Making Headway & Goodbye Virginia – Cute but Unnecessary

Making tamales! Artist: Carmen Lomas Garza

I’ve made good progress on my novel this past month.  I have about 6 chapters left to write.  Once the entire novel is written I’ll go from beginning to end and refine the writing, strengthen the storyline and add depth to each major character.

Something an old friend of mine (and published author) said to me once really left an impression.  Every character in a story (or at least every character that gets a decent amount of play time) should have a purpose.  Same goes for every scene.  Does each character further the plot?  What is his/her purpose?  Would the story be worse off if that chapter or scene were eliminated?  If not, then what’s the point of having it?

With this in mind, I decided to “eliminate” some characters who bogged down the story more than add to it.  So, bye-bye Virginia!  She was the adorable youngest sister (18 months old) in the story.  Cute, yes.  Expendable?  Totally.

I also eliminated another character who was interesting in the few chapters he was in, but didn’t really matter in the long run to the overall plot.  So, bye-bye Lázaro!

The train robbery scene was a good one, but didn’t have much of a purpose other than it added some excitement and was historically accurate for the time period, so I deleted it.

All in all, I’ve cut approximately 30 pages and now have 234 pages (or 67,333 words).  My guess is I’ll end up with about 70,000 words and 260 pages when I’m done.

My purpose is 5-fold:

  • Share the warm, family-oriented, values-based Mexican (and American) culture and traditions I experienced growing up
  • Create inspiring Latino characters
  • Expose readers to the oft forgotten Mexican Revolution and help them understand how it shaped the United States as we know it today
  • Honor my family to whom the book is dedicated
  • Write something people will love, remember and recommend

Lessons learned thus far?  Any endeavor that truly matters takes persistence, patience and determination.  Dream big, then head in the right direction one step at a time.

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