Thursday, September 14, 2006

who are these people in my story?

Well, I haven’t been all that successful with the pre-dawn writing commitment ala William Stafford. Guess I’ll never amount to Laureate status. Sigh. Kick. Sigh.

But. I have plunged back into Underground. The trouble with the way I was handling re-engagement previously was that I couldn’t pick up the emotional connection to the thread that I’d had before “cheating” on Underground with Unkiss Me. So I decided to revisit the beginning, and that’s when I reconnected.

Turns out I learned a bit more about my characters’ motivations since I’d initially slapped down the conceit. Also, I know more about what happens to the characters. Much more. It was refreshing to begin anew with all that information. My first chapter opens with a character named Farrell, who is the youngest of four sisters. The novel opens with italicized backstory. Farrell’s musings on her father’s heartbreak and her oldest sister’s part in the broken heart. The novel proper, however, begins with a phone call from one of Farrell’s sisters, announcing the death of their father, an end-stage alcoholic.

I remember the first time I brought this piece to workshop, around a year ago, the universal comments were about the lack of emotional reportage. It was hard to know how Farrell felt learning of her father’s death. Clearly, there is ambivalence, but there weren’t enough on-the-body close-ups to demonstrate the ambivalence in a visceral way.

There are five first-person points of view in this book. Five voices to consistify. In addition to voice, there are ways of being I have to begin to nail. Tics, objects, movement, cadence, all that sort of stuff. Inventing characters truly appeals to the schizophrenic in me! Perhaps instead of time or page count, I should make my goals a bit more abstract. Say, by next week I want to know what Sarah (the oldest sister) would choose at a salad bar. When was the last time she had her teeth cleaned? What movies does she like. You know what that means….they’re getting blog profiles!