My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘changes’

Critiques and Other Things

The first chapter of Lady of the Snow was reviewed last night by my local critique group.

And….they LOVED it. I mean, they hardly had any comments on it. That’s seriously a first for me. Even though there were only four of us last night, the opinion was pretty unanimous–that my first chapter achieved exactly what a first chapter should: it made them want to read more.

There were some issues with it, mainly grammatical (what a suprise 😛 Grammar is the bane of my existence) and a few places where I could make things a little clearer. But nothing major. (BTW, I changed my chapter a little from the excerpts I posted–mainly, I switched it over to third person, which I think flows better and is more natural for me).

However, from their comments, I have a little changing I’m going to need to do for the book. I’m realizing that the current plan I had probably won’t work so well. I initially planned on going back in time after my first chapter to show how she developed into the Yuki-onna. But I realized that may be a little too much of an abrupt shift–from going to her being this mythical monster to being a normal human 300 years prior.

So, that first part will mainly be backstory fodder; much of it may come out in flashbacks. And I’m going to have to learn how to do a good flashback. Not sure it will work making it go back and forth between two distinct time periods; you really have to master the craft so as not to confuse the reader (or irritate them!). Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a great example of switching between two time periods without that confusion. He was able to switch back seamlessly–something I don’t think I’m quite comfortable doing just yet–at least at the level I’m at in my writing.

So it’s back to the drawing board for the book summaries, as well as some of the character bios. It’s nothing too major–in fact I may try writing it the way I originally thought and then use some of that in flashback sequences.

For now, I’m just happy that I actually wrote a compelling first chapter–something that I always struggle to do 🙂

Lost Along the Way

I’ve just realized that I got lost.

What do I mean? Well, I’m lost in planning my novel. It’s evolved so much since the initial “first” draft of NaNo 2007. I didn’t plan on looking over the earlier part of my first draft until I was completely done. In reality, I’ve had to go back and “redo” the chapters for critique. And that’s where I became completely disoriented with my surroundings.

The last few times I’ve been up for critique, I’ve completely nixed a chapter and wrote one from scratch instead. I saw a better direction for the story. However, because of the new chapters, it’s completely taken me off the previous path. The road is now lost amongst the bramble.

I’m scrapping most of what I’ve written from earlier because as I go through to see what chapter comes next for critique, I realize that it’s evolved from earlier on and doesn’t follow the story that I’ve set up for my group. So, I’m pretty much cranking out second “first draft” chapters.

Frustrating much? Yeah.

Oh and all my chapters are completely out of order numerically, at least in the “master” draft. It’s becoming quite confusing and a bit daunting trying to figure out what comes next, since I’ve really diverged from the initial.

It’s like staring at a map and realizing that instead of driving through Kentucky to get to Florida, you’re now an entire state over in West Virginia. Still traveling to the same place but on a completely different road. And now you’re trying to figure out this new path so you don’t end up in Maine.

(I’m horrible at analogies but that’s the best I could come up with) 😛

There are aspects of the original that I’m still using but I have to search for those, since most of the stuff is new or is being presented differently.

So I’ve figured out I need to re-map the beginning and develop at least a working summary so I’m not spending hours searching for the place I stopped at during critique. Part of me wonders if I should stop submitting for critique, at least temporarily, since this is all being worked on and redone.  It stands to reason that if me, the writer, is confused, that will be translated to my group. I don’t want that!

On the postive side, I at least have a slight idea  which new route to take. So my  first draft is now a “second” first draft. Of sorts. 😛

It’s time to sit down and map out  the new path so I’m no longer lost!

The Pitfalls of Historical Fiction

Historical fiction can be incredibly hard to write and master, as I’ve recently discovered. You may have an idea or storyline and then realize that historically, it’s not accurate.

I discovered this last night.

No, it wasn’t at my critique session–that went remarkably well actually–but it was after I came home and decided to do a little research reading. I picked up my copy of Confessions of a Yakuza, a memoir of sorts about a yakuza boss pre-WWII. This has been the only book thus far that’s given me any idea of what the yakuza were like before the movie stereotype of loan sharking, drug lords in modern Japan. Pre WWII, they were mainly (if not solely) focused on gambling as their main way of operating (there were two types of yakuza, the bakuto, who were the gamblers, and the tekiya, who did more peddling/scamming type things).

