Another quick note about writing, since that’s what I’m spending all my free time on right now. One of the hardest things, for me, is staying in character. It is very easy for me to conceive of ideas, plot points, twists and turns, but staying in character is difficult. When you are writing in first person, how your character acts and reacts is what drives your plot. Getting out of character can ruin a scene.
Destinee is an optimist. She is a bright girl with a low-level education, whose vocabulary and speech patterns are a mix of small town Alabama and national pageant interview training. She hasn’t read many of the Classics, but she is very well read when it comes to current events, and she would surprise you with her knowledge of geography and politics. She absolutely cannot work higher math, but she is a savvy business woman and keeps her own accounting. She is incredibly confident in the way of professional athletes, in that she can strike out in a major way, then get up again swinging without losing her sense of value or worrying that she’s not good at her game. She looks at the world through the eye of a coach, but she is not critical until it comes to mean people. And, she is completely independent, but wants to be close to home. She has chosen to live next door to her family because she loves them, not because she’s afraid to be without them.
Destinee is very different from me. I am cautiously optimistic, at best. I am well educated, but I have not spent nearly enough time on anything of real importance. I am not an entrepreneur. I do not have the same kind of confidence. I am not fearless. I prefer bagels to bikinis.
When writing in first person for Destinee, it is easy to project my own ways onto her. I spent a couple of hours writing a scene, but it just wasn’t feeling right. I finished it out, slept on it, and woke up realizing the problem was that Destinee wasn’t acting like herself. She was acting like me.
Where Destinee should have taken a few seconds to assess her situation, then taken full control of it (because she’s Destinee Faith Miller, ya’ll), she had assessed the situation and allowed it to consume her, never acting, only reacting.
If you slap me, I will gape at you and wonder why you hit me, and I will worry that if I slap you back, you’ll slap me again and it will hurt worse, and I will try to figure out how to get away from you without any more handprints on my face.
If you slap Destinee, she’ll slap you back harder and tear out a hank of your hair for good measure.
So, if I write into my personal comfort zone, the scene veers off in the wrong direction, changing the course of the entire novel–and that’s why I needed to rewrite so much.