My husband and I have been at the beach for a week. Every morning I have been reading and editing the first draft of The Next Novel. Some days I was pleased, other days the verdict was more “Hummm.” The last pages, which I read yesterday, made me shed a few tears (always a good sign). All in all, I think it’s a good first draft, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and dig in.
There is one character (Wig-Girl) who puzzles me, an invented character I haven’t figured out yet. (Most of the other characters in the novel are based in history.) She popped into the story early on. I like her, but I’m not sure what she’s doing there. While writing the first draft, I kept trying her out in various roles: as a maid to the dying mother, as a romantic interest of the heroine’s brother. None of these really worked, and so I’ll cut those scenes, but it was amusing (and surprising!) to see her pop up and then disappear, only to pop up yet again in another guise entirely. It’s as if I was auditioning her, trying her out.
Today I’ll have another look at my character notes, and especially at the notes I took from Christopher Vogler’s wonderful book, The Writer’s Journey, on the basic characters that are typically part of any story. (I’ve put my notes on Docs, here—or here, at: http://bit.ly/5uqIA7.)
How does Wig-Girl fit in? What’s her role? I’ve never followed Vogler’s template closely, but I do love it, and I find it helps clarify characters and their purpose, their function in the story. It’s one of my favorite books on writing.