Revising Leah

May 14, 2008

Progress Report #1

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 10:29 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Since my last post, I’ve been working on two things:  Leah’s Egypt report and chapter 1.

Writing Leah’s report has been a little trickier than I thought, not because, as I suggested before, that it is hard to capture her writing voice, but because I have very precise requirements about how long her report should be.  In the novel, each group is allotted 15 minutes for the group’s presentation, so Leah and her four partners decide to divide that time up equally, meaning that Leah has to prepare a 3 minute report.  I’ve always worried about this, because in my experience, I know that a 3 minute report really isn’t very long at all.  I was worried that all I was asking Leah to write was a mere paragraph, which doesn’t seem like a very substantial contribution to a big project like this.

Based on what I have drafted so far for Leah’s report, I see that a 3-minute report will be about 200-250 words long.  If written out by hand on notebook paper, that would fill about one page. I think that sounds like enough work, especially for a ninth grader, so I feel a lot better about this aspect of the story.

I’ve also been working on revising chapter 1. I’ve always liked the first chapter of Leah because the reader gets to see Leah in action right away. We meet Leah and her mother as the two of them are hitting the last two stops of a morning of garage sale shopping. Leah is searching for some new books to read, and Mrs. Nells has a plan to try to force her daughter to interact more with other people and break out of her shyness.  In the first chapter, we not only see the depth and degree of Leah’s shyness, and thus learn a lot about her as a character, but we also are introduced to the main conflict of the story: the shame that Leah feels because she is told, again and again, that there is something wrong with her, that her shyness is something terrible which she must overcome.

Just because I’m starting with chapter 1, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to proceed linearly through the novel.  I’ll probably skip around, working on whichever chapter I’m in the mood to work on. I want to make the revising process as enjoyable as possible so that I will be motivated to continue, and one way that I can do that is to allow myself the freedom to work on any portion of the story that I wish.

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