Personal Reflection for The Novel Project

1. Have I connected the Conflict to the overall Theme or message I hope to portray?
 
The plot really works off of the theme in that my character chooses a path based on the fact that she isn’t learning the lesson of the theme. This story is a lot about her learning a lesson, and that lesson is the theme. 
 
2. Have there been hints to the Theme throughout the story?
 
So far I’ve only directly mentioned the theme once or twice, although I think I’ve alluded to it generally the entire time. 
 
3. What should my reader know at this point about each character?
 
At this point the reader should know that Ella is determined, striving for a high moral ground, unwilling to settle, and yet terribly lonely. This loneliness is so strong that it comes to compromise her. 
 
Frederick is not a very well known character, nor is he supposed to be. He is in fact the mystery of the whole story. You want to keep reading because you want to find out who he is. 
 
4. Could a reader guess the ending of my story or are there still surprises to come?
 
I think that would depend on the reader. Someone might pick up a few things here and there to form a general idea of where the story is going, but the climax is not particularly a pleasant one. Because of that it is a topic often avoided and probably will not come to the minds of the readers. I intentionally left seedlings to hint at the doubt of Frederick’s character, but I have not produced any real hints at the crimes he has committed, or will at least attempt to commit. 
 
5. How would my readers feel at this point? Would they be emotionally invested?
 
I hope the readers are so far emotionally invested. Honestly I think that so far the story is lacking. It’s a little bit flat, a little bit dry, a little bit repetitive  I don’t know what to add to flesh it out anymore. I hope that my readers are feeling the stress of Ella, the tension of her trying to make a decision that could lead to her happiness or her ruin, or to the repeated disappointment of her mother and her friends. 
 
6. Have I used literary devices, such as metaphor, simile, alliteration, symbolism, irony, etc?
 
All the chapter titles are a metaphor of the story as a sailing voyage. The entire story is intended to be symbolism of the Christian life. 
 
7. Am I staying true to my original Plot Outline?
 
I am mostly maintaining the original plot line, but I’ve deviated here and there with the timing as I’ve developed the story. 
 
8. Are there changes I need or want to make?
 
I would really like to go back and add more detail to the story. Also, to preserve historical accuracy, and to place it in a time frame for a certain historical event to happen in the climax I need to change the time frame from 1840, to 1870 or 1880. I’ve been researching as I’ve been writing and realized that the sewing machine was not used commercially in 1840 as well as the fact that I’d like the characters to attend a Spurgeon church service.
I also want to go back and add more detail in the previous chapters, for example going into clothing descriptions. (Ms. Gaines also recommended this.) 
 
9. Am I staying on top of important revisions according to feedback?
 
I have mostly edited the story according to the feedback, although I still need to make a few grammar changes in my posted stories. 
 
10. Am I energized about the Novel Project or feeling stuck?
 
That depends on what part of the story we are talking about. I’m confused about some of the developing plot line in the next few chapters, but quite excited about the ending. I’ve struggled to keep the story from being monotonous  and I fear I haven’t done too well. I’m also concerned that it’s become plain, all about one thing, while every life is infinitely complex. A lot of things happening in the background do not come to the forefront until the climax, so I’m afraid it may have a strange 2D effect that will turn the reader upside down into 3D. That could potentially be great, but it could also be really awkward. I’m considering moving the climax closer to the middle of the story than the end. 
 
11. Am I proud of my work?
 
I am certainly pleased with many aspects of the story, but I want to give all that I have, and I hope that I can. I know that some of the chapters previously are not as good as they could be. 
 
12. What have I learned from this experience so far?
 
Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ve learned. It’s difficult to take a bundle of experiences that I have just come through and say, “Bingo! Here’s the grand lesson!” I’ve learned that characters are infinitely complex and often hard to portray correctly to provide the needed effect. I’ve also learned that it’s hard to show the full spread of the story from the mind of one girl who is lost in her own world. In a way I like it, because I’m hoping to make the reader feel the same trapped feeling as the main character, and then the release when you learn the truth and it sets you free. So, it’s an adventure, one with lessons I have yet to realize I have learned. 
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