Veronique Darwin

Posts Tagged ‘Jillian’

Haircuts

In Inspiration, Thoughts on Writing on August 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

I listened to this audio of two girls explaining a haircut (very rational, very cute).

“Everyone does that kind of stuff sometimes. It happens like once, or twice, or three times in every life. Once. Or twice. I mean once.”

I got my hair cut two days ago. It wasn’t dramatic, but I lost an earring on the ground and found it near the end of the haircut, amidst hair balls. I used to only get haircuts if they were dramatic. Now I’m trying to grow out my hair (like a lady) and only cut it for maintenance purposes. This means about every year.

There is something about haircuts that is so weird. What other bodily items (besides hair on legs and faces and elsewhere) do we try and get rid of all the time? Nails. Maybe like ear wax. Dry skin. Gunk on teeth. But hair – we love our hair. And still, we chop it off.

The main character who has been following me around for years has long dark straight hair. This is non-negotiable. Her name is now Jillian and she is the purpose of my novel. She used to have other names; she lived in failed stories. Always with long dark hair. Nothing else mattered. Maybe she didn’t speak as much or as quickly as I did. But mostly she just had long dark hair.

“I can’t imagine her hair long anymore. It’s been so long since I cut it.”

What if I made Jillian get a haircut? How would that change her? I got a hair cut. I’m not undergoing an identity crisis. Jillian would be (or I would be for Jillian).

What would a haircut mean symbolically in my story? I got a haircut. I’m not on a new path in life. Jillian would be. Or I would make her be.

Cutting hair is taking something away. It will grow back, but from the other end. The hair you cut lays there on the floor. All hair, once it’s escaped your scalp, is already dead. It’s just waiting for you to separate yourself from it. But you hang on so long.

I wonder if when I finish Jillian’s novel someone else’s hair will be my focus. Will hair always be my impetus for character? And if character is the driving force behind novels, then will hair always make my novels? I imagine a girl with dreadlocks. A woman with red hair. I imagine someone who has lost their hair – all of it.

We read a story every Christmas, The Gift of the Maji by O. Henry. It’s the story of a haircut, of how a haircut transformed a couple’s life together. So maybe this isn’t so far off.

(from Wikipedia)

Do you like my narrator?

In My Writing on July 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Jillian is sort of rude. At one point she raises her middle finger at a passing motorist. She doesn’t like that her boyfriend holds on to parts of her body in public. Is Jillian unlikable, or is Jillian all the nagging things you hate about yourself?

I read that protagonists don’t have to be likable, they just have to be polarizing. If people hate the person they’re reading about, they won’t stop reading. They feel passion in this enmity; they are in love with the act of hating.

But I’m in love with Jillian – I’m in love with all my main characters – so I want you to be too. Is that greedy? Do I need to just let Jillian loose on the world?

I tried to make Jillian more likable when it was brought to my attention she wasn’t (as of her introduction in Chapter One, at least). Here are some ways I changed that first chapter around to make Jillian a bit more readable:

-She is now a bad driver

-She now only pretends to like Scotch

-She now puts up with a lot of shit

-Her neighbours now like her

-She now became friends with her plane partner

-She now says thank you

-She now loves her boyfriend (secretly)

I would suggest doing things like this to your own narrator, if only to make them more personable. An unlikeable protagonist must still be personable in order to be hated. If a protagonist is closed off, where’s the story? I don’t want to read the point of view of a flat character with only one personality trait. I want to read a character that has so many faults, some of which I think are cute, some of which I recoil from (because they’re also mine).

Maybe the more faulted I make Jillian the more likable she becomes. And open. She has to be open. After all, she allegedly wrote this book.

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