My book was wallowing a bit lamely, what with having a plot full of holes, like a fish with half its bones missing. Then I had a bright idea of putting a sub-plot in from a historical event and the whole thing inflated like a puffer fish and took off with me in pursuit. Better than that, the POV character is a crook, so much more interesting than some virtuous hero. Being a crook, he's extra sensitive to other people who might be dodgy too. I like him, he's sort of funny (even though I know he's not real and I'm just channeling some crooked, funny side of myself) and a good foil for my scholarly John Dee. The story is legitimately set around real events, which are actually rather stranger than than I'm going to make them. Our main antagonist, for example, was actually born five years after her father died. I like the idea of the character who exists in both the sixteenth century and the modern day to sort of collide in the middle of the book, when I match them up. Should be fun. My teenage character is getting less of a point of view and is being downplayed a bit, while I develop the main character. I write my smaller characters more vividly than the central characters, I don't know why but I've noticed lots of people do. Even published authors sometimes leave the main characters a bit unfocused.
Tonight we had a great talk by two editors from Working Partners who offered a lot of very useful advice. Listening to one of them, Sara Grant, talking about her journey to get her book, Dark Parties published (coming out soon) was inspiring and entertaining. An extract from the novel was published in the first Undiscovered Voices anthology (2008) published by SCBWI (which is sponsored by Working Partners). It was a fantastically energetic round up of another way to approach getting published as a children's writer, which wouldn't have made a lot of sense to me a year ago, because I have always written children's stories. I just never took it very seriously (oh, but doesn't everyone knock out short stories, poems and plays for their children? Apparently not.) but I am really enjoying writing a piece for my assignment about a girl who has to fit into a completely different way of life, and her relationship with a talking bird.
We also listened to the process of getting our dissertations underway, which was a bit daunting. I have had one of these helpful pep talks already, but promptly went into denial anyway. Silly me. What dissertation?