On the OF front: over 88K words now. Goodness, I might end up not keeping my first draft under 100K words. Gonna try, though. I still feel like the ending is a slow, laborious crawl on the distant horizon, but if I just disciplined myself better, which I have been having a terrible time doing lately, it could be done in a week or two.
Not this week, though. I have some stuff going on that is causing moderate levels of stress and anxiety, plus my mood lately has just been... not good. Sometimes I wish my LJ was more personal and "chatty," but then I'd have to start seriously filtering who's on my flist and thinking about occasionally locking posts (and probably being less reticent about banning people who make the Internet unpleasant), and that goes against the purpose I originally set this blog up for.
Chapter 10: Chicken.
Detention with Mr. Journey turned out not to be so bad, although Alexandra grimaced a little every time he called her “Starshine,” and then glared at David, as he found it highly amusing.
Anyone want to point out why the above sentence is badly written? (Not you, swissmarg, I know it would have jumped out at you. ;)) I guess I like pointing out all these little writing "oopses" of mine because it makes me feel better that at least I can spot errors like this more readily now. I like to think that means I make them less often.
So, this is the chapter where the Larry/Alexandra rivalry heats up in earnest. One of the criticisms I've heard often enough to believe it's an issue is that I dragged that theme out too long and for too many chapters in book one, so I'm going to be paying special attention to that. Larry was originally just an obnoxious pureblood kid meant to be a foil for Alexandra - her Draco, basically. I never intended him to be an exact analog of Draco — for example, even though he's clearly a bully and a bigot, you see later even in this book that he is not completely without some redeeming qualities, a hint that as unpleasant as he may be now, he's still just thirteen, which means he could well grow up to be a decent person.
Or maybe not.
Larry was initially just a recurring Draco-like antagonist, but I knew he needed a more interesting role to justify so many appearances, so even in book one, I was deciding what he was going to do in future books besides just trade insults with Alexandra.
It seemed to Alexandra that she was much smarter and more talented than the other kids in her classes, but she usually thought that in Larkin Mills as well – she just didn't care enough about grades or schoolwork to worry about it. Now she resented the fact that she was learning magic more slowly than if she were in a regular class. She was sure that even Mr. Hobbes, Mr. Newton, and Mr. Grue had to be noticing her efforts.
Alexandra was kind of charming back when she was more blatantly and unselfconsciously full of herself.
Ms. Shirtliffe also makes another appearance in this chapter, and there are some hints here about both Ms. Shirtliffe and Larry Albo that probably won't be fully explained until book five or six.
This chapter also contains the first appearance of Galen.
Alexandra uses doggerel verse a lot in this chapter, including a lengthy curse on Larry and the Rashes that is not exactly the best rhyming meter, but shows off once again her ability to use pretty powerful magic. Larry calls her and David "Mudblood" again. And Anna, not for the last time, tries to act as Alexandra's conscience.
Alexandra got into bed herself, feeling angry and sad, but unwilling to apologize or admit that she was wrong.
She never meant to hurt her friends, but she was proud, and stubborn.
And finally, there is the aerial duel between Alexandra and Larry, ending with Alexandra showing exceptional prowess on a broom and once again showing up poor Larry.
This is one of those moments that one of my earlier betas (miles2go) called Mary Sue-ish. I am still not entirely certain about it, just as I'm not certain about any of the moments that some readers think are Sue-ish (Alexandra beating up an older boy, Alexandra bluffing her way out of trouble, Alexandra casting a spell that turns Charlie into a giant raven, etc.) and some think are just Alexandra being a protagonist who is exceptionally talented like a main character should be.
Yes, Alexandra probably shouldn't be able to pull off hotshot aerial maneuvers practically her first time on a broom. Especially since I've never done much with this particular talent. It was partly deliberate — a tip of the hat to Harry Potter and his preternatural Quidditch skills as a First Year — and partly just because I liked the mental image of this scene, and it fit the "Chicken" theme which I chose for this chapter. I've shown Alexandra to be a pretty good flyer in subsequent books, but obviously she has never taken up Quidditch or Quodpot. (Fortunately for poor David's ego, as she'd almost certainly be better than him.)
Anyway, there was a lot of Larry and Alexandra rivalry in this chapter, but quite a few other details and hints about other things. I think it might have been just a little bit overlong, but not too bad.
And we end with another trip to the Dean's Office.