it or even worse,  muck the whole thing up with extra details that have no place here.

My baseline requires are that the following scenes take place. And the following things are emphasized:

Mai thinks of Jonas as unusual, abnormal and different, dying to know more about him
Nina is fascinated by Jonas and wants to get to know him.
Jonas is interested in having Nina as a friend because she has something about her he feels he can trust, something he never had before. It's enough that he wants to come out of his shell and let her into his most closely-kept secrets

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