Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Big Decisions

Commitments are tough, especially for protagonists who are faced with embarking on the hero’s journey. My main character is no different. A recent critique of my novel mentioned my protagonist’s inner debate was too short. 

After revising, I created a table to track my main character’s state of mind. I copied every passage that dealt directly this decision and pasted the quote into my table along with the chapter and page. Then I invented a scoring scale to monitor her feelings about the decision.  

0 = neutral
-4 = avoidance
-7 = saying no outright
-10 = pretending the problem never existed
+4 = waffling, but in a positive way
+7 = saying yes out loud
+10 = sealing the bargain. 

Of course some passages fell between these markers.  

I learned she spends over 1000 words considering the problem. (I’m still waffling about whether this is enough.) Originally, her decision was postponed twice by interruptions. (I got rid of one interruption to reduce scene similarity.) The table allows me to see how she makes up her mind. Often it’s one step forward, two steps back. Perhaps that’s normal, or maybe she’s doing the cha-cha.


Buffy Silverman said...

I'm always amazed by the insightful ways you analyze your writing Ann. ( Maybe you should write a book about it?)

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks, Buffy. Maybe someday. At least these tables and graphs are blog fodder. :-)

Kim Van Sickler said...

LOL. You and your scientific background. Mixing the right and left sides of the brain. Very impressive system you've designed for yourself.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Kim: It occurred to me later I could have simply used a descriptive word like "avoidance" instead of my number scale.

Ruth McNally Barshaw said...

I like it. And I agree with Buffy: Eventually you'll write a book about writing, and people will learn a lot from it.