What Am I Doing

I’m revising.

I’ve been kinda out of touch with everyone everywhere for a while now.  I’ve been trying to develop my own, personal process for revising and I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with it.

This past weekend, Audrey and I flew to Chicago to go see the Houston Texans (our team) play the Chicago Bears.  It was awesome.  Cold, wet, and miserable but awesome.

On the trip to and from Chicago, I was reading Swain’s Techniques book. And I had some revelations.

First off, the story in my logline/story sentence wasn’t QUITE the story I had written.

In my logline, I’ve got a Princess who discovers her inner Napoleon, gathers up some cut-throats and whatnot, and forges a navy to fight to regain her throne. What I actually wrote is a Princess who is already in touch with her inner Napoleon, who regroups her nation’s navy, and fights to regain her throne.

I feel the logline is stronger than the actual story because it shows her maturing over the course of the story. I need to change my story so that I show that maturation. And I need to put her into some situations where she’s having to deal with and control actual pirates and not just a bunch of gentlemen willing to do her bidding because of who she is.  She’s got to prove some things.

Secondly and thirdly, I didn’t really force my heroine into a hard moral choice and her story goal doesn’t come up immediately.

In what I wrote, as soon as she discovers that her father and brothers have been killed in a coup (which she learns a couple of chapters into the book), she’s automatically focused on going home, fighting the usurper, winning back her throne and being crowned Queen of Balthazar. The book, right now, starts with a mystery about her room-mate’s assassination: who did it, how did they do it, and why did they do it. It’s actually a mistake/red herring because the assassin meant to kill Alicia.

Swain brought up excellent points, though, about how to create a satisfying ending and they got me thinking. And applying Holly’s NOT technique.  What have I come up with so far?

Alicia doesn’t want to be the Queen of Balthazar. She wants to run away. She wants to live a carefree life without any responsibility. At the beginning of the story, she doesn’t want to be married off as some political pawn to some boring nobleman she has no feelings for. She doesn’t want to have to be all prim and proper like they’re trying to teach her at the finishing school in which she’s incarcerated. She wants to party. And she’s got a bad reputation for that. She is a Paris Hilton or a Lindsay Lohan.

So at the beginning of the story, she’s trying to find ways to shuck her duties as a princess and go out and have fun. The assassination attempt forces her into her Grandmother’s ambitious hands and Alicia runs away. By running away, she’s forced into situations where she has to take on more and more responsibility and her planning skills, which she has previously only used for parties, pranks, and escaping her bodyguards, turn to battle and strategy. She gets captured by pirates and has to take control of their ship to save herself and her friends. Then through a series of misadventures, she becomes a Pirate Princess and one ship becomes a fleet. The usurper sees her as a threat and he goes after her, which forces her to fight back.

In the end, she’s got to make a choice between taking her ships and sailing off into the sunset or becoming Queen of Balthazar. And she has to choose to be responsible. Even if it means taking her mother down. Or maybe, because it means taking her mother down and foiling her Grandmother’s plots.

So.  That’s what I’ve been doing.

And preparing to move.  We’re moving on the 26th to a smaller place.


4 Responses to “What Am I Doing”

  1. Your new plot sounds much, much better. Having her mature over the course of the story is a much more engaging tale. The story she lives through forces her to make choices and grow up, and become a heroine in her own right. Because she earned it. Great.

  2. thepencilneck Says:

    It fits in with what Swain said about forcing the protag into a situation where they have to make a moral decision that involves them making some sort of sacrifice to do the right thing. And it allows me to really introduce the story question (which is something along the lines of: Will she accept the responsibility she inherits or will she follow a hedonistic path?) right at the outset of the story from the very first scene.

    BUT.. Swain also says to trim all the extraneous stuff from your story. And this is making me wonder about some of the subplots I’ve set up. Are they things I need to know happened but don’t need to show the reader? Or do they add to the richness of the read?

    But right now, I’m just concentrating on Alicia’s main plot. I’ve got the story pretty much hammered out to almost the 3/4 mark. I’ve still got to bring it all together to a climax.

  3. It sounds like you’re really close to getting this story to where you want it! Inner conflict seems to be one of the trickiest, but at the same time most rewarding, aspects of telling a good story. I’m glad to see that you’re incorporating it.
    I might have to check out this Swain book you write of. 🙂

    And, go Bears! (I’m from the Chicago area. 😉 )

  4. Sounds like great progress. From Paris Hilton to Catherine the Great? Dig it!

    Subplots, if they support your theme, are not extraneous. And by support, I also mean if they force the reader to take on the argument against your theme and still find your theme to be valid.

    I can see the allure of moving to a smaller place. Sometimes the upkeep on this pile scares the pudding out of me. However, there are seven of us, so downsizing is out of the question. :)TX

    PS: glad to see you’re posting again.

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