6/29/03: Off to critique

Word count: 20519 Added a couple hundred words on the state of the world and Jason’s reaction to it to chapter A, and gave the first chunk of chapters (not including the incomplete chapter 3) to my critique group. Also got all my crits done in time, huzzah. The changes are not really enough; I need to go through and really tune Jason up as a character, but that will come in the first editing pass after the first draft is finished. I already have a list of things I want to do for each chapter, plus global things like “play up echoes between the two plot threads”. But I’m going to keep drafting, because to go back and rewrite now would be to enter an endless cycle of revision that leads nowhere. At the last critique group meeting, Jim said (about someone else’s story) that “many beginning writers base characters on themselves, and they always suck because they don’t include their own flaws.” I suspect I may have done this, to some extent, with Jason. He isn’t me, but he’s a lot like me. I need to take a cold hard look at him and make sure I’m giving him enough flaws and hurting him enough. Just read a portion of a book called Portraits of “The Whiteman”: Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols Among the Western Apache by Keith Basso (Kate picked up a copy for $1 at a used book store). This section discussed how Apaches may imitate and exaggerate Anglo behavior for humorous effect, and analyzed a long “whiteman joke” to show exactly how and why Anglos look stupid when viewed from an Apache cultural perspective. This made me realize that my aliens are not nearly alien enough, culturally. They come from another planet, for pity’s sake — they should be at least as different from Anglos as the Apaches are. Another thing to address in the next draft. I’m going to take a 3-week breather from the novel now, to work on a commissioned short story.

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