Saturday, February 23, 2013

Writing Celia

LitD began as a vivid dream I had when I was very, albeit temporarily, sick.  Some of my own situation bled into the dream, which was where the initial ideas of the Society and (especially) the Woods occured.  I don't want to give the impression that LitD is  based on my dream; only that my dream was the inspiration for it.  If I had simply recorded my dream, LitD wouldn't be complete unless I included the iridescent truffle-smelling pigs.  I hate to disappoint, but there are no glow-in-the-dark neon swine in LitD.  Sorry.  Yeah, I'm a little disappointed about that, too.

Last night was the first time I revisited Chapter One after writing it in December.  LitD began as an idea, without character or depth, just a driving force.  When I started writing, I needed to develop Celia before I could propel her into this world I created.  Having completed my first draft of LitD, I now know exactly who Celia is.  She's no longer a vessel for the plot but her own person.  And that's good, because when I read for pleasure, I read for characters.  Don't get me wrong; I love a good plot (and LitD has one, even if I do say so myself).  But a good character - that's a beautiful thing!  This is why Jane Eyre is so fascinating.  Let's face it, the second third of Bronte's novel isn't exactly riveting but it's all Jane.  Tess?  Despite everything he does to push her over the edge, Hardy must be in love with her.  I loved Tess of the D'Urbervilles because of Tess.  I needed to love Celia, too.  

She grew on me as I wrote her and deleted her and wrote her and deleted her...again.  The fact that Celia took Art I as a senior in high school because she couldn't fit more core academics into her schedule?  Delete.  It's not important.  I mean, it is, because it's who Celia is and it's part of her past, but it's not because in the grand scheme of things, no one cares.  Twenty years down the road will anyone care if you took Art I in high school?  Probably not. (Just for the record, I admire the arts and all things art.)

So this was how I wrote Celia.  Because LitD started with a dream, I had merely vague impressions of who Celia would be.  I knew what needed to happen to her and  I knew what I wanted her to be, but I didn't know who she would be.  The very rough draft of my first chapter was more a list of all things Celia than an actual story.  It was *not* something that would impress agents or readers.  I stripped 3,000 words describing Celia from my first chapter.  3,000 words.  That's a lot of Celia.

Now, without me telling you boring details of how she lost her first kitten (that wasn't in there, by the way), the first chapter will allow Celia to stand out in her own right, as her own person.  I don't have to tell you about Celia's past and preferences.  She'll tell you herself.