Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Katie of Whisperings of the Pen is hosting a wonderful event this month titled Actually Finishing Something July. The idea is to set a writing goal for yourself and be held accountable by a group of fellow inklings to reach that goal before August 1st. Each week Katie is giving us a list of questions to answer about our work in progress, which will help to keep us on track, as well as keeping everyone else updated on how we are progressing. In a nutshell, it's a more mild, more versatile, more summery form of National Novel Writing Month. Sounds like great fun, does it not?
Here are the questions for Week #1:
What is your writing goal?
I am hoping to get at least 20,000 words into Rifles in the South Field.
Tell us about this project. Give us a small synopsis.
Calm, efficient, and organized, Susannah Dixon has had everything in her life under control since the day she learned walk. Even her mother's tragic death by influenza when Susannah was ten years old has not shaken this young woman's foundation. Now the mistress of her family's plantation in colonial Georgia, she takes pride in the fact that her father trusts her completely with all affairs of the household, including planning meals, organizing the house slaves' chores, and the like. But when the Georgia militia is called up and Mr. Dixon is compelled to help in the fight for freedom, Susannah begins to notice cracks in her seemingly perfect world. Can she manage to keep the large plantation running during her papa's absence, or will she be forced to ask for help for the first time in her life?
How long have you been working on this project?
Not long; I began mentally plotting Rifles less than a week ago.
Introduce us to three of your favorite characters in this project.
Susannah Dixon is the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Dixon. She is of medium height, being neither tall or short, and possesses a great deal of ringleted strawberry blonde hair. Organized and efficient, she has taken over management of all household matters since her mother's death six years ago. She is proud of the fact that her father is able to put complete trust in her abilities. Her nearly perfect world seems apt to fall apart when her father announces his intentions on joining the Georgia militia, and she realizes that not everything in life can be controlled.
Samuel Dixon is Susannah's father and owner of the Dixon plantation. Since his wife's death, he has grown especially close to his only daughter, being forced to hand over all indoor affairs to her capable hands. When the Georgia militia is called up, Mr. Dixon realizes that the cause for liberty is more important than sitting at home in comfort. Though he hates to leave Susannah on her own, he knows he can trust his daughter with the plantation's affairs.
Aunt Nelly is the plantation's renowned cook. When Susannah was a young girl, she used to imagine that the older slave woman was a magician, and in a sense, she was not far off, for Aunt Nelly knows just the right length of time to whip cream to absolute perfection and can spell the difference between a perfect pie crust and a crumbled one. She has been something of a mother to Susannah in the years following Elizabeth Dixon's death, and when seated (which is hardly ever), her expansive lap has been known to hold many little children eager to hear a story.
How often do you intend to write in order to reach this goal by August first?
A little every day — not too much to overwhelm me, but enough to keep me fluent in the language of my characters.
How will you make your characters behave long enough to finish this goal?
As mentioned in the question above, I plan to write often enough so that I remain articulate in their tongue. Characters, I find, grow stubborn or distant when one has abandoned them for a long space of time. And if all else fails, I'll ask Aunt Nelly to whip up one of her famous baked apple puddings.
Go to page 16 (or 6, 26, or 66!) of your writing project. Pick your favorite line or snippet on the page.
Having not begun Rifles as of yet, I am unable to do so.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, in a bottomless cup with just the right amount of sugar. On the days that are unbearably hot, iced tea wouldn't be unwelcome either.