I keep saying that there's "stuff" I need to do to my novel before it's *ready*, but I haven't said what that "stuff" is really. So, here's a rundown, starting with comments I received on my final thesis from my adviser and preceptor at The University of Chicago.
The parallel story lines
Charlotte's storyline in 1792/1793 is much stronger and focused than Anne's in 2005. I'm creating more of a narrative drive for Anne's story by first focusing on what motivates her and why. But these story lines are now merging more than they ever before, because...
Anne and Charlotte: POV
All of my drafts at UofC were in 3rd person. Anne and Charlotte were two distinct characters, even though Anne travelled into the past and saw what Charlotte saw (somewhat like Being John Malkovich) during the French Revolution. The problem that my advisers saw - and which irritated me as I wrote - was that Anne seemed to disappear behind Charlotte as the novel progressed. I've been changing the entire novel from 3rd to 1st, making Anne the central character. In this way, the characters of Anne and Charlotte have merged, and Anne is deciding whether she should follow what she knows of history or forever change what Charlotte is known for, which leads me to...
How does Charlotte become a murderer?
In third person, I wasn't showing enough of why Charlotte decided to kill Marat, especially when she constantly preached moderation and peace. (A couple months ago, I wouldn't have written on my blog what Charlotte was famous for, but since a Google search will tell you, I'm building the plot around things other than Charlotte's murderous act). In first person, and with an Anne becoming Charlotte, Anne has agency. She knows Charlotte's thoughts, has her memories, has to act like she is Charlotte to fool the rest of the world - but does Anne decide to kill Marat? Or does she forever change the course of the French Revolution and of history?
Other than my adviser and preceptor's comments, there's other things I'm working on.
The character's relationships
Especially Anne's relationship to her dad, French grandmother, and Pierre. Anne is one angry teen and she lets her dad and grandmother know it. With Pierre, on the other hand, expect more chemistry than before.
Anne's going through a lot of personal things, especially in coming to terms with what happened with her mother, and in the first couple drafts of Through Charlotte's Eyes she didn't really have anyone she feels like she could talk to. Charlotte, too, feels isolated and alone because no one in her family agrees with her political beliefs. But isolation doesn't make for plot. I've added a few more characters that act, in ways, like side-kicks to Anne and Charlotte. I wrote a bit about this in my post yesterday.
I originally wrote a few scenes in which Anne decides to not do something because she knows her grandmother wouldn't approve. (Like go to Caen - where Charlotte lived for about ten years - because of the riots ravaging the countryside). But as I'm changing the POV from 3rd to 1st, these scenes don't jibe with who Anne is. So, now, Anne's rebelling. And, oh, the drama that this creates! Gotta love the drama.
I need to visit Paris. That trip will affect so much of this novel that I can't even consider myself close to finished until I make it there. Trip dates: TBD - but know that I will go there (hopefully by the end of the year).
These are just some of the things I'm working on that are the reasons why the novel isn't ready yet. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there.