Yes, July was over four days ago (and I reached the beginning of chapter 20 under its pressure), but this post has been in the queue since I wrote the chapter. I’m discovering more and more about this new novel the more of it I write. For one thing, it’s as eclectic as I am.
I bring to you Chapter 18 as an example, for its many themes and ways. In the space on one chapter, currently the deliciously palandromic 2992 words – without counting the half a page of script in my notebook – my protagonist faces affection, disaster, action, and the end of love. Even if that list may well be influenced by my own personal touch of melodrama.
It’s true that every chapter should have a ‘shift’. Now, I’m no literary expert [on these], so I won’t explain them, but I’m sure a Google search will provide – but, in short, a change must exist in a chapter, from happy to sad, or vice versa.
Most writers do this automatically. I know that, even in the mushiness of WTCB’s original chapter 1, I performed a kind of emotional ‘swapsie’; nowadays, the first chapter faces two shifts to keep the tension and Aidelle carries a different wariness with her, one not of external bullies and internal doubt, but of curious worry for her new life and that mysterious tingling at the ends of her fingertips.
Unfortunately – perhaps! – no tingling in the sequel. However, Zara’s emotions are taken on a virtual rollercoaster* through this chapter, resulting in her feeling almost as she did at the beginning at its end. Well, more or less – ‘rotten’ would be one term she would use to express her pot of emotions at both points, though I’m sure she would tack on some different sub-emotions.
Let’s see: the chapter flips a few coins and features nearly all my cast. Going from this:
“The upside is that he did not take the papers. It shall be another two years before the official geneticists agree to such a commodity – atrocity.”
“If they exist for two more years,” said Zara. She ignored Max’s warming smile, and slumped on the dining room table, brooding to herself.
Notice I start with the word ‘upside’ to try and bring a lighter beginning. As I try not to end on dialogue, especially if I’ve started the chapter with it, this one ends as such:
She didn’t look back. She ran a hand up and down the wall. As expected, the concealed doorway clicked and the iron-foil rolled upwards into the ceiling. The relaxation room stood bare. The only relaxation she’d probably get. But Zara wasn’t made for thinking in the silence. Linacre might have captured her brother, but he had never captured her heart.
As much as I said I don’t think Zara changes over the course of the chapter – learning from the prequel, a lot of what I have written is action, or spoken word standing – she comes out of the Disaster Plot Device with more determination than before. As shown in WTCB, she shares Aidelle’s temper and self-hate –
‘Only self-hatred was rife. “Thank you…for being so kind. We cling to hating ourselves.’ WTCB;
‘Despite what Linacre protested, she had destroyed them.’ WTCB2
– but she also carries a strong sense of determination unlike Aidelle, even if that may make a lethal mix when combined with self-hate. However, two years have passed since the end of WTCB and Zara possesses less of the childish tendencies** she once clung to (and more than once, she calls herself a ‘pretentious child’. How years change a soul! But she has witnessed the inequality of her land, strangely mimicking Aidelle in more than one way).
You see, characters have to change, just as we ‘real’ people do. Even Zara’s accent (by which I mean how far she uses contractions and slang expressions – the term ‘accent’ in The Continent covers those elements of linguistics, too) has changed due to her exposure to a mixture of classes during her Physics Education.
I guess that’s what makes this trilogy NA and not YA.
And to think: I’ll be going through a similar process in a couple of months! Well, I do fall into the NA audience now.
Still, chapter 18 is necessary for experiencing the entirety of Zara’s rainbow of emotions. So much changes between the protagonist and her three main supporting characters (I’m counting the physical antagonist here) in this chapter that, although Zara is left as ‘rotten’ as she was at the genesis, what she has experienced causes her next actions.
I can only imagine how she would have reacted if Romantic Sub-Plot had not a part to play in the chapter; in fact, Chapter 19 is a vital chapter that the novel cannot do without. If that had changed, the entire future/past/present (depending on what opinion you have of time-travel novels! An “it’s complicated” may suffice) would have changed.
In the end, though, it’s that determination and love of family that grows from her hate of the happenings.
More on CampWriMo to come when I will have typed up the work I did whilst in Uganda. Seeing as I enjoy these somewhat-literary posts on character change and symbolism between the two current novels, I may well post a few more looking through the new chapters I have written.
*I’ve been on one of those when I went for my university interview. It was simultaneously frightening (my anxiety sparks up at rollercoasters) and wonderful.
**I fully understand that calling a suicide attempt ‘childish tendencies’ is a mite hypocritical of my own beliefs, but, for the purpose of the trilogy, suicide would be contrary to Zara’s personal growth and the allusion acts as supplement for Aidelle and Phillip’s withheld emotions more than anything; but this shows how different the two Zaras are. Indeed, some teens need to have a close-call to bounce into adulthood, but I also fully support the fact that depression and suicidal feelings are not part of teenage ‘angst’. Believe me, I know.