Process of Writing Revisited

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the process of writing so I thought I’d revisit it. And the particular part I’m revisiting is that of the leading ladies. You know, ladies have always been pretty important in my life. Starting with mom, of course, and moving on to when I was three-years-old and wanted a sister, to 17 and wanting a girlfriend. lol I have to admit I wasn’t actually ready until I hit about 21–then my system was ready to handle what my 17-year old self wanted. haha

Yeah, I know I’m weird. Anyway, how ladies are portrayed in my stories. I guess the the biggest thing is I picked a female character (Marianna) as my first major writing project. To start off with, I wanted her to be strong. I remember with Christiana she was afraid of heights and seemed to not be able to handle as much. I guess growing up with a strong mother shaped that perception of what a woman should be in my mind. We’ve just come away from mother’s day last week, so this is kind of fresh in my mind. Initially I had Marianna involved in the fighting, or at least she had that potential. She carried a sword and was proficient in it’s use. I’ve somewhat tamed that down in my latest iteration of the character. Mostly because as she first appears, she’s a bit crazy. You don’t want to hand a crazy person a sword. I’ve focused more on her internal motivations and internal development this time. No doubt she will pick up the sword in the future; though in what context I’m still not sure. My focus for the first chapter weighed more on Rachael (Marianna’s eldest) who has been through quite a transformation as I mentioned in a previous blog post. And now, quoting myself in reference to Rachael:

“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.” full blog entry

As I mentioned last week Marianna has come to the point where she is leaving Stupidity. So in between cleaning my room and getting my life back on track, I’ve been revisiting this mother daughter relationship. I find it quite compelling. Through the course of the preceding chapters Rachael has struggled with her mother’s condition, and some pretty painful revelations about what happened before her mother went crazy. This could’ve caused a rift between the two of them. But the Lord of the Hill has been working on both of their hearts and so that wound is in process of healing. In one of the scenes I recently finished, Rachael helps Marianna address her people in a more tactful manner. I thought that was pretty funny at first, but then I realized that Rachel’s experiences will have matured her to that point. And it’s not that Marianna is naive, but she tends to be more emotional than Rachael. Rachael is a little more pragmatic though still emotional to a point. It takes someone she really knows to see her open up. So while they’re both strong they express themselves in different ways. So that’s been fun to explore.

Another one of my leading ladies is Faith. She’s gone through some changes as well, but has mostly continued to be the same throughout each version of the story. Kind of like the big sister you always wanted. This time around I’m focusing on how she’s like her name. She has a very strong faith in the Lord of the Hill and it shows in everything she does. I wanted to be careful to strike a balance; she’s not one to jump out of the plane without a parachute. However, if there is now way, humanly speaking, she can procure one she will not hesitate to take a leap of faith. Okay, that was probably a terrible example. There’s a song called Trust His Heart, I believe that would fit what she is more or less. She’s all for planning and pragmatism, in fact she’s pretty smart; I think this is important for two reasons: Her husband Paul Great-heart Jr. is something of an intellectual (although, unlike Rachael’s brother Amos, he doesn’t always send you running to the dictionary). The other reasons is that an attitude of faith is often portrayed as stupid, or maybe it’s the portrayed attitude of the people who claim to be acting on faith. Some of it could be perception. At any rate, Faith is a smart young lady and, as it happens, mother to two adopted children. Even more reason for her to have her wits about her. lol

Faith is also a strong character and wields a sword, as per earlier drafts. But we haven’t addressed that part of her character yet, and focused more on her primary work as a physician. She becomes an instrumental part of Marianna’s recovery prescribing promises from the book along with medicine first introduced by Dr. Skill (a doctor in part two who treats Christiana’s son Matthew). Didn’t really show two much of her mother side. She’s not a normal mom in many ways. Mostly because she’s young with teen daughter and tween son. Second she’s a missionary doctor with a traveling “medical missionary troupe” but also has bodyguard/assassin skills developed through an unusual career path. (I should probably mention that she hasn’t functioned either as an assassin or bodyguard–that part of her training was more forced on her than sought after.) Yeah, I don’t get into her back story too much because, again, this is Marianna’s story. But I’ve been thinking of giving Paul and Faith their own series. We’ll see how that pans out. But I digress. Faith’s role is heavily portrayed in relation to Paul’s, how they interact has matured as I have. In some ways I had her being a source of encouragement and help in much the same way as my mom encourages me when I’m down. But then I realized that for Paul’s character, especially with his shift towards leading man, I can’t give him these tremendous moodswings where he falls into doubt and depression and second guessing. That would be unhealthy for his kids–not to mention the team he leads. So it’s more along the lines of him being pragmatic and her reminding him to trust God. For example in a recent scene I explored with the two of them, Paul is trying to decide whether they should run from a potential threat or stand their ground. As he is a man, not knowing is very unsettling. So Faith calmly, and perhaps a bit sarcastically, reminds him of the fact that they’ve always been cared for by their Lord. And that whatever happens is for their best good, and ultimately for His glory. So stuff like that. I’ve dialed it back from the previous place I took it. Which makes me think of a scene in chapter 2 I need to modify to fit this new premise.

So anyways, that’s where I am with my leading ladies in my leading lady story of Marianna. Hopefully my ramblings have been of some worth.

’til next time!

-J

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