Process of Writing: Leading Ladies

So I’ve been taking a little break from Agents lately…okay honestly I’m stuck right now. I don’t know where to go from here. I have an idea where I want to take this story, but I don’t know how best to get there. Ever my own worst critic, I’m considering rewriting the whole thing. Right now I see it as a family friendly-ish action adventure story centered around (ex)ninjas (because they’re that cool! Okay, I’m a little biased). As someone whose written more pages than finished projects, I’m no stranger to rewrites. I’ve rewritten my other project (Pilgrim’s Progress Part III: Marianna) more times than I care to count.

Near the end of last year (2013) I began the process of what I hope will be my last rewrite of Pilgrim’s Progress Part III: Marianna. lol The first thing I did was to change the name. See when I started this project I was 12 years old with a lot of enthusiasm. I believed that I would have this story done in no time!

I don’t know how long I thought it would take, but certainly not more than a year or so, though knowing me at the time I probably expected it to take less time. If I was actually an experienced writer, or had more support from parents it probably would’ve been done sooner. Or would it? hehe Looking back, I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t finish it then. It would’ve been good–a good beginning. But I think the perspective I can bring to it now will do more justice to the story–as if one could top a classic. =P

Anyway, the name! I decided it was too long so I shortened it to Pilgrim’s Progress 3: Marianna–or just Pilgrim’s Progress 3–rolls of the tongue easier (well my tongue anyway) and overall sounds more modern which fits my new premise for the story. I took the idea of Pilgrim’s Progress and said “What would it be like if it was written today?” If John Bunyan were to write his classic today, how would he do it? And while I’m not trying to channel John Bunyan, I am trying to start from the same place. No I’m not going to prison first, but I am trying to talk about things that go beyond this life in ways that engage and connect with people today. Ladies are an important part of a guys life at…well…I was gonna say my age. And that would get a few laughs, but more accurately they’re important every stage (imho) and the way they’re portrayed sets the tone for the whole story I think.  So I guess what you could say I’ve been doing this time around is rewriting  the leading ladies! xD

I wish I could say I did this on purpose, but there really was no grand design at play–at least on my end. My process was not too different from John Bunyan’s, I started writing but at the same time I had no idea what was going to happen but I did realize that I wanted to change my introduction. In keeping with my new premise I decided to write the introduction, not as John Bunyan, but as myself. I know that kind of seems obvious, but it wasn’t something I had really tried before. Next was Marianna herself. The leading lady needed to make an impression; a better impression than my last attempt! https://jaguarjenterprise.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/dark-horizons/ I think I’ve succeeded in fixing that with the help of another leading lady: Marianna’s oldest daughter (and eldest child). To be honest she was kind of a brat in my previous version. An 18-year-old with the mind of a 5 year old…or 10 year old, I should give her a little credit.

As a writer I’m inspired by the people around me. I was in college at the time, and met a girl that sort of inspired the “new iteration” if you will of Rachael. She was about 18 or 19, and kind of exuded the type of maturity and youthfulness Rachael needed to have. It wasn’t something I planned, but I thought of her as I began creating the new Rachael. So the portrayal of Marianna in this version is more like a tormented, possibly schizophrenic woman traumatized after the loss of her abusive husband. If you go back and read part 2, or are familiar with the Pilgrim’s Progress audio dramas, you know that Stand-fast (Marianna’s husband) was once (in his own words) a bullheaded drunkard. So it made sense, in my mind at least, to have the story begin in this way. How is this an improvement? I don’t completely know yet, other than providing a redemption for Rachael, I think it could lead to a tender mother/daughter thread that weaves throughout the whole story. Case in point Rachael is taking care of her mom at the beginning and looking for a way to help her get her mind back. She is, of course, successful as this part is named after Marianna. It’s the how that I’m not finished writing.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year it is my goal to finish this “childhood project” of mine. I’m grateful, though…not all dreams stick, and certainly not all of them have helped me grow as a person as much as this one has.

So do I plan on rewriting Agents as well? No. Not at this point, anyway. Though I do feel like I need some more perspective, to fill out the story. Just like Marianna, it’ll probably take going back to the heart of the story and some work on the leading ladies. Oh don’t worry, the guys get worked on too. In fact that’s where I am at this point. It occurred to me that Jason with his background is a little…mm…untouched by it. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but there is a certain tone he needs to strike in my mind, anyway. The idea was to have Serena be his opposite in a sense, but there would need to be reasons–reasons I was going too fast to figure out. Of course, I’ve been busy with school and work projects so it’s been a while since I’ve looked at what I’ve written, so maybe the answer will become clear as I look back over what I intended the story to be. Agents remains second in order of importance to Pilgrim’s Progress 3, so I may not do much of anything on it for a while though I’ll be thinking about how to improve it. It took 11 years for Marianna; hopefully I can draw on that experience to create something in less time.  So those are my thoughts for the new year over a month in. Happy late New Year!

-Jaggie

Oh yeah, I have a new nickname. short for Jaguar. I hope to be updating this blog more consistently this year–another goal. ‘Till next time!

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