Terms of endearment

I really got a lot accomplished today. I’m very proud of myself. I wrote several new scenes for Part Two of AUT, and now I’m letting them settle in. Tomorrow I’ll read everything over again to make sure that the scenes make sense where I’ve inserted them and that they do the absolute best job conveying what I want. There’s a big one that I might have to toy with for a while, since it has to be perfectly calibrated, but that’s for tomorrow.

I don’t particularly relish adding scenes to what, to me, is a basically finished manuscript. Obviously it’s not really finished since it needs these new scenes, but I’ve been working on AUT for so long now, it’s like a sculpture or something, it feels weird to add to it because the whole point of carving a sculpture is to take stuff away until it looks exactly how you want it. It gives me that Frankenstein feeling. But those scenes need to be there, so my job now is to make sure they fit seamlessly in with the rest of the manuscript.

(I’m also concerned that the new scenes are messing with chapter lengths and bumping me up over my 85,000 word cap–I’m not sure how immutable this is, though–but I guess I’ll just cross that bridge when I come to it. Now is not the time to concern myself with that stuff.)

I can’t really talk about what scenes I added because of the mystery nature of the book and not wanting to spoil anybody a year before the book comes out. However, I did do something else just a few minutes ago that never occurred to me before, but just struck me while I was thinking about a particular character’s voice. I just thought I’d mention it because it’s a small change that means big things, at least to me.

AUT has two narrators, and they both talk about parents a lot. Parents don’t get much screen time in the book, but they are crucial to the back story, characterization, themes and overall atmosphere. Thus, the words “mother” and “father” appear numerous times in the manuscript. However, it just occurred to me that while Neily definitely uses the words “mother” and “father” exclusively to talk about his parents, Audrey would not, and I had to make sure this was consistent throughout.

My reasoning for this is that Neily is very removed from his parents, emotionally. He’s not very close with them, and he doesn’t particularly want to be. “Mother” and “father” are much more distanced terms for the parental units–they’re more formal, less familiar words.

Now, of course, not everyone who says “my mother” and “my father” more than they say “my mom” and “my dad” isn’t close to their parents–those are the terms I myself use most often to talk about my parents, because I prefer the way they sound, even though I’m very close to my parents. I even call my mother “Mother” to her face sometimes (I call her Mom, Mommy, and Ma, too), which she doesn’t really like. Her distaste for the appellation makes me think of that quote from Gilmore Girls when Rory calls Lorelai “Mother” and Lorelai says, “Don’t say ‘mother’ like that.” Rory says, “Like what?” and Lorelai says, “Like there’s supposed to be another word after it.” I swear I don’t mean it like that! I really do just like the way the words “mother” and “father” sound when you say them. I’m pretty sure my mom doesn’t like being called “Mother” because it seems too stiff and cold, which I totally see.

But anyway, for the purposes of my story, Neily uses those terms in his narrative because he’s more distanced from his parents. It’s a personality thing. Audrey, on the other hand, while she has her own parental issues, it makes sense to me (and hopefully it will make sense to others when they read AUT) that she would use more familiar terms. She’s just less distanced from the idea of parents. I think this is because she yearns for parents; she doesn’t see them as authority figures out to crush your spirit, she sees them as the holy grail, the thing she’ll never really have. So she says “my mom” and “my dad” and even calls her father “Dad” in non-dialogue narrative, which Neily never does.

So anyway, you can imagine how BFF me and Find+Replace were tonight. Now it’s time for bed.

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