Art / Feminism / Lit / Staff Picks

Starting From Scratch: NaNoWriMo Day 8

I started over again only 4 days in.  I gave up on my original story, one I thought about before the month started and hopped in to something else. This was something different, playing with constructs of classic stories and literature, only I swapped the gender roles.

Why did I make this change so early into the month? I fell out of love, or even out of like with my original story.  It wasn’t fitting my mindframe and it wasn’t fitting the emotions I’ve been having over the last month.  It wasn’t dark enough. it wasn’t daring enough, and even only 800 words in it felt stale.

Am I concerned about not reaching the goal at the end of the month?  No more than I was before.  Though now I have more drive and thanks to deciding to make it more of a Shakespearean tragedy, I now I have more push to plot points and the emotional core is darker, something I’m just responding to right now.

Even my whole play on gender roles and issues brought up last week has come through to more clarity.  I feel like my story has intention, more than just in the plot arch.  I’ve found that I actually have something to say with it, even though the thesis of it all is something I’m still figuring it out, hence my vagueness…. and for that, I apologize.

So what am I writing about?  

A fantasy that takes place at a University surrounding the head of the university’s daughter–she’s responding to the sudden and unexplained death of her father.  Family intrigue, paranoia, daddy issues, mommy issues, and focusing on a female lead who’s trying to figure it all out and trying to serve vengeance to where it is due.  I’m still naming my lead Asha, but she’s totally different in the new story.  She’s a more fleshed-out character.

I’m writing this story in the 1st person POV. I already hit a point where, while writing, I wondered if the reader would know the gender of the main character until either her name was spoken or until something obvious was pointed out by her.  This brought me back to a memory from a creative writing class I took back in high school.

One of my classmates was reading aloud from the 1st chapter of a story she was working on.  She finished reading, we gave feedback, and it got to the point where the author of the work being critiqued could vocalize some questions and concerns she wanted help working through.

She asked if it was at all obvious or clear that the main character was a woman.  No name was given, no hints, no nothing.  I said yes, of course she was a woman, but then came the questions of whether or not it had to do with the person reading it aloud being female or if it was just me clinging to the story as if it was through my eyes.

Some of the boys in the class said they thought the main character was a man, but even they weren’t sure.

We then dove into how she could hint at the character’s gender without being cliche… I don’t remember us reaching a resolution to this.  I don’t think we did at all. Because gender is so fluid.

While I encounter this question in my own writing–though I have already addressed it–I wonder if it’s truly necessary.  Can a story be told without gender allusions? Just some notes to mull over as I charge forward into week 2.

Word Count: 1,114 (yeah, I know I’m behind)

Jax is a digital video and documentary producer living in the heartland. You can follow her highjinks @Jtoddles

featured image from LPcoverLovers.com

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