The word came back on my most recent revision that, yes, I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.
The story arc is fine, the tension appropriately taught, the characters in place, but it appears I need to give the antagonists narrative arcs as well. Actually, they do have their narrative arcs, I simply haven’t illuminated them all yet. And as characters ebb further from the main character it becomes crucial that these narratives be seen and observed in a way that both the reader and the main character can draw their conclusions together.
I’ll admit, despite working until the last minute on this packet deadline, I secretly hoped the story could be closer to being finished. Hoped, but not realistically. There was a time – maybe six months ago? – when I wasn’t sure if this would ever be finished, if these goofy middle grade boys I had created were simply too elusive for a novice writer like myself. As recently as July I was still considering abandoning them if I had even the faintest hint that their story was beyond my reach. And mind you, this isn’t a complicated or particularly challenging story, but its shape and tone had been elusive to me.
But only a few months later and it keeps feeling closer to being done. The way the horizon keeps moving ahead of you as you walk toward it is a little how this feels. A year ago I would have said, with the completion of the first very rough draft, that I had reached the mountain top, could see the end destination across the valley below though the path was obscured by dense foliage. The analogy works on another level for me because I remember, hiking the Sierra’s as a Boy Scout, how many times we reached a peak or a pass and could see our destination ahead of us but there always seemed to be one more peak perpetually in the way. Finally, we would reach our camp for the day and be surprised because we hadn’t seen it coming, there was no “one last peak” to measure it by.
So that’s where I am right now. Somewhere in between that last peak and the final destination, somewhere in the valley foliage unable to see how close I am to the end. The light is shifting, I can tell progress has been made, and it all seems easier than when I first was getting my mountain legs, but I have no idea where camp is.
My chief antagonist is waiting for some scenes of her own to chew on.