I just finished reading my friends' comments on my first chapter. First, I must say that I absolutely adore being the dumb one for once - they actually found typos in my work. NO ONE has EVER found typos in my stories before! I am in love! Furthermore, they actually taught me some grammar rules, like the may/might difference. More than anything, though, I'm thrilled that my writer-group friends helped me find some direction in my novel. Syntax I can handle (for the most part), but I fail at figuring out themes and appropriate endings and bridges between chapters and what to do next.
One major problem I'm having with chapter one is consistency. For example, the old woman is telling her grandchildren a story that she's never told anyone else before, and it's spilling out of her all over the place. The problem is, she uses big words that her grandbabies shouldn't be able to understand. So, either the old lady needs to speak more simply or explain better, or the kids need to seem confused. Part of fixing this error concerns the tone that I want my novel to have overall: do I want my characters to speak eloquently all the time? Is that just the way it is, and kids just magically understand? Or should my characters speak like you and me, i.e. badly? I might go with the eloquent speech all around, because I hate having speech problems and I want my characters to never be forced to go through that. Now, though, I need to help the little children. I don't want to pause every other line to explain things to the little ones. Hmm. Perhaps my kids will just be naturally good at understanding language; they live in Thoughtland after all. Meh, but no, kids need to be ignorant, it's part of being a kid...
We'll see. As Hannah pointed out, it's my first draft, I can "play around with it." I'll just "go with my gut." I actually really like that advice, because that's what I would do anyway, so I feel justified. ;p
(Whoa, emoticons look really freaky in this font.)
(Is that what they're called? Emoticons? Whatever.)
(OK I'm done now.)