Project 1 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 is ready to read. So, what's its purpose.
Backstory, gap filling, adding context - whatever you want to call it, this chapter is about adding some layers to the characters, giving the reader some idea of who they are and where they live. The trick to this (and I am by no means perfect at it - I am still learning how to do this effectively) is to give the reader the details without giving the details.
Let me explain.
By now we know that Adelyn and Stevi are friends. By giving a few details about Stevi's family moving to Port Kinsale there was also the opportunity to start building the picture, not only of Stevi's character but also of this coastal town.
(As far as I know, there isn't a Port Kinsale in Australia - there is a Kinsale in Ireland, and it does have a port - and that's where the name of this fictional town comes from.)
We know that they moved there for a sea or tree change, and that she surfs each day. I have spent many holidays along the Australian coastline, walked for hours along beaches - coastal life is very much part of the Australian experience. It doesn't take a lot of detail in this particular manuscript to paint a picture of Port Kinsale - most of us have some similar experience we can relate to.
When Stevi says she stopped speaking for 'three days' but Adelyn knows that it was really for a few hours, the reader now knows that maybe Stevi is prone to hyperbole. Sure, we know that she has red hair, physical description is important but learning to surf, and joining the netball team tell us more about her character - her competitive nature, how she has adjusted to moving.
What about little Laney. She reminds her sister that she is nine, so now the reader knows. (And we already know how old Adelyn is - a bit of maths in Chapter 2 established that.) But it's her tap, tap, tapping and the thumb sucking that maybe gives a bit more insight into this character.
I also wanted to point out a few things - personal things. There is a saying that writers 'mine their own lives'. And I have certainly done and continue to do that.
Unpacking Harper Holt had lots of my own life in there - from the inclusion of gingernut biscuits (my absolute favourites), to the must have dog. We have dogs - can't imagine life without them. I have included characteristics of friends to build a character, the memory of my dad pruning my mum's oleander trees and if a character has a favourite book - you know it is one of mine.
Everything We Keep is set in Melbourne, there is train travel, and the description is what I saw when I travelled by train when writing the first draft. And the tin - on P126 - well, I've had a version of that in my house for a long time.
And in Project 1, in these first few chapters are some personal things. For example, I adore the dark purple iris - have them throughout my garden. Whilst I don't have a iris notebook, I did make an online notebook several years ago to use on a trip. I'm not so much a fan of ice cream now but I do remember, as a child, having Milo on vanilla ice cream and stirring it until it was like a chocolate thick shake.
In this new way of writing, I have to remind myself that I need to fill in the details, create that picture for the reader and be quite deliberate about it. In this writing experiment, I am taking the time to reread chapters, edit and change as I go, rather than blurt write.
And how is that going?
Well, I'm not really sure. Progress is slow. This is certainly going to take a lot longer to finish. However, I am enjoying it - the writing of the manuscript and then the blog post to go with the chapter. Time will tell.