Maranatha: Weekend Weigh-In.

It’s been almost two weeks since I started working on Maranatha: A Novel.

Last Friday, I decided that I’d take weekends off. Initially, I thought I was doing this just to take a breather—and to allow any new or potential readers to catch up, so it wouldn’t seem like a constant barrage of overlong blog entries. Now, I realize that the more chapters I write the more writing-free weekends are a necessity, just so I can re-read what I’ve got so far.

I can’t believe I’m nine chapters in.

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to open the floor to comments. I know that a few friends are reading and I really appreciate your time and any comments you’ve already left! You all are keeping me focused and accountable and I really think I might be able to finish this before September (which was my goal).

Here are a few things I’m interested in hearing about from you, regarding the first nine chapters:

  • Are Maranatha and/or Gideon sympathetic characters?
  • What is your perception of Holy Pentecost Academy so far?
  • Where does there seem to be too little development?
  • What are you still left wondering about the characters/plot?
  • Do the characters’ motivations and attraction(s) seem believable?
  • Do you feel like the plot is moving forward?

Please feel free to address these inquiries as briefly or extensively as you’d like by leaving a comment. And don’t hesitate to chime in on anything that isn’t listed in the questions above. I welcome any observations, criticisms, or questions you may have.

Thanks again for reading. See you Monday!

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9 thoughts on “Maranatha: Weekend Weigh-In.

  1. Zesi says:

    Are Maranatha and/or Gideon sympathetic characters?
    Yes! More Maranatha than Gideon, but so far, yes.

    What is your perception of Holy Pentecost Academy so far?
    Crazy. Hostile.

    Where does there seem to be too little development?
    I feel like I want to get into the heads of those who hate Maranatha. I want to know why they do; I know she’s not a member of their church, but I want to know why that would be such a dealbreaker.

    What are you still left wondering about the characters/plot?
    What attracts Maranatha to Gideon.

    Do the characters’ motivations and attraction(s) seem believable?
    Yes.

    Do you feel like the plot is moving forward?
    Yes! I keep waiting on the next chapter

  2. nichole says:

    * Are Maranatha and/or Gideon sympathetic characters?
    yep. of course, since it seems more marantha’s tale than gideon’s, i lean towards her a bit more.

    * What is your perception of Holy Pentecost Academy so far?
    creepy and insane. otherworldly. by that i mean, i can’t imagine any of the students leaving there of sound mind. they seemed to have mastered, at such a young age, the duplicity in smiling while digging pens in themselves under their desks.

    * Where does there seem to be too little development?
    maranatha’s physical appearance seems to be a source of her standing out when she’d rather hide. does she look like her father? mother? i can only recall noting physical descriptions of her body when around gideon- the arm break, how he notices her, how she blushes, etc.
    there was a brief mention of pranks.
    was there ever a young boy who was dared to kiss her or take her out?
    the students seem pretty cruel to her, and we see examples of what the girls say or do, but it’s a little hard for me to think that only a 27 year old teacher would show her any physical interest, even despite all the animosity the students seem to hold toward her.

    * What are you still left wondering about the characters/plot?
    anne’s relationship with maranatha’s father.
    and i agree with zesi- why do the kids hate her so much?

    * Do the characters’ motivations and attraction(s) seem believable?
    i must admit i was a bit disappointed in learning about gideon’s “troubled past.” of course, he needs ghosts, but the rebel who still allows his parents to bail him out… i don’t know. it rubbed me wrong at first, but the more i think about it, the more it fits with my earlier thoughts that the people who leave holy pentecost are haunted.

    and i agree again with zesi– why is maranatha attracted to gideon?

    i’d be interested to see gideon watching the other boys with maranatha or maybe talking to a group of boys, pretending to get them to talk to her, but really trying to find out more about her.

    * Do you feel like the plot is moving forward?
    definitely. i can’t wait to read more and get more details about the class action suit.

    i love the different stories that are being told without the reader losing focus.

    and again, this is really inspiring for me.
    i’ve gone back and looked at old notes about a few things i’ve wanted to write over the years.
    i can’t thank you enough for sharing.

  3. shani-o says:

    1) Maranatha is, yes. She’s painfully neurotic (sorta like Lee in ‘Prep’), but with good reason. Gideon isn’t exactly sympathetic, but he’s interesting, and it’s clear that there’s more to him; it just hasn’t been revealed yet.

    2) Worst. School. Evar. But seriously, I don’t have any experience with religious schools, so it seems borderline unbelievable (except that what I know of religion tells me it probably isn’t, if that makes sense).

