It's amazing how an idea that I mulled over in my head for about a year (and swapped and changed, and tried to meld with other things, and put in any number of combinations) is finally coming together. Today I started work on my first draft of Part III -- the final part -- of the novel I'm working on. Actually, I don't think "working on" adequately conveys how much pain and effort is going into this. The novel I'm labouring over. Sweating out. Exorcising.
Well, I'm starting to see an end in sight. This weekend I spent 90% of my time (the time that wasn't spent food shopping and watching Stepsisters ... again) editing Part II to bring it to second draft. And because I've read some great books these past couple of weeks, I decided to mess about with the format a little bit. Despite trying to cut down my word count, I managed to keep it steadily at about 35,000: I cut a lot of crap out, but I also included more interjections to frame past and present. I like it, I really do: it adds a bit more mystery by referencing things that need to be kept secret, and I thought long stretches of languishing in a village might be a little dull.
One thing I always struggle with is bringing in some light and humour, and making the reader care about the characters before I do horrible things to them. I know I need to go right back to Part I (on to draft six), and have some more interactions between the students. And, much as I wanted any excuse to bring in the Lagos VegFest, I think I'm going to have to cut it. It brought a lot of action (at a VegFest, I know!) but it felt like just another terrible thing that happened in Lagos, and I don't want Lagos or even Nigeria as just this cesspit of terrible things happening so the white girls can overcome. It was intended as a bonding period for the MC's sister and parent (which was probably counteracted by the incident that occurred there) as well as introducing Biafra protestors. In Part II draft 1, the MC thinks that the kidnappers are actually political protestors hoping to achieve Biafra, and so the VegFest incident was meant to create a bit of a red herring.
This novel is already getting too long, so I want to delete the references to Biafra to focus on interpersonal relationships. If anyone has any templates or tips to build B characters without being too YA, as well as interjecting a little light-heartedness whilst propelling the plot, please hit me up.
While I don't have much paid work to do, and my internship duties are a bit quieter than normal, I'm taking the opportunity to press on and get a first draft of the full completed novel. I don't have a concrete ending -- the one I'm thinking of is maybe a little too twee, and I don't want to rely on my main character believing in love again to be a satisfactory ending. I don't want love to be the ending, that the culmination of all she has been through is that she can look across a bar and get a little tingly that a boy winked at her. Or is that representative of a greater enthusiasm for life, that she's behaving how any other eighteen-year-old would?
Writing this book is like trying to control a lucid dream. Sure, I can direct the car, but I don't know what's at the end of the road. I'd always expected to end the novel with a rescue, but what comes after that? Isn't that just as important to my MC? I'm not going to rush it there: when she's at the end, I'll know.