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!

Not such a pantser? January 2, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:06 pm
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 I haven’t posted lately, because December has been a month of good intentions and excuses and not much else.

So the biggie New Year Resolutions are to-

  • finish a first draft of the current story by 31st January
  • get a partial of either this story, last years JanNo, or another story which is COMPLETE in first draft (that doesn’t leave too many to choose from- I am the Queen of First Chapters!) edited up, ready to-
  •  use that Comps Slip from the IS competition by 31st March, ‘cos it’ll soon be past its Use By date

I love the Work in Progress now, though I’ve been stuck on it  for much of December and went through a stage of thinking it was just too boring and stupid to bother with. Two false attempts at the start- nearly 10,000 words going nowhere much! