Monday, January 9, 2012

Damage Control- Chapter 3

It's been a while since I wrote anything for this blog regarding the story I'd been trying to publish forever. Every chance I get, I try to seek out an agent willing to represent me, but at the end of each run, I found myself in editing for a long time. This time has lasted a lot longer than I would have liked. I'd hardly gotten anything done and unless I manage to finish going through each chapter, rehashing them and whatnot within the next couple months, I feel like I'll never get a chance.
Well, they say that it's never too late for dreams to be realized, but in all seriousness, this is all I've really wanted to do. Writing fiction. The things I've written about have changed over the years. Recently, I'd been working out of romantasy land and going more for your typical young adult coming-of-age stories where friendship seems to be a reoccurring theme. There's no magic, no mythical creatures or good and evil. It's just a couple of people, one of them has a problem they have to solve and the other helps them through it. But these are some very real issues I'm addressing, aside from my run-of-the-mill story about a protagonist gaining confidence in themselves to achieve their main objective. The first story was about two girls, one was a leukemia patient and the other is the peripheral narrator (in the same school of thought as Nick Carraway of "The Great Gatsby") that helps her through it. The second story about the same narrator, but she's given an assignment to work her "bed-side manner" skills with a recovering drug addict who thinks everyone else has given up on him.

I'd been working so much on my other blog, which is pretty much repeating the same old nonsense every day. [fill in the blank] is awesome at what s/he does best, etc, etc. I have little that defines me aside from my celebrity and musical interests. Then there are times like with Jonas where I'm just crazy enough to believe I'll achieve something like so many other young adult sci-fi/fantasy writers have.

I've found myself in a pretty difficult place as of late. I'm in more of a hurry in trying to figure out how Jonas interacts with different characters, particularly hashing out his relationship with Mai, the gossip queen who has yet to figure anything about him. When he's with Nina, he makes light of the situation, but I will reveal in a couple chapters' time that Jonas really took issue with the rumors that weren't even close to hitting the mark.
One thing is for certain: Jonas is a different person with Nina than anyone else. Sometimes, especially lately, I consider that maybe he puts on an act for everyone else. Perhaps he might even be acting for Nina too, in essence that he pretends some things don't bother him when in fact they'd be working him over for years.

Geesh, I'm going to freak out every time the phone rings the next couple days. I'm somewhat expecting a call back about a part-time lab position at the local community college, something that I seem to be dreading now more than welcoming. When I got there for the interview, it seems that there was more to it than I ever bargained for. I really hate telephones sometimes.

Maybe I ought to make another conversation regarding some of these what-ifs. In the next chapter, Nina meets Jonas's guardian and learns a little more about the relationship they have. It's stable, but there are some rocky moments, particularly when Jonas showcases how sensitive he is about the fact he doesn't know what happened to his parents. Then as they head out to the stables, he just skates past the issue and puts his focus and attention on his three horses, the closest things he has to friends.
Nina isn't the type of person to press issues like that, but as I think about the way the next chapter runs, I have myself asking a lot of questions that amount to "why don't you want to talk about it"... then again, she does tell him that it doesn't matter what his background is and he has her complete support.
One thing I do kinda notice is that Nina is a little concerned about Jonas's home situation, which is a little odd for a high school freshman... that somewhat entails that she'd known a couple of people in her hometown that came from broken homes, maybe even one of her best friends (Wendy, Morgan or Brittany) was someone she had to help through some difficult times. It's like that questionnaire question I keep seeing these applications: when times are hard, your friends call you first

But this is about Chapter 3, this entry.
I went back to it for the first time since I quote/unquote "finished" it. The info says that it was last modified in November, so it's been close to two months. I've been questioning a lot of things about what I did in the chapter that I finally decided to go through it again.

Initially when I started the rewrites (for at least the 5th/6th time), I was afraid people would read my story and not "get" Jonas the way I did. I wrote a lot to somewhat solidify my view of him, shared by Nina (or otherwise, the story wouldn't go as well as it does). I proceeded to make one too many mistakes I simply couldn't overlook. Using the conveniences of Word, I red-"inked" a lot of superfluous language that really didn't need to be in there. One thing I tend to do A LOT is to make my protagonists a little too self-aware. Meaning that when I wrote the words connecting to the dialogue, giving them somewhat of a clairvoyance... meaning that the narration is saying what a character is thinking/feeling as if it could see into their minds. I can't really have that happening because, why else have a third-party narrator? It somewhat defeats the purpose and it allows the reader less imagination to really see the characters for what they are. I'd love for them to share my view of Jonas, but I'd prefer them to come to it on their own than me having to tell them through superfluous language.

The other error I found myself making a bunch of times was simply, I had to cut down my dialogue a little bit. The characters were sounding less like characters and more than an extension of my narration. You know the old saying "less is more." I found myself more at issue with Jonas saying a little too much, things that had less merit in this part of the story. The reason I found him so alluring and enchanting to begin with, as I did my inspirations for him, was that I knew very little about him and Nina knew very little. The magic is gone if he says a little too much or there's a little too much evidence supporting my position on him. That magic has to be there for my story to work or else I simply won't want to work on it anymore.

