Shifting Gears – NaNoWriMo 2014

I’ve been struggling with Blood of Midnight: Hollow Vengeance. It’s been going slower and slower until there have been days where I haven’t been writing at all, too intimidated by the prospect of slogging through another chapter. When I began writing the sequel to The Broken Prophecy I very much wanted to focus on the female lead who got less attention than her male counterpart in the first book. It annoys me that there are far fewer female protagonists than male, and even fewer female protagonists of colour. Very often, the only female characters of note end up being the male lead’s love interest and nothing else. I did not want that to be the fate of Phoenix.

But there’s a difference between what you should write and what you want to write. I found myself not wanting to write Phoenix but feeling like I owed it to feminists and women of colour. I rarely ever get inside this character’s head. Is it because she’s female? Is it because she’s not white? I don’t know.

The feedback I’ve had so far from people who have read the chapters from Phoenix’s point of view has been universally positive. They like her. She’s a badass. She doesn’t take shit from anybody. She’s complex. She sometimes makes the wrong decisions and has to deal with it … So what’s my problem with her?After almost a month of avoiding my writing or spitting out forced crap, I handed it over to my wife and asked her to help me figure out what sucked and what didn’t. She read it, and is still reading it (It’s halfway finished and thus not a small chunk of literature). She laughs at the funny bits. She “ohhh ho ho!”s at the surprises and plot twists. Annnnd then she pauses and points out where things seem flat. Abbreviated. As she put it: “Like you have the plot all laid out and you’re just going along ticking off boxes where things need to happen. It’s mechanical.” Some sections felt rushed.

I realized that was the problem. There were portions I was rushing through, so I had her write down wherever it seemed like I skipped something or didn’t spend enough time somewhere. We found out that the places that had the most “rushed” written were actually the chapters from Damon’s perspective, the male protagonist.

Apparently, I’ve been trying too hard. I had the best of intentions but the execution was poor.

What to do about it? Well, I can’t very well just drop a character that everyone seems to really like. But I can’t get into her head. Kaitlyn suggested that I continue telling Phoenix’s story but from another character’s point of view. Not the whole thing, obviously, but portions of it. There is a character who constantly follows her around throughout the story, Kael, so why not use him? I can get into his psyche just fine.

I can also go back and flesh out the rushed sections with Damon so that I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself by not permitting myself to focus on him. His story does not need to be muted in order for my leading lady to shine. I guess I was subconsciously trying to make him less interesting so that Phoenix would seem cooler by comparison. That’s just ridiculous. She’s awesome all by herself and doesn’t need the help.

So what I’m going to do now is take a break from writing Blood of Midnight: Hollow Vengeance and focus on NaNoWriMo. Write something different and come back to it in December with fresh eyes and hopefully more energy to rip, tear, and repair it. I was hoping to be finished my first draft by the end of this year but I just simply do not work that fast without spitting out garbage. Frankly, my readers deserve better and I’m not going to cheat them.

I’m not going to cheat myself either. Ultimately, I need to tell the story that I want to tell, not the one I feel obligated to for the sake of political correctness.

Author: Ethan Kincaid

Ethan Kincaid was born in 1985 in Brockville, a sleepy little town on the St. Lawrence River. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a degree in Linguistics and a minor in Japanese Language. After finishing his education, he settled down there with his wife Kaitlyn and became a full-time writer. In 2011, he moved to Montreal and discovered its vibrant writing culture. In 2015, Ethan moved to Helsinki, Finland with his wife; he works as a props crafter and part time author. His first book, Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy is the first of a new fantasy trilogy. The greatest joy in his life lies in helping budding writers find their voices. In his words: "I like to shake people until cool stuff comes out!"

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