    3) The lawsuit stuff has been really implicit and a little confusing. Also, we only see Maranatha through Gideon’s eyes. Which makes sense, but it wasn’t until he described her that I thought the girls at the school might just be jealous of her, hence the taunting.

    4) I’m curious about Maranatha…was her relationship with Gideon the definitive experience in her life thus far, or is there more to her that makes her who she is?

    5) Yes, mostly. I wonder about Anne, though.

    6) Yeah, definitely. I like that even though each chapter delivers something a bit different than what I expected, it’s still progressing well.

  4. slb says:

    thanks for your thoughtful responses! they’ve all been illuminating.

    i’m surprised y’all don’t sympathize as much/at all(?) with Gideon. i really like him. lol

    what’s weird/fascinating to me is that the more i write, the more layers i *haven’t* written regarding these characters. there’s a lot that still needs to be said–and your comments have helped me define a little of it.

    shani: i hear you on the lawsuit thing. it’s been vague and confusing b/c i haven’t quite figured it out yet. but, if all goes well, it should comprise the whole second act. hopefully, that’ll clarify things.

  5. universeexpanding says:

    – Are Maranatha and/or Gideon sympathetic characters?

    Maranatha right now more so than Gideon, but that will probably change as we see more of him. Right now I feel, as other commenters have said, that we primarily see him through Maranatha’s eyes. I know he’s tortured about something and I definitely don’t dislike him. The nervousness and his internal dialogues about being attracted to Maranatha are intriguing. There seems to be a woundedness about him that I would like to know more about. That line – “you always remember people you break”…very very good stuff. I’m eager to learn more about him and what he’s so guilty about.

    What is your perception of Holy Pentecost Academy so far?

    Creepy place. Seems more like an institution than a school.

    Where does there seem to be too little development?

    I don’t know if this is too little development or simply things you haven’t gotten too yet. As others said I would like to know why Maranatha is so hated and how her relationship with Anne got to be the way it is.

    What are you still left wondering about the characters/plot?

    The lawsuit. I’m desperately curious.

    Do the characters’ motivations and attraction(s) seem believable?

    Yes.

    Do you feel like the plot is moving forward?

    Definitely. I think you’re handling all the different storylines pretty deftly and changing gears from past to present without us feeling like you’ve ignored a particular angle for too long. And of course, I’m always anxious to read the latest instalment!

    • slb says:

      thanks for all your feedback. i found all your comments really helpful–and i’m reminded about things i definitely want to reveal about gideon in the near future.

      i’m also trying to dig deeper into the lawsuit in the second half (or third?), which’ll start with chapter 13.

  6. cindylu says:

    – So far Maranatha is more sympathetic than Gideon.
    – Torturous. It seems like a place that could make anyone crazy. Makes me wonder if places like these really exist.
    – Gideon’s story
    – I’m really curious to see who the relationship between Gideon and Maranatha develops. I’m also really drawn in by the suit against the school.
    – Yup.
    – Yup.

    • slb says:

      as far as i know, places like Holy Pentecost Academy do not exist, although i did a little research once i started trying to tackle the lawsuit in my head… and i found a case that drew surprising similarities to the one i hope to write. i was kind of shocked.

  7. hunterdotcomson says:

    I know this is late, but I have been wanting to catch up for a while. In response to your questions:

    Are Maranatha and/or Gideon sympathetic characters?

    Maranatha more than Gideon but only because we’ve spent more time with her.

    What is your perception of Holy Pentecost Academy so far?

    It’s still a bit of a mystery to me. I mean I understand that it is supposed to be a bad place, but other than the lawsuit and Maranatha’s hard time at the place I don’t feel one way or the other about it. Could be just that I am a poor reader.

    Where does there seem to be too little development?

    The lawsuit I guess. It made appearances in the first nine chapters, and I assume there were transgressions of the Catholic nature, but not much to hang your hat on.

    Also, I was thinking the lawsuit wasn’t necessary for Gideon and Maranatha to see each other. But then again, M hates her school so a reunion or homecoming game wouldn’t work.

    What are you still left wondering about the characters/plot?

    Couple things: 1) The lawsuit obviously 2) Why they are attracted to each other 3) The intensity of M & G’s relationship.

    Do the characters’ motivations and attraction(s) seem believable?

    Yes.

    Do you feel like the plot is moving forward?

    Yes.

    Will catch up with the remaining chapters later.

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