December 16

The Antiphany – I Must Erase Heather

Today I had an antiphany, a word I just made up. If an epiphany can best be described as a moment of happy enlightenment, the antiphany is that dark moment when you come to grips with something that darkens your brow.In my “free” time this week, I’ve been trying to sort through what I’ve written so far so that I could have a presentable first three chapters (I’ll explain that later, when I get up the courage to follow through). Reading through and proofing your work, rearranging bits in a way that seems more coherent (thanks scrivener!!) is a good way to re-evaluate where your story is and where its headed, especially when you write mostly organic (ie, where the muse takes you versus with a strict, bulleted outline – see previous posts on my lamenting a lack of outline for the irony there). I’ve found a few sections that apparently I only wrote in my head, because when I pull them up there’s a few reminder notes and a lot of blank space.

But I’ve also found myself struggling to figure out how to handle one of my characters. Heather is a special character to me, born out of a short story I toyed with for years where a belt miner gets jettisoned out on a one way trip to the stars, rescued by aliens, discovers some things, yada yada. Heather was his wife back on Earth. She was also the ideal lead for a short I’ve had in my TODO pile for a long time called “Settler’s Way,” about a sleeper ship that arrives after a century plus journey only to discover that thanks to technological advances, their new home is already colonized and thriving. She has to make the tough choice to keep moving on, because that’s (wait for it) the “Settler’s Way.”

So when I started this novel that is my current WIP, I thought it would be a great platform to finally give her her due. But as the story has developed and evolved over the last few months, more and more I’m finding her part in the story somewhat superfluous and rather a bit awkward.

So I’ve come to the very painful conclusion she needs to be dropped – at least from this story. I’ll save the bits and massage them into a short or a novella, but she really doesn’t fit into this work. Sadly, that means dropping up to 6000 words from the story. Hopefully a lot less than that, since that just covers the scenes she’s in, and she isn’t the star of everything. Further proof she should be dropped is that in a good portion of those scenes, her role can be replaced by another character – and your characters should never be that interchangeable unless their group minded cephalopods known as Ganeshans…

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Posted December 16, 2009 by mcummings in category Writing

About the Author

Michael is happily married and the proud father of three girls. He acknowledges that that means that as soon as they hit their teens, the bathroom will be lost forever and his hypertension will go through the roof as he hunts down a shotgun. In the meantime, he enjoys tinkering with Linux (former Gentoo dev, w00t), fixing his frankenparts PC, and attempting to write stories that are worthy of reading (a ways to go on that one). Its nice to have aspirations at least :)

3 thoughts on “The Antiphany – I Must Erase Heather

  1. Jacob

    Must it be a tough decision to keep moving? Maybe it’d be an easy decision because she would see the same things in the colony that gave her reason to leave Earth in the first place.

  2. mcummings (Post author)

    The rationale (fermented like rotten tomatoes) is that it would be a tough call – you just lost over a century of your life for what turned out to be a fruitless trip. Plenty of folks would call it quits there, settle for what they could get.

    Or not. Like I said, its sat on the TODO pile for a long time :)

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