Hello, fellow campaigners of the writing world! A. F. Kopp is here early Tuesday morning. Like early, early. Like 12:20 am because I don’t want to sleep and am on a creative splurge–which is a rarity these days.
I just finished Chapter 6 of the developmental edits of The Hope of Hattie Phelan, so I finally have something to write about. And I’m actually kinda happy about how it’s turning out. I’ve added quite a few words since I’m adding some flashbacks to deepen Hattie’s past with her work and her father.
And that is sort of what I want to talk about. The growth of Hattie’s story and the growth of her character (and me growing as a writer in the process).
Some, though few, know this: Hattie wasn’t always called Harriet Phelan. In fact, the first IDEA of these characters, her name was Evelyn Stray, but that was almost a completely different plot and project. This “version” of my story started with her name being Agathe Landing. I often created names close to my own when I didn’t know what to call them (lol), but after finishing the first draft I wanted to change it. So I changed it to something more Irish (since she is 50% Irish). I wanted to name her something not only more Irish but something from my family line. I knew far back (I didn’t know where or by who we were related) we had ancestors with the last name Phelan. And I thought that it sounded right so I came up with a fitting first time and low and behold, Hattie Phelan came to be. Funnily enough, I found out after I named her Phelan, that the Phelans in our family were from Iowa! Funny, right? it all comes full circle.
But I’ve always struggled with writing Hattie. I couldn’t get her character right. She would be really aggressive and grumpy (as an only character trait/flaw), so when I was brainstorming what she would act like when she was older and more mature, I was stuck. I had only seen her as a grumpy little whippersnapper. So, I had to go back to step 1. I had to figure out who Hattie was before the death of her mother (which imbittered her). So, after brainstorming, I discovered that I wanted her to be a practical, by-the-book type of girl who is just trying to stay in her lane. And from draft 2 forward, she was like that. But some things were left unsaid. Like reasons for her to be that way.
And it just came to me after developmental edits (almost three years after starting Hattie’s story), that I needed to delve into more of her past. Not only her Da (since I kinda forgot about him, oops) but her work life. As I’ve studied factory work over the years, the abuse that has happened there breaks my heart. And I left it all out. I kind of shoved her Chicago days behind her unless it related to the loss of her mom and brother, and that wasn’t right.
So, now I’m exploring the rough life she had in flashbacks and in mindsets she has, which I’m excited to explore. And it’s also lengthening my word count, lol.
So, Hattie has changed so much. But my main theme of hers hasn’t: growth. Her whole story is about being so alone and finding hope in the world around her even if it isn’t what she thought it would be. In order to change, you need to get from point A to point B, and there are steps people have to take (decisions they have to make) to progress toward their goals.
And I’m dealing with a lot of themes: loss, abuse, loneliness, bitterness, anger, jealousy, etc. All these things that Hattie is feeling are intertwined into her interactions with different characters and all strings won’t be tied by the end of book one. Just because she finds hope in Jesus, doesn’t mean every hurt in her is healed in an instant. Healing takes time. And I, for one, am going through a lot of that right now. So, it’s hard to write about Hattie who is going through this turmoil of emotions, because I can relate to her in ways. But it needs to be said. Dealing with these things saved versus not saved is REAL. And that’s what I want to write about. Real things. Not some romanticized Christianity. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have hope. My life has been crazy and a mess lately, but at least I have hope. Hope that God will see me through to the end of it. Hope that things will get better. Hope that I can grow from this. And that’s something God is teaching me. And I hope, through writing my books, He can show you, too.
Thank you for reading! What are you looking forward to about Hattie?
Salutations, fellow adventurers!