I think I may finally understand why I want to badly to keep the character of Dana Barrington in Damen.
It occurred to me just after I reviewing yesterday’s post, but I wanted to sleep on it and take a break from writing to be really sure of what I want to do, which is remove Amber’s suicide attempt, but I’ll get to that part later.
Here is an except from Flight and all that I ever wrote of Dana Barrington’s character in that book:
Olivia stepped off the elevator on her floor and trekked toward her apartment door, weighed down by the stacks of files in her bag and those being carried under her arm. All of the documents and images that pertained to Dana Barrington’s rape case were in her possession and she was scheduled to testify at the trial the next day. She knew she was ready for the trial as she had testified at many previous to this one, but she hauled everything home to review just as a comfort to herself.
Dana Barrington was a high school student who had been brought into a hospital after being found bleeding profusely in an alley. She had attempted to perform an abortion on herself with a wire hanger and nearly killed herself in the process. After she was admitted, the detectives learned that she had been raped several months earlier and that she could not tell anyone about what had happened to her. Dana had said that she was too embarrassed to say anything because she had walked home alone and she knew she should not have.
The rapist, Gregory Lars, had been apprehended by the DNA provided by Dana’s baby who was born premature, but healthy, two months later. Lars had been preying on adolescent girls in the city for years, but it was only with this case that they had the DNA needed to convict him.
On Friday, Olivia was supposed to testify about Lars’ behavior when he was finally caught. She had no qualms about testifying in front of Lars, who had actually hit her in the stomach while she had him against a wall, but her nerves were slightly on edge when it came to facing the victim again. Dana’s large brown eyes displayed nothing but innocence and she knew only too well that a child born to a raped victim, especially one as young as Dana, would not be as loved as he could be. She knew that upon seeing Dana in court, she would want to tell her what was coming in her life and what she should tell her son as he grew up, but she knew she could not. It was not her place to do so.
Friday January 19, 2007
New York County Courthouse
Olivia stood in a corridor outside of the courtroom where she had just testified against Gregory Lars looking for Dana Barrington and her family. When it seemed like she had missed them in the bustle of people flowing out of the courtroom at recess just before noon, Olivia spotted a sixteen-year-old with brown hair and large brown eyes holding a baby carrier.
“Olivia!” Dana said, the moment her eyes reached Olivia’s.
She handed the baby to her mother standing next to her, crossed the corridor in three steps and hugged Olivia.
“Thank you,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Thank you so much.”
“It’s no problem. It’s what I do.”
…and that’s it. That’s all I wrote about Dana Barrington’s character in Flight, so I’ve been so puzzled why this character in particular has caused me so much stress in the past couple years, but finally! Finally, I think I know why.
Dana’s story is brief, but very sad. Here she was, a young college bound girl, with almost no problems at all and, through no fault of her own, she was attacked and impregnated. Dana did what I considered I would have done had I been in her situation and pretended it didn’t happen until the problem, literally, grew too big for her to ignore.
When I think of this character, I feel like I need to see her through this. I need to see that she’s happy and healthy and that life goes on. Not because I’ve personally experienced this, but because I just need to know that at least somewhere, life goes on.
Yes, I know that these are fictional characters of my own making, but I feel them and know them as if these were people I could touch. For the same reason, I couldn’t really understand the ending of my novel until I realized where Corey could get his comeuppance (much, much later and in a completely different book) because I just couldn’t leave things the way they were. I needed to see life go on and these characters move forward, even though I wouldn’t be writing about them after I’d moved them on.
I’ve decided to leave Dana firmly in the background along with others who just briefly see light like Tatum and Paige and Tabitha. Amber, however, won’t be pushed to the background, but she won’t have nearly as large a part to play anymore. Instead, I’ve decided to pull Damen’s mother Angel into the foreground where she belongs and use her drama to provide the conflict. In short, I’m completely changing the plot of my novel well into my second edit.
It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Yes, there will be far more scene rewrites than I wanted at this stage in the novel, but in the process of just reviewing my “points” and chapter summaries, I’ve nixed 3 chapters and removed several smaller storylines that irked because they were originally necessary to avoid plot holes.
I prayed about this last night and asked God if this was really what He wanted of me. Not just the novel changes, but the idea of writing at all. Today, my emotions have run the gamut, from hot/cold, east/west, whatever, but I ended up with a clear path.
I’m not sure I’m willing claim any of this as providential inspiration because God works in mysterious ways and I think it a bit too bold say something like that, but I can’t help noticing how when I really, really asked for help, a calm path came to me.