A blogpost, and it’s not Saturday? What is this madness?
Well, I’m designing out chapter 018.2, and I’m running headfirst into a problem. I felt I might be able to move past it if I write out my thoughts. And since the folks who visit the blog are the hardcore members of the audience, I figured they’d enjoy a peek into what’s ahead and how the writing process works. Mild spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you don’t even wanna know what that chapter will be about.
018.2 is a Milly/Lucas story. The readership poll I ran suggested they were quite unpopular, but I feel this is an important story to tell — it concerns how the Citadel raises its young to make them into soldiers. But the issue I’m running into is this… I have five possible characters in the mix, and that’s a bit of a glut. Who do I chop?
Milly’s in, period. She’s the primary viewpoint character, to the point where I’m considering first person perspective narration. The story concerns what happens when a group of Citadel education evaluators show up at her public high school and start testing the students. The question is whether I want to COMPLETELY bind the story to her perspective or not, but she’s definitely going to be in there.
Lucas is in, but he’s really only important in the second half of the story. I COULD insert some scenes in the first half showing how the Citadel approaches the online Maslow Academy he attends with Penelope, but I’m not sure these scenes are worth writing. They can be summarized neatly in a few sentences over the phone or by text message to Milly. But a reader pointed something interesting out to me… one of the reasons Milly/Lucas isn’t a popular pick is because Lucas isn’t very defined. This could be a chance to define him. But I COULD do that entirely in the back half of the story, so I might not need him in the first half. Not sure.
Next we have Milly’s friends. Jenna, the MOBA jock alpha female of the school, could be an interesting inclusion because of her perspective as one of the popular girls, and someone the Citadel might highlight for her tactical potential. She provides good contrast to normally meek and compassionate Milly, since Jenna is brash and direct. But…
…I think a better option is Isra, a new character I’m pondering. You may remember her as the cyberbully who was bugging Milly, but now they’re friends, even if it’s a tumultuous friendship. This could be a better contrast, someone negative and depressed, and illustrating the ongoing themes of City of Angles of reaching out to your enemies. But she wouldn’t make sense in scenes with Jenna, given Jenna’s an in-girl and Isra’s an outcast, and both are blunt speakers. Might be too distracting, so ideally I’d want one OR the other.
It’s all about focus. I could include all these characters all over the place, give Lucas a ton of scenes, have all three girls romping around, but… that’s unfocused and doesn’t serve the story well. At the same time, I WANT to write them, all of them have interesting things to say. I’m not sure what the ideal balance is. I welcome your input, even though admittedly I haven’t talked about the actual PLOT so it’s hard to figure this stuff out indirectly. Figured, hey, blog post might be interesting to read at least.
Tune in Saturday morning for 018.1 which is actually a completely different story and stars Cass and is quite awful for her.
MARCH 1st, ADDITIONAL: Okay, I figured out this puzzle. I can include every single character mentioned above… if I start the story from the perspective of Lucas Flynn, and have him along for the entire ride rather than coming in at the middle.
This lets me give Lucas some sorely needed character development and a legitimate character arc to follow, AND I have a relatively clever way to bring Isra and Jenna into the fold without having too much side conflict to deal with. Plus it’ll make folks who want more mixed media oddness and strange formatting happy. PLUS it’ll tie in perfectly with 018.3 and 018.4…
Yep. This will work. But for now, it’s all about 018.1. I’m working weeks in advance now so that you’ll have fresh content on a regular basis despite spring vacations.