, , , , , , ,

Origins of Blue Lines manuscript…


Keeping The Integrity of the Work…

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.

Alright…this time around I’m not biding my time in Starbucks waiting to head toward the airport.  Let us make this a little bit easier to follow.  Protagonist, from this point forward known by the characters initials KYW, of course we have the antagonist, Blue Hurt.  So let the story continue…

Again, one of my main focuses was to develop a unique and tangible character, therefore I had the initial context on which to build KYW, and the manuscript allowed for her to develop into the main focus of the book.  But, as the manuscript expanded, and began to allow people to read some of the work, the conundrum was to keep the focus pure.  What I mean by pure, is that when writing a manuscript about a woman, through the voice of that woman, and when the woman on which KYW is based is not around, those who are around started to infiltrate the development of my character.

And I had previously mentioned, I did not put much time into reading my evolving work, my goal was to advance the story.  But as I began to approach the threshold of 300+ pages, I had to clean up parts of the manuscript and streamline or address holes in the story.  But a major conundrum lied in the fact that KYW had no physical identity.  Though she had a basis, she was not and did not mentally have the same visual makeup, and this item took some time to develop.  For many years, as I tried to better describe and create my character, she had a face that I could not see.  I could give her clothes, I could see her hair (sometimes problematic), hands, smile…but not a full face for some time.  There were even times where she was a different person, depending on the scene (i.e. real events versus fiction).  And even as she, KYW, resurfaced in a cameo within my second manuscript (but that’s another story).

A specific event that comes to mind occurred in late 1999.  A female friend and I had just talked ourselves into non-existent internship positions in the Psych Ward at Grady Memorial Hospital.  Give me leeway as I set the scene, we spent the morning interviewing, and then worked our way back to get lunch at Peachtree Center at the Atlanta Bread Company.  We probably were not due in until around 3 – 4pm at the office where we worked the evening shift.  So to set a scene, unrelated to Blue Lines, that later fits into my manuscript, in the heat of summer we leave our respective interviews and walk from Grady to Peachtree Street across from AmericasMart.  I was wearing a dark suit, and dress shoes!!!  And as we sit out, silently with not much to say today…I guess we were both basking in the pride of working ourselves into a program that we were not yet qualified for, we just sat out after lunch.  Both waiting to work, and it having made no sense to leave downtown when we had to return for work.  As I sat in the uncomfortable heat, she just basked in the sunlight of the early afternoon.

To bring this full circle, to have a character from California, primarily/originally based on a person who had expressed love for warmth/heat and I guess sun indirectly, coupled with memories of the difference between that person’s change from the winter months, to those of early to late spring.  But I had no current example, or inspiration to express those thoughts and ideas…so as we sit out in that heat in late summer 1999, I saw KYW in her that day.  I had a reference as I watched her lean back her head and smile as the “sun’s glow bathed her.”  Luckily, due in part to the platonic nature of our friendship, I felt no qualms about taking what I could from the experience to further bolster my character.  So she sat there in the sun unwittingly becoming KYW for that hour, as I pulled out my portfolio and began to take notes that I could later apply within my work.

But the problem lied therein also, because in this present situation, I was content in using the material that it provided me.  But let’s say in our everyday conversation, it lead to she and her boyfriend at the time, now husband.  Listening to anything as it related to their relationship could easily filter through me to my pen and then into my work.  Therefore, it was important to be cognizant of when I would use too much of the outside influence when writing, because when it came to supporting characters, that information was acceptable, but when it dealt with my principle characters, the base and outline of who they were, and the characters they became still had simple and identifiable origins.

It was important for me to retain the enigma that KYW was, due to this was her freshman year of college.  She was a teen learning who she was, and becoming the woman she would be later in life.  With the outline of the manuscript set, I could not just allow new or inconsistent traits to become a part of this developing character that did not fit into how she was developing. 


This is wrong on so many levels, so I will simply leave it at this.  As a writer, when you are writing…PLEASE…PLEASE…PLEASE (especially when writing something as personal as what I was writing at the time) don’t date other writers, or rather agree to read the manuscript they are writing when you are writing YOUR manuscript.  That just doesn’t work.  Alright, since I opened that can of worms…ah, maybe next week’s blog.  Because with material like that, you just need to write music…well with that cliff-hanger for this week…

Blog 7 coming next week!!!


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.