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notebook_doodles_pngTime for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

Thanks to a very productive weekend, I added thirty three hundred words to my novel and completed its climactic fourteenth chapter! Vivian’s Last Cigarette is now closing in on 54,000 words in total as I’ve reached the threshold of its falling action. I’m excited to keep going, as I shouldn’t have more than two chapters to complete before finishing a first draft of the story!

Chapter fourteen ended up being the longest in the book so far, and I doubt the chapters proceeding it will exceed its initial length of over seven thousand words. Although I think an emotional and action-packed climax warrants a longer word-count amongst its peers, I did shift its 1,300 word opening to the end of the prior chapter. That still makes it the longest in the book, but now only by about a thousand words.

Given that the opener closed with a scene-change, I think it punctuates better now ended with a chapter break. And chapter thirteen shifted scenes twice as it was… Ending it with a third one (featuring the same character that opened the chapter) seems to give it a better flow in retrospect.

I also made a decision to rewrite a supporting antagonist in the story over the weekend. Their “loyal henchman / buddy to the main antagonist” schtick just wasn’t sitting right with me, and even worse they were coming off as bland. Then in a second of inspiration, I had the thought that, if he was a she, I could add about four new layers of color and interaction. Layers that strengthen not only her character, but also highlight a key point about the main antagonist that is driven home in the climax.

So, BOOM… Cory became Corilynn. It’s mostly a gender flip with their personality tweaked only ever so slightly… But Corilynn’s relationship roles definitely change even when her character functions stays the same. This adds work for me to do with editing, but I love how the revision likewise adds dimension and contrast so efficiently and widely to the story.

Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill (1985).

Grace Jones as May Day in A View to a Kill (1985).

She’s already become more interesting than her unfortunately bland prior incarnation: Instead of a Harley Quinn or a typical gun moll, I’m writing her inspired by fair dose of May Day. ;-)

A girl antagonist also adds a significant active female presence to the story. Although Viv is the titular character of the novel, gets a lot of time devoted to her, and I’ve worked hard to make her a rounded character with strengths and flaws… to this point in the draft she’d been the only active female character.

There have been a few brief interactions that allow the novel to pass the Bechdel Test, however. And the passive influence and presence of women is actually very strong in the draft. In that, I mean in the sense of women being discussed in dialogue and affecting the setting/choices within the story. Gronk’s Mom, for example, isn’t physically around until the very end of the tale. But her presence is felt throughout much of the story because a good deal of it takes place in her house, and her son shares quite a few stories about her. My hope is that when she finally appears towards the finale, the reader’s reaction will be, “Yup, that’s her alright!”

With that in mind, I really didn’t add Corilynn just to place a second girl in the tale. Nor is she intended to be, or used as, a foil to Viv. But I do like how Corilynn’s new presence in the story serves as a catalyst that improves a number of character interactions and a plot points. And I’m always up for making a story better! ;-) Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t have the idea sooner.

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!