I realized reading further into the book that it would be highly unlikely, if not impossible, for my MC’s American mother to have EVER crossed paths with a yakuza member.

Initially, I thought that they would meet because of the “front business” (which would have been real estate). But reading further into the book, I discovered that these gangs had only the pretense of a front business (the gang in Confessions used theater props in their store fronts as they were pretending to be a business of making these props) but wouldn’t have actually been involved in that market.

I also highly doubt my MC’s American grandfather would have been allowed at said establishment.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t consider all of this before. I suppose I got caught up in the modern image of the yakuza before I did my research (major bluff on my part). But now I need to come up with a slightly different plot line.

There are a few different ways I can approach it:

  1. Kaiyo’s father is no longer a yakuza boss but someone high up in politics. He would be close to the foreign minister Ōkuma Shigenobu, who was nearly assassinated in 1889 because of his position with the unequal treaty revision plan (basically, he was a foreign/Western supporter and the Genyosha, an ultranationalist terrorist group, used members of organized crime to terrorize foreigners and liberal politicians). If her father is among this group, they could use Kaiyo as leverage against him to sway his power and position towards their more ultranationalist leanings. I would also use an actual historical figure, Toyama Mitsuru, who was a leader of this terrorist group, as a major character (or at least the power behind the other antagonist). The yakuza would still be involved, though her father would not be part of this.
  2. Kaiyo would not be half American and half Japanese. This would be a major change as part of the story is her struggling to find her identity. However, if I were to change this, her father could still be a yakuza boss and her mother could’ve been someone involved with him. Kaiyo, however, would have never known her and perhaps she is raised by a Western missionary couple instead. The conflict would then be that though she is full blood Japanese, she acts more Western and hardly knows her culture because of how she was raised. This would be an interesting storyline (and would be fairly similar to the whole “fish out of water” storyline I currently have going, only that she would be fully Japanese, but only in looks) 

So I have some decisions to make. I won’t have to start over or anything, but I would have to change a few plot angles to make it flow better. I’ll still be able to write the ending this weekend like I planned on doing–it hasn’t changed that at all.

Ah, such is the life of a historical fiction novel: always changing and evolving especially when research suggests another path to take.

Anyway, if you’ve been patient enough to read this, which story angle–#1 or #2–sounds better or more appealing/plausible?

Change Over Complete!

Here’s my new blog–the same format as the other only with a different URL and blog title.

Awaiting Midnight

Midnight tonight signals the start of NaNo (as well as my 24th birthday)! I’m going to try and begin writing some then, even if I only get a few hundred words. I tend to stay up late on any given night anyway (on average going to bed around midnight or so) and normally I’ll stay up until 1 or 1:30 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Anyway, not sure how much coherency there will be to my late night writing, but it’s fun to actually do so for NaNo.

Before then though, I need to crank out as many chapter summaries as possible; I’ve gotten a few past the point I ended at during last NaNo so I won’t be writing blind 😛 However, I’m thinking I won’t come anywhere near close to writing the rest of them, so I probably will  just have to follow where the story takes me. Normally it’s difficult for me to write without some sort of basic outline, but it’s not impossible. Besides, most of my summaries end up changing a great deal as I am actually writing. My characters end up doing things I don’t expect, which I know every writer at some point has experienced.

I’m also realizing that I think my novel will be way too long with the course I was following, so I think I’m going to do a number of major changes (such as Kaiyo never discovering her father’s identity and profession until much later on). It’ll take out bigger chunks and hopefully speed the story along, as I think it’s kind of plodding along now.

I’m wondering if I should make her father’s identity a mystery to the reader as well but I’m still on the fence with that one. Part of my thinking is if the reader  knows his identity for most of the book, they’ll get frustrated seeing Kaiyo never discovering it. But then I’m not sure how much the reader will like being kept in the dark for a longer period of time without becoming annoyed as well. I can’t dwell on that now though or else it will take away precious thought space on the edge of NaNo.

Anyway, good luck to all of the rest of you out there embarking on this month long novel adventure!

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