So yeah, it's 3am. I guess that kind of tells you how the writing is going.
The current state of the manuscript is "Incomplete retrospective procedural rewrite"
I'm not done with the narrative yet... there's a lot to cover, but I'm going back for rewrites for a very specific purpose: Character Development.
I've got a pretty big cast. I know the stars are Cat and Peter, but the supporting roles factor largely in the dynamic, especially in this second half of the book. Writing the later stuff where the character development is supposed to take place, I realized two characters - Lynn and Zephyr the Water and Wind Curses - have absolutely no personality. Lynn was pleasant and motherly. Zephyr was depressed. That was it. They had not quirks, no traits, no flaws, no interest. This could not stand. I had to do something.
I've come a long way in this quest within a quest. Currently as it stands Lynn is an optimistic girl functioning on fear. She's determined to believe that people are inherently good, because that means her parents abandoned her in Water Town for a good reason and not because they didn't want her. She has a deep-seated fear of being abandoned and unwanted and this drives most of her decisions. She's hospitable and welcoming because she wants you to stay, she's friendly because she doesn't want to be disliked, and she's shaken deeply by rejection or duplicity. Coming to terms with this trend in herself...as well as the fact that her parents DID abandon her on purpose... will help make up her character arc and bring her closer to Aiden who is struggling with something similar.
Zephyr is now mentally ill. I know I'm replacing one disorder with another, but it's a much stronger foundation. My grandmother (for whom I will be dedicating this book btw) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It's been a couple years now, and I've watched her deteriorate slowly over time. Zephyr is born of those observations. All the other Curses are losing the health of their bodies, Zephyr is too but moreso she's losing the health of her mind. She floats through life spacily with her eyes slightly out of focus getting words wrong and forgetting where she is or what she was doing. She has little to no opinion about anything and absolutely no sense of self-preservation. She still has the depression element, but now instead of sitting in a corner being antisocial and emo, she's disinterested in her own welfare and has no value. She also reacts violently to certain stimuli, fire and scissors for example because they summon traumatic memories for her. She'll change moods in a split second when confronted with these. She's short on inhibitions and can't process abstractions like what other people might be feeling, she sees life through her eyes only and that life is very bleak. She'll be an ever-evolving enigma graced from time to time with lucid moments where we learn a bit about who she really is and the real girl that's lost in this windy fog.
This is a great transition to the character we meet next; another Earth Curse named Jared. The same way you can plumb the depths of my grandmother's mind for subsurface information, his natural curiosity will draw up Zephyr's true self more often. When the Curses get really severe and death comes knocking on their door, we'll see all those steps forward evaporate and hopefully a loss will be felt by all.
I'm still working on what Zephyr will say in her lucid moments. I'd like to call back the character she was when I first conceived her way back five years ago. A hospice worker who was proactive in helping the dying when no one else would. It's amazing to think back on that... that was so long ago. That was before I got rid of Nell! Wow. I don't miss Nell at all.