Origins of Blue Lines manuscript…Part um
Disclaimer – Before I continue, I would like to make two very important points in regard to my material and to anyone’s feelings. Because of my intellectual property, and my goal for this to begin my being published, I have to be vague in many areas of the story’s actual content. I would like to add that should anyone be offended by ANYTHING that I go forward with: 1) if it will offend you, please read objectively, my goal is not and has never been to embarrass or disrespect anyone; 2) although I am explaining why Blue Lines was written, this is a public forum and names will be omitted to protect the innocent; 3) if you know me now, and did not then, this also applies as this relates to why I wrote my work.
So here I was, I had already gotten too deep into this unconventional relationship. I had kind of pegged myself into a strange corner, where I knew what I wanted, and didn’t act. With us losing touch, the impetus and structure of the manuscript began to take place. Now with this focus, I was able to string together my thoughts, and the story of Blue Lines chronologically, and develop a cohesive story, in stark contrast to the original draft of scattered plot development.
The Beginning, part II…
First I had to assign names to my characters, my female protagonist could no longer hold the name of “L,” and I could not seriously allow my male antagonist to continue on with a best friend named “Mello Smoothe.” Therefore I had to draw from my collections of influences in my life and writing. Although, my story grew out of an anomalous friendship, I could not also create my composite character using her real name, or an apparent construction of her name (i.e. using her Middle Name, as the characters name), therefore drawing on influences ranging from friends, music, etc. I was able to create a name that not only drew from that time, but I used parts of my Cuban heritage, and a name that fit in with the tone of my work to give my character her own identity, and allow for the development of the character over the writing process.
To create my antagonists name, I allowed a lot of the development and naming to be drawn from myself, and his full name draws from my personal history, although his name at face value still echoes no part of me. Though wanting to create a separation of myself, and this character, in writing the manuscript from the first person view of the main female character, you only learn of the characters through her view, therefore her perception develops the characters. This then leads to the process of naming, and developing my other characters. I used my network around me in the development of my additional characters. Blue Hurt’s friend, formerly “Mello Smoothe,” I’m sorry, but that still cracks me up, is a true composite four friends and his name draws from my Grandfather, brother and two friends. One of my goals was to have the ability to have characters who, although some of their traits, or actions may draw from real people, or experiences, they have enough within their descriptions to be able to stand alone and foster development into unique characters, and add to my storyline.
One night, while using a friend’s computer at Georgia Tech, the sleepless, walkman sponsored night manifested with a weary morning, and my floppy disk containing a 21 page version of the previous 5 page outline (for lack of a better term). Now not to laud myself, but in my effort in working on my manuscript that night I began to have the realistic belief that writing and finishing this manuscript was a real and attainable goal. It was an achievement to see that my goal, and dream was now taking shape. Soon I had a writing project in my Creative Writing class, and I outlined that as the date to begin to reveal this initial version to the world, I guess it was my first test audience. In having this goal I had to items that I had to address, a) due to my non-stop writing, I had to learn to restrain my writing, so that I would have a story to present for the class; b) I also forwarded this initial work to be copyrighted, as my goal was to have Blue Lines published and I could not present this initial work without protecting myself. The initial work that I had completed was well received within its first presentation…unfortunately, not being the public speaker I had to read the story in my class.
Echoing that first endless night of nonstop writing, the fire was lit within me, and whenever I had free time, I was working on the manuscript. Working at a front desk, I had the laptop setup and was writing, sitting in Starbucks (on a budget), milking a single Frappuccino (my meal…struggling artist) for several hours, while consumed by the ideas that flowed from my head through my fingers and saved onto a disk. Very soon 21 pages grew to 50 pages, and grew to 100 pages, and I was forced to save my manuscript on two, then three, then four disks. When I did not have a computer at my disposal, I wrote in my notebook, and transferred the writing to the computer whenever I could.
During this initial writing period, in the rare event that I had no material to write, I would develop little projects, either writing a character description document, or focusing on a single scene, and writing that scene, and figuring out whether I could fit the new scene, or portions of the expanded scene into the manuscript.
Another tool that I used was any letter or correspondence that I had written during the time that the base friendship that fostered this new version/direction of my manuscript and I built around that writing. Using these items, or the parts that could be used, an effectively made sense within the work, allowed for the prospective reader to get a view into the mind of my antagonist, who, though important to the story, is only described through perspective of his relationship with the main character of Blue Lines and their interactions, and her thoughts or feelings in regard to the Blue Hurt character. Also, using these items allowed a window back to how I may have felt during that time, and especially in the early years of writing 1998 – 1999 made the story more realistic, than if I had tried to convey the same emotional themes in writing the work 4 – 5 years later.
Also in the early period of writing, I did not really read the work. To better explain, since I was moving forward and adding new content chronologically in the growth of the 2 main characters story/relationship, I had no time/reason to look back to the earlier chapters and earlier relationship because a) I was on a roll in my writing; b) as I grew with the characters, like many relationships that we have in our lives, we live in the here and now, and forget why we initially fell into these relationships and or arrangements. The goal was for the characters to grow change, but also to forget some of those things that may have felt or seemed silly today, that made the connection so special initially. But, also my aim was to make the characters as realistic as possible in their young personal development.
Next week, Continued in Blog 6.
The manuscript Blue Lines is a fictional period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., that takes place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.
Always feel free to give your comments, and/or suggestions.