November? November? Where’s November? Wait, it passed already? Did I write in November? *peeks in document* Hey, a new chapter!
We’re doing something a little different this month. Even though I wrote, and wrote a major turning point in the novel at that, I didn’t really have any epiphanies, or major learning curves, or “Hey, look at what I’m suddenly doing with ease!” moments, or anything like that. Instead, I’m going to be talking about all the things I’ve already noticed so far that I have to fix.
But first, a commercial – I mean excerpt – break.
Volcor’s eyes seemed to dig into Antreo as he looked him over in narrow-eyed scrutiny.
‘Hmm. I was not aware you had returned.’
‘I believe matters of formality can be temporarily put aside for life and death situations,’ Antreo responded, slightly nettled.
Volcor’s eyes narrowed even farther until his eyes could not be seen beyond the slits made by his eyelids. ‘Headstrong as ever, I see.’
‘Just concerned for my father.’
Antreo pressed his father’s hand, which lay thin and white on the covers and strode to the door before turning around. ‘Uncle?’
Volcor raised his eyebrows.
‘I have returned.’
Okay, major problem number one. There’s too much focus on events, and not enough on emotions. Now, this is normal for first drafts for me, but still something that needs to be fixed. I mean, you know there’s an issue when the MC’s father is dying, but the narrative focuses more on the goings-on than the MC’s feelings about it. And the feelings you do see…are really only the surface.
Antreo picked at a tassle on the bedspread. ‘And Father didn’t stop him?’
‘He’s never been able to stop him, you know that. Uncle’s always run circles around him,’ Atharielle sighed. ‘The whole atmosphere has changed, how or when I cannot say. Maybe I just didn’t notice it as a child. It’s so dark, so oppressive, Trey. I find myself looking behind me for no reason at all and jumping at shadows.
‘The history books say that Nalycia used to be a country of joy, with music flowing from every house and everyone’s lips. Did you notice the silence? It’s not just because of Father. All that’s left of the sound that used to fill the land is the wail of mourning songs. Nalycia’s lost her music, Trey.’
Problem two: contradictions. There’s two kinds of these. The first is when a character doesn’t know the reason for something on one page, and then magically knows is by the next. The other is when the narrative either ignores or blatantly contradicts the worldbuilding I’ve done. Oops.
Antreo threw down the book with a cry. What was he to do? If he pretended to be a fool to save his skin now, would not he face death when an heir was born to his uncle? Wouldn’t it be better to die having tried to make a difference?
Problem three: flat characters. A typical problem until I can write a draft and get used to the characters, but a problem nonetheless.
Antreo slumped against the doorpost, his heart aching. How could he have done it? Charade or no charade, hurting Ree was unnecessary.[…] One part of him sarcastically responded that she had always insisted that she experience what the rest of the people did. If Antreo was going to hurt the people, he needn’t be so sensitive about hurting her. Yet he knew that was wrong.
He made his way slowly to her door and tapped on it, intending to apologize. Atharielle opened the door, her expression steely.
‘Yes?’ she asked, icicles seeming to drip from the single word.
Antreo’s resolve melted, and he merely extended his arm. ‘May I walk you down?’
And finally the fourth problem. My descriptiveness is failing! Time to step back, take a deep breath, and DESCRIBE!
Antreo turned his head slightly and caught Laird Phiad watching him closely. He realized self-consciously that he was walking with an athletic stride, and changed his gait to a mincing step.
‘Did you step on something?’ his sister hissed.
Antreo abandoned the mince and tried shorter steps with less arm movement. He covertly glanced back at Phiad to see if he was walking in the same manner, only to fall out of step when his heart skipped a beat at the sight of the other’s raised eyebrow.
I suppose if I have all that to fix, my beloved wordcount will go up. Yes, I’m obsessed with wordcount, if you couldn’t tell.
Here’s to December, and hopefully some as-I-write improvements!