Revising Leah

May 12, 2008

Reshuffling the Deck

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 11:39 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, it turns out I wasn’t too far off the mark. I’ve gone through and broken up the novel into smaller chapters, and as of right now, I have 24 chapters. Ultimately, I think the novel might run about 22 or 23 chapters, since I might end up recombining a couple of chapters, but 24 is the number I’m working with now. Here’s how I’ve broken it down:

1996 Draft / Revised

Chapter 1 / 1

Chapter 2 / 2

Chapter 3 / 3, 4

Chapter 4 / 5, 6, 7

Chapter 5 / 8, 9

Chapter 6 / 10, 11, 12

Chapter 7 / 13, 14, 15

Chapter 8 / 16, 17

Chapter 9 / 18

Chapter 10 / 19, 20, 21

Chapter 11 / 22

Chapter 12 / 23, 24

In terms of organization, two chapters are going to cause me some problems: the old chapter 4 and the old chapter 9. Chapter 4 is a problem because I tried to combine two episodes (the book report and Leah’s trip to the used book store) into one chapter. While the two events are related, I think they would be better off placed in separate chapters, but the problem that I have is that I have embedded the book store trip inside of the book report subplot, and it might make more sense to keep those two stories separate. We’ll see. Revising those scenes might require some rewriting and moving some passages of text around, but it shouldn’t be too hard to sort out.

A more difficult problem is what to do with the sequence of events that occur during Thanksgiving week towards the end of the novel. Here’s a rough outline of events that occur in chapters 8-11 of the 1996 draft:

Sunday: Leah, etc. meets at David’s house to work on presentation

Monday: Presentations due; Leah’s group not chosen

Tuesday: Leah’s group chosen

Wednesday: Leah stays home; Grandma comes to visit

Thursday: Thanksgiving Day

Friday: Shopping trip

The problem here is that the events of Monday and Tuesday seem needlessly repetitive. On Monday, Leah worries about the presentation, but it doesn’t happen. On Tuesday, she worries about it some more, and it does happen. What I’d like to do is conflate the two days so that Leah and her group present their Egypt report on Monday. But if I do that, it will screw up the time line for the rest of the week, because there are certain events (like Thanksgiving Day) which must occur on certain days. If Leah gives her presentation on Monday, that will leave me with a full day in which I have nothing planned for her. She must stay home from school the day following her presentation because she is upset about not spending any more time with David — and because I don’t want David to speak to her again until the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. The reason why Leah’s mother lets her daughter skip school is because she thinks Leah is excited about her grandmother’s visit. In the 1996 draft, Grandma arrives on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I could move her arrival up to Tuesday, to fill in the gap that I’ve created there (and I could pretend that Wednesday was going to be part of the holiday anyway), but then that leaves me with nothing to do for Wednesday. I haven’t decided how I’m going to solve this problem. What I could do is keep the presentation on Tuesday, as I originally intended, but try to make Tuesday’s events unique compared to Monday. Right now, though, I don’t have any ideas for how to do that.

Anyway, that’s a problem for later. I think my next task is going to be to write the report that Leah delivers to her class, which I might insert into the text of the novel. That should be an interesting challenge, even if I decide not to include the text after all. It’s a challenge not only because I have to write in the style of a 14-year-old, but I have to write in the voice of Leah Nells. While I’ve developed what I hope is a deep and complex personality for her, her shyness means that she rarely speaks in the novel, so I wonder if I can transfer her voice into a short piece of writing. I think it will be fun to try.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] more significant problem that chapter 18 (and now 19, too) poses for me is the problem that I first described a few weeks ago; namely, that I find myself with an extra day during the week of Thanksgiving. As I explained in […]

    Pingback by The Tyranny of Thanksgiving « Revising Leah — June 17, 2008 @ 12:32 pm


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