I've been working on my new book, tentatively titled The Field, and I'm really liking where it's taking me. It 's based off of a 35 page short story I wrote for my MFA program. I thought it would be hard to take a story with a concrete ending and turn it into a novel, but it's working. A short story has to be condensed and the pace should move quickly. I now have the chance to slow things down and spend more times on scenes or include parts that I had to cut out.
The only problem is that my main character isn't the nicest. Her sister is dying and instead of grieving, she's jealous. She's always been jealous of her sister and now in the last weeks of her sister's life, these feelings intensify to the point where she does some pretty awful things. Things that I'm something shocked about in my own writing. Scenes that make me ashamed for both my character and the world I've created in the story.
However, there's redemption for my main character. She has reasons for why she does what she does and the story isn't about the negative relationship with her sister, but in the end (if I execute it right), one of strong love and ferocious caring for a person you're going to lose.
I think it will work, even if my main character pisses me off at times.
Do you ever create characters you don't like? Do you give your character flaws so that they aren't perfect? Is this hard for you to do?
I haven't shared in awhile, so I'm including a scene from the piece. Enjoy and happy Friday!
When Amelia first got sick, she started running at night. My dad, who had moved back home after the diagnosis and was sleeping in a guest room as if to let us know that he was in fact just visiting, said matter or fact, “It’s because she can’t sleep, just like your mom.”
Dad believed my sister’s night became day and oftentimes, her life never turned to the hours of sleep. I asked him if he had the same feelings and tried to tell him about my own nightmares that kept me awake, but they evaporated in the air. He had already left the room and I found myself talking to myself.
I knew the truth, though. Amelia didn’t run at night because she couldn’t sleep; she ran because she didn’t want to sleep.
“There’s going to be a time when I won’t have the energy to run anymore,” she confessed to me when I found her hiding in the mudroom, bent over her tennis shoes, lacing them up quickly. She had put a finger to her lip and squatted down, nodding at me to do the same. My mom was looking for her, wandering slowly through the house and it seemed like she was the one who needed to be found. “Tell her I’m gone; I’m already running.”
I nodded and she was off, her shadow dark and racing against a sky that was even darker. When she rounded the corner, I went inside, closed the door and dead bolted it. I turned off the light over the front awning, making our house a black unwelcoming hole against the candles that burned from the miracle seekers in our fields. Sometimes I had wished my sister would just run and run and never come home.