Birth of a Novel - Chapter 3

This is the third entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

Chapter three took a little while longer to finish. This is definitely a character development chapter. We see Zydeco in his immediate neighborhood, meeting a few of the characters - the newstand owner, one of the subway token booth operators. The city begins to breathe a little - I hope.

But above all, we meet Magenta Cashcan, the woman who took Zydeco in when he, like her and the rest of the city's mythological creatures were banished from their world. She functions as his mother, and he as her son. She's a chain smoking, red meat eating former dragon, who swears and walks their tenement apartment in a housecoat, the color of which befits her name. She truly misses being a dragon, and I try to actually make you feel her longing.

I'm also trying to build a strong relationship between these two, because it'll be hugely important later on. I think they sometimes act like a squabbling brother and sister, and sometimes like mother and son. I truly believe they adore each other, which amazes me. It's an entirely different experience writing character driven, and my fictional children surprise me on every page. (So do my real ones.) Here's a sample exchange between them.

“I see you caught Mr. Patel on the way up.”

The door opened right into the kitchen, and flipping the door shut behind me, I made for the refrigerator. The stale smell of tobacco filled my nose. “Yes, ma’am.” I leaned into the coolness of the open fridge, eyeing the leftover steak, roast beef and burgers, before pulling out a coke. No white meat, fish or vegetables in this house.

She’d gone down the hall to the back bedroom, her theoretically well ventilated smoking place, but her voice carried nonetheless. So did the smoke. “Unless you want a slap, don’t you go calling me ma’am.”

I chugged half the bottle and belched the words, “Yes, ma’am.”

She strolled back through the kitchen, a sly grin around a lit cigarette, and whacked me on the backside with the back of her hand. “You’re a snotty little mouth breather, you know that?”

Toward the end of the chapter, there's this really sweet moment between the two, where Magenta just sort of goes into a dreamy state, gazing out the window at the sky, missing her life before. I really hope I got it right.

That's what I'm most concerned with in this chapter and really everything else in this book I think. Getting these relationships just right. They're definitely not one-dimensional. I want you the reader to love these two characters for the individuals they are.

This is definitely not a plot-mover, but more of a setting-you-up kind of deal. I hope it works.

To see what I think about chapter two, you can go back to the previous entry if you like.

You can slide on over here to read about chapter four.


Ralene said...

I love your excerpt there. You show great characterization through showing instead of telling. Fantastic! I can't wait til you come back to the group in October!

Jay said...

Wow, Ralene, big-biG-bIG-BIG Thank you's! I'll be back, with chapters in hand. :-)