Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Bleah! April 13, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:38 am
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No writing today, but I have been reading some great stories and seeing exactly how I am not doing it right! The Frenchman’s Marriage Demand by Chantelle Shaw, and The Brazilian’s Blackmail Bargain by Abby Green. Very different stories but sharing the same quality of emotional intensity and depth.

I’m feeling bleah about my own writing in comparison. I’ll be very very surprised if I get a letter from the Mills and Boon editors about my competition entry, but that’s okay- it’s a good thing to be aware of how much there still is for me to learn. I thought I’d already served my writing apprenticeship, but somehow I think it’s only just beginning!

And it’s true. Okay, almost true, Of course I still want a frigging letter, but if I did get one the story I would send won’t be the same oneas the competition entry in many ways, as it really does need a total overhaul. I have reached a point in my story where I have realised its a house built on crumbling foundations, and it simply won’t hold together as I pile more on top. Not enough understanding of my characters before I started, they were just coathangers to hang the plot on rather than the engine driving the story (hoo boy- serious case of mixed metaphors!).

I don’t want to give up on it, but the problems go beyong editing and, I think, need a total rewrite. I’m thinking I need to start over, with the same characters, same situation, but hopefully a better understanding of these people and what motivates their choices. I am so undecided about this, I seem to change direction five times a day on what to do with this story! I reallyw ant to make a decision and stay with it, and stop this endless see-sawing between options. The problem is, all the options seem equally unappealing. I’m fed up with this story, almost certain it’s fatally flawed, but I don’t want to be a quitter.

The choices are-

1. keep writing, but accept that I am in first draft mode and what I write will be crap, but that’s okay because I will be doing a heavy duty edit later

2. stop now, and start again from scratch, what I have is so flawed that I need to begin again, there is nothing in what I have done that can be salvaged

3. take a break, start on another story, and look again at this one is a few months, when I have a bit of distance from it and can make a better judgement as to whether it is worth continuing with

Looking at it that way, option two is not an option. There may not be much that is good in what I’ve done, but in sure there are one or two paragraphs that i would leave in the completed version.

Just went back and reread Kate Walker’s blog for the 10th April- her advice to one writer who asked a similar question in the “Writers’ Q&A” is to keep writing and then sort the problems out later. Okay, so that’s what I’ll do, keep slogging on. I just wish I knew some way to recapture the joy and sense of adventure I started out on this story with!

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