What it comes down to is every bit of free time these past few days has been dedicated to writing whether it is this blog, my short story that I'm working on, or my novel Summer's Hollow. Yesterday I had a huge breakthrough in Summer's Hollow and am happy to say that I'm over a third of the way done with the final tweaks to it. For those of you who don't know, I've been working on this horror novel for about 7 years which in itself is an issue. See the fact is I started writing this novel when I was in high school after I was inspired by reading The Scarlet Letter. Spending 7 years on the same novel (even though it was put on hold during college for the most part) is a challenge as your literary style grows and changes.
Thankfully I had an awesome editor in Rosa Sophia who was great at really telling me where my problem areas were and unfortunately there were a lot. Once again I started writing it when I was a teenager so there were some issues in that itself. For example the main problem were my characters. I had spent so long trying to get the mythology and mechanics behind the plot correct that I had neglected my characters. The fact of the matter was I didn't particularly have any connection to my characters and if I didn't the reader most certainly wouldn't.
So after I received my edits from my editor back in October I took what she said to heart but decided it was best if I just set it aside for a little bit. For me I can't force my writing. If I force it than that's what parts are neglected. Over the past couple of months I've glances at it every now and then, wrote some supplemental pieces such as conversations with my main characters, etc. In that process I realized something else: my main character was the teenage version of me. As much as, when I started writing Rylie into the story seven years ago, I didn't want her to be, she was.
At the start I had her as this really strong female character that took charge and knew what to do in the situation of the town be ransacked by the spirit. Well that was neither believable or really all that interesting. Rylie just wasn't real enough and neither were the other characters who were just going along with this charade. So now I am going back through the book and writing her as if it were me facing this situation and the people around me were reacting to it as well. In the process I have realized that I painted Rylie to be this nerd turned cool kid but what she needed to stay was that nerd. That's what I have done. I wrote a new passage yesterday that I think pretty much summed up my character (of course with a Whedon reference thrown in):
Everyone had reached the porch, and they all began to turn on their flashlights. The foyer was suddenly illuminated by six yellow beams. The floor was thick with dust and littered with the bones of long-dead rats. They each held their breath and stepped inside after Brian. Rylie gripped Josh’s hand tighter and Andy scowled behind them.
After they stepped inside, Rylie expected the door to blow shut like in any typical horror flick but it just rocked slightly on its hinges. This unnerved Rylie even more as she shivered in fright and quickly closed it behind them. Josh whispered her name and she caught back up to the others. They made their way out of the foyer and into a hallway, which seemed to lead to the kitchen.
“We made it in,” Josh whispered. “That’s got to count for something, right?"
“Yeah, but now what?” Andy asked. “What are we looking for? Because I want to find it and get out.”
“I second that,” Alec whispered, “Honestly don’t know why you all dragged me here just because Buffy here seems to think she let out some spirit on the town.”
Josh shot Alec a look as if he had coached them before they came here not to say anything to Rylie. It was obvious that none of them besides maybe Brian and Josh actually wanted to be here. She just pushed passed them annoyed and walked in front of them down the hallway.
Much better right? Well I guess no one but my editor has seen the original scene but let's just say it wasn't believable. The way it was originally set up they just blindly followed Rylie in as she made her way to figure out why she was drawn to this house.
Not only are my characters more believable and relatable but I actually am in love with them for the first time since starting to write the book. Now of course I always liked them but never felt a strong connection to them. As of today I can't wait to jump back in and explore more along with Rylie, Josh, Andy, and the others. They are now my friends and I can't wait until they get to be yours at the end of May when Summer's Hollow is published!