There are maybe two sections in this chapter I don't care too much for or am a little on edge about them being in there. Someone noted the lack of transition between the lunch room conversation and the one that takes place in Nina's yard. In between that, I wrote a little dialogue for Nina and her friends as well as the fact Nina had homework to do... which she got done with quicker than she expected. One might ask "why the hell was that in the story"... there needed to be a transition and I'm a little too set in my ways to want to start a completely new chapter just for the second conversation that takes place.
The other thing, which I'm a little on edge about, is the fact Jonas openly confesses (in the best way he can) that he can read minds. Mind you, this is long between Edward Cullen even existed, so I'm really hoping nobody comes after me and says I'm stealing... not that anyone would care that I'd be stealing anything from "Twilight." The majority of the readers' community believes that its more or less worthless or simply an act against conventions, etc, etc.

Yet my take on this issue is very similar to something Stephenie Meyer said regarding Edward and Jacob. Edward couldn't openly tell Bella that he was a vampire so Jacob was created initally as a vehicle to deliver that bit of information to Bella. That confession is against Edward's character so someone else had to take care of that for him.

I don't know, maybe it does work in my case. Edward spent his eternal life denying and fighting against what he had become and his family is apt to secrecy of their true existence. That makes sense in his case.
Jonas, on the other hand, had also spent a great deal of his life denying what he's truly like. He keeps himself away from people because he doesn't know if he'll lose control of these unusual powers he'd been gifted with. Why is Jonas psychic? It was a damn good excuse for him to want to keep to himself, much better than my reasons... honest to God shyness. Plus I'd always found the idea of a psychic to be an intriguing one, the ability to read minds and use telekinesis. It's still something that kinda fascinates me to this day.

Here's the deal: Jonas has kept to himself for years. Only his "uncle" (for all intensive purposes) and his animal companions know about his secret. All the teachers and personnel at the school really know is that he has prone to regular absences during the rainy season. I haven't quite worked out if they know that he gets struck by lightening, which can leave him in a coma for a couple days at a time. Despite all of that, he manages to maintain straight A's... go figure. No wonder Mai's so interested in knowing more about him with the stuff he's gotten away with.

The only thing that doesn't quite make sense there is that, well... at school, there are group activities all the time. I seem to be putting myself, as the writer, under the impression that Jonas surpassed all group activities for whatever reason. It's probable that, oddly enough, his "sick" days took place during these group sessions, but as I remember it, group activities were somewhat of a regular thing, at least once a week. Anyone else would have been pressured or forced into becoming part of a group. I know I was, lol
I still have a few things to figure out on that.

But... Jonas hides what he is from people, but does that mean he's accepted that he's potentially a liability to anyone who gets too close to him? I think he has accepted his self-imposed solitude/exile/isolation. Despite all of the safeguards he's surrounded himself with for these years, they're a non-issue when it comes to Nina. For whatever reason (which I discern later to the fact they are literally soulmates and part of him that was missing [somehow] when he was born again is within her), he founds solace in Nina's very presence, so he's much more comfortable with himself around him.
Inevitably, I find the saving grace in the situation, despite my belief that maybe it's against his character to do so, is that once Jonas and Nina are alone, only then does he start confessing all of these secrets to her. He only can reveal his true self, his true disposition when he knows that nobody else is watching. Ultimately, that keeps the mystery of him and rumors about him going... at least until a couple other things go down.

Going into this latest round of rewrites, I wanted to be sure to do a little more character development on everyone else but the main protagonists. But sometimes I found myself wondering what kind of person Nina was before she met Jonas. Her support for him suggests that she'd be the rock for a lot of people she'd befriended over the years, she's noted for being a good listener. Hmm... she seems to be a less high-strung, less dramatic version of my peripheral narrator, Casey Carlton, who definitely shows those colors in the last story I wrote about her and the recovering drug addict.

Jonas is very much hashed out at this point and I only need to work on his relationships with some of the other main characters.
Nina is always going to be on the table regarding adding more to her character, just to make her a little less generic, although my goal was to make her relatable to the girls reading the story. I more or less spent the first chapter working on her character.
Chapter 2 was about getting to know Mai and her friends. Bonnie, Marcie and Rachel have gotten defined a little bit more this time around. What I originally had in mind were three girls that were like Mai's loyal followers with no defining characteristics; much like in one of my animé where the heroine has three girlfriends that all look very similar (the school uniforms and the black hair shared by all of them helps boost the allusion).

Well, I lost maybe 200 words in this last rehash, but I do feel a lot better after taking care of some of the details. Maybe later today I can finally get around to working on Chapter 4.
But sometime today, pending a important phone call, I might be able to find time to rewatch my greatest source of inspiration for this story: Miyazaki's "Spirited Away"
Hopefully it doesn't follow the trend of a previous incident and after enjoying the movie, I get the phone call and it kills my whole mood.
That happened a number of years ago during my first spring semester of college. I'd been IMing this guy from my school I met through Facebook. He called off our time to meet, I watched the movie and he asked if I was up for it. It turned out to be one of the worst nights of my life. It's part of the reason it took me a while to write that semester... it was so difficult to believe in the relationships I was writing about when I couldn't even find comfort in being alone with one person. But then again, it was the first/only time we met in person, going to his apartment, so it'd be enough to rattle anyone who doesn't do that often.
And for the record, nothing happened. I'm just being a drama queen about a pretty regular, every day situation. I'm just not the type of person who likes to be in close promixity with another person I'd only just met in person a couple minutes previous.

Yep, years later and I'm still not over that.

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