I am still editing characters for my novel. I want characters that are memorable… and I want a plot that moves people. For the characters to be memorable, and a plot that is moving, then the characters really need to pop. This is probably why character editing is my favorite stage in the novel writing process.
(from the Nation, by Michelle Chen) On their campus set amid the idyllic northwestern woodlands, graduate students at the University of Oregon stepped out of their classrooms and onto a historic picket line last week. The union, representing some 1,500 graduate teaching fellows, went on an eight-day strike and emerged Wednesday with a final deal, embattled but triumphant.
The agreement, now set for a final vote, fell somewhat short of their central request for paid family and medical leave. Instead, the university will establish a “hardship fund” to support graduate students who need time off to tend to healthcare needs, including students who are not employees or union members. From a fund of about $150,000 ($50 per graduate student), students will apply for grants “up to $1,000 in the case of serious medical issues and $1,500 in the case of the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child.” Click here for the: Full story at the Nation, by Michelle Chen
Friends… I know you follow this blog for fiction writing, foster care, and or marathon running. Well… sometimes reality provides great inspiration for fiction writing.
The University of Oregon Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) is on strike. They have been on strike since December 2nd. The sticking points in negotiation are two weeks of paid leave.
This is the first graduate student strike in the history of the University of Oregon. What makes it stranger is the bizarre comments made by the administration. Scott Coltrane, interim President at the University of Oregon, has said two-weeks of paid leave is not possible… even though he built his career on advocating for parental leave.
Corey Robin wrote: The GTFF demands are modest. Indeed, Eugene, where the University of Oregon is located, is mandating sick leave benefits for all workers across the city. But because university employees are exempted, the GTFF must bargain for them.
(An irony at the heart of this labor dispute is that the interim university president, Scott Coltrane, is a sociologist whose work is focused on family leave. He has been featured in The Atlantic, on NPR and was even at the White House last June to speak about the importance of parental leave policies. Such are the corporate institutional imperatives of universities today that his administration feels compelled to oppose such policies for graduate employees. )
The strike could end up making a mess of final exams,and final papers. As well as making a mess of campus.
The GTFF strike could result in a quite stinky campus. If an agreement isn’t reached between the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university, University of Oregon’s garbage will not be collected.
The Teamsters Local #206 union, which includes Sanipac drivers, issued a 72-hour notice that it will not cross the picket lines.
It gets stranger, friends. The University of Oregon is willing to go so far as to compromise the integrity of the grades and diplomas it issues.
In the Register-Guard story, Diane Dietz writes...The United Academics, which represents 1,800 UO faculty, is protesting administration plans to — in some cases — assign final grades in GTF-led classes based on student work turned in up to Dec. 1.
“(The administration) politicized the grading system at the University of Oregon in order to limit the tactical leverage of the GTFF. They compromised the core academic integrity of the grading process in order to win in this labor battle,” said Michael Dreiling, sociology professor and president of the United Academics. “They’re using it, at minimum, as a power play or a point of leverage — to say you can’t win this strike. We’ve got grades covered.”
John Protevi’s blog had a strong statement in an open letter to the University of Oregon (you should definitely read the entire letter):
I urge you to give the graduate students what they’re asking for, cease the morally repugnant behavior, and manifest a little integrity.
Will athletes be academically eligible with the “integrity” of these grades compromised? Will diplomas hold the same value? Give strong consideration to what is happening at the University of Oregon… because this educational crisis is not an isolated incident. If tuition continues to rise for college education, where are these tuition fees going if not to pay the teachers? At least the football stadium looks amazing.
Currently there is a moveon.org petition urging the University of Oregon administration to abandon its stranger than fiction campaign against the graduate teaching fellows. I encourage you to sign it and share it with others.
Nearly a month ago, a character began following me. Well now this character has a name… and a friend. Unfortunately for me, this friend is a genius. I am not stupid, but writing a genius is a little intimidating.
After I finished my initial panic, I did a quick google search, which revealed the following sites:
I think my main concern is the level of research I will need to do, just to make my genius come off as a genius. No, I’m not talking about inventing a time machine, although that would be badass! But reading up on all the cool, yet complicated, theories that my genius would know about is going to take a lot of time.
I don’t need to fully understand physics… but I need to make it look like my genius character is a master of physics. I am nervous about making a very basic mistake. Kind of like, on a more simple level… if a woman is writing about male behavior in a public restroom. A woman might make a very basic mistake of thinking men in public restrooms talk to each other. Generally, men do not talk to each other… and men try to avoid eye contact in public restrooms. Very basic, but because a woman does not use the male restrooms on a regular basis, women would not know this.
I do not engage with physics on a regular basis.
How to write a genius character… sigh. I can do mentally troubled characters… men and women… violent, funny, thoughtful… scared. But I’ve never tried to write a genius character before.
Climbing the “Novel Writing Mountain” has its highs, lows, and false peaks.
However, I finished the story edit phase of the novel. The story editing phase is where I go through the entire novel and iron out all the rough spots in the plot. Finally the main plot, and the subplots, make sense throughout the entire story. This also means that I have finally reached my favorite stage of the storytelling process. I call this stage the character editing stage.
Currently my novel is 69,898 words. I expect the final novel will be between 70,000 to 120,000 words. Guessing the final length will be much easier after I finish the character editing stage. The character editing stage is where I develop character history, character dialect, style, etc. In addition, I make sure dialect and style is consistent for each character.
For example, not every character is going to use slang… or cuss… or call someone “honey.” I enjoy reading work by indie authors. But a pet peeve of mine for new/indie authors is when every character acts and sounds exactly the same. It doesn’t matter if the ebook is free or not… I get irritated quickly with poor character development.
In addition, in the character editing stage, I edit each character individually. I go line by line in the dialogue, making sure each character has a unique voice… a unique style, etc. It appears as though I have a total of 53 characters in the story. Some of these characters do not have a line to speak. Some have just a handful of lines. I have 31 of these ultraminor characters. I anticipate it will take half a day to edit these ultraminor characters. But even the ultraminor characters will get individual attention.
Other characters are important minor characters, and of course there are a few major characters. The bulk of my character editing time will be spent on the important minor characters and the major characters. I expect the character editing process to take around two to four weeks. This process will add between 0 to 50,000 words to my current ‘net’ word total.
What are some of your novel writing tips?