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!

Fear of starting April 23, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s an interesting balance between doing enough pre-writing to have a solid idea of the characters and what might happen to them, and using it as an excuse to avoid diving in and writing the story.
I’m not sure how much to do now. How much time to spend in prewritng, and when to just start writing? I probably do have enough plot and character development done that I can start a first draft, I know basically who my people are, and I have a bit of an idea of what they are going to do. I don’t want to jump in then get stuck because of things that don’t work and won’t work, but I don’t want the paralysis of overplanning, of procrastination, of never knowing when I have enough to start. It was worrying on one level but very reassurung on another to read the writer who said that she did eight drafts now, as an experienced writer, and that her first sold story took twenty one! Worrying because of the amount of time and work involved, but reassuring because in that many rewrites, pretty much any problem can be fixed, and if a multi-published writer needs that many, I’m not failing because I don’t get it right on the first or second draft. Permission to write a crappy first draft activated!

That writer who admits to twenty one glorious drafts is Melissa James, a fabulous Australian author who writes for Silhouette Intimate Moments. She has some great articles for writers on her website. This one on flow challenged me to think about my story’s theme, and where the key turning points are for my characters- the answers surprised me. The articles on Emotional Depth are also brilliant- I will definitely print them out and have them by my side when I get to the editing stage!

I wonder if I am delaying getting seriously into writing the new story until my copy of the second edition of Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance . So many recently published romance writers credit this book with helping them get there, and I want to read it first before I make too many mistakes!

I’m filling in the time well, reading romances! I’m currently loving Annie West’s “A Mistress for the Taking”. I think this was her first published story, and one of the pieces of advice Melissa James gave was to read recently published first books (this wasn’t all that recent- 2006), as they give unpublished writers more of an idea of what editors are looking for in new writers. So I can tell my husband- I’m not just reading, it’s crucial research , far more important than anything else. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

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2 Responses to “Fear of starting”

  1. SpeakCoffee Says:

    I cannot champion Anne Lamont’s book on writing, Bird by Bird, enough — and she says the same thing as you: you have to give yourself permission to write crappy first drafts or you’ll never write anything at all.

    love the blog btw!

    eiie – aka speakcoffee

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks eiie!
    That is a book I have not read yet but have seen recommended by so many people, you included, whose opinion I trust, that I think I’d better put it on my Amazon shopping list.

    I’ve started the “new” new story- that permission to write crap thing is definitely working. My writing is soooo bad! But I love these characters, and I figure I’ll just get the story down now, and then the real writing will come in the edits.


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