Revising Leah

June 17, 2008

The Tyranny of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The other day, I mentioned that chapter 17 is the longest chapter in the novel. The second longest is (or was) chapter 18, at about 20 pages long. But while I wasn’t able to break chapter 17 down any further than it already is, I found that chapter 18 had a formal break in the narrative about halfway through the chapter. Converting that narrative break into a chapter break was very easy, so I’m now back to a total of 25 chapters for the novel.

The 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 that earlier post, in the 1996 draft of the novel, Leah’s history group delivers their presentation on Tuesday. The problem is that this seems to leave a lot of unnecessary repetition between Monday and Tuesday. Leah spends most of Monday worrying about the possibility that she and her group might be selected to present their projects on Monday. When that doesn’t happen, she experiences a reprieve Monday evening, but on Tuesday, the anxiety returns. My problem is that I don’t want to just write “Leah was worried” over and over again.

The ideal solution would be to revise the plot so that Leah’s group is selected on Monday. Believe me, I tried to make this work, but no matter how I tried to revise the schedule of events for the last third of the novel, I’m stuck with an extra day (that is to say, if the presentation is delivered on Tuesday, then Monday is the extra day; If the presentation is delivered on Monday, then Tuesday or Wednesday is the extra day). The reason is because Leah’s presentation is due the week of Thanksgiving, and that holiday plays an important role in the final chapters of the book. If it were possible for me to move Thanksgiving Day from Thursday to Wednesday, then that would solve all my problems and eliminate the extra day. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving Day ALWAYS comes on a Thursday (it’s like trying to move Easter to a Wednesday), so that day is set in stone. Thus, all of the events that occur that week must be scheduled around the fact that Thanksgiving occurs on a Thursday, and this is why an extra day keeps popping up for me earlier in the week.

So, I guess what I have to do is leave the presentation on Tuesday, but as I revise chapters 18 and 19, I’m trying to eliminate or minimize as much of the needless repetition as I possibly can. Ultimately, I’m afraid that the schedule of events for the early part of the Thanksgiving week will continue to be a weakness in the overall plot.

Otherwise, I find that I haven’t had many problems with the plot. Oh, my novel has problems, but plot really isn’t one of them.

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