Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Every March, the Slice of Life Challenge is a month-long experience where Slicers post every single day for the entire month. I'm joining in on the monthly challenge this year! For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
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I've been working on my young adult contemporary novel for about 3 1/2 years now. I finished my first draft during the first summer of Teachers Write and then have been revising ever since. I've made some huge revisions along the way. The first bit of feedback I got when it came time to revise was that nothing really happened for the first 30 pages. There wasn't really anything big going on, no conflict yet.
It was all fluff:
Fluffy fictional characters
who had fluffy things happen
until there was a fluffy kerfuffle
and things went back to being all fluff and fluffy.
That would have to change.
Soon after, I went to an author event with Elizabeth Eulberg and she shared the resource Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I fell in love. I used his beats to re-plot my story and then I revised to represent my new outline, cutting and adding a lot of content. I felt much better about this.
Last fall, I had the honor of working with Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver who chose to mentor me through a contest called Pitch Wars organized by Brenda Drake. They gave me amazing feedback and worked really hard to help me make my manuscript even more polished.
But there is still something a little off with my characters. My main character is like-able...but not. And her best friend is really not a good friend...but almost to the point where a reader might not like her at all or not like the main character for putting up with such a horrible friend. I didn't mean for them to turn out this way but it kind of happened. I think they are still fluffy around the edges. Or maybe inside? Their outline is there but I haven't carved the fluff out of them just yet.
The biggest thing that stands out about my main character is that she's pretty insecure.
Why might she be so insecure?
What has happened in her life to make her so insecure?
Might her insecurities be similar to my own insecurities?
What experiences have I had in my life to make me insecure?
Yup, here I finally started to identify with how I'm impacted by being part Hispanic and part white. I connected the dots between Nerdcamp and We Need Diverse Books and filling in stupid bubbles and my main character. I realized that so much of me and how I see the world is embedded in my main character. Her insecurities totally mirror my own. And while it has been a challenge in some situations to be part white and part Hispanic, it has been an asset; it has helped me build confidence and given me the opportunity to see different perspectives and therefore have compassion for others.
As I continue to revise and de-fluff my novel,
I'm learning about writing,
about the process,
but most importantly,
I'm about to start revising again now that I have a more solid grasp on who I am and how that influences who my main character is. We'll see where it takes me but grappling with her insecurities made me look closely at why I wrote her that way and helped me unlock my own story. It's moments like this when writing almost feels magical because of what it reveals.
To read my previous Slice of Life posts, click on any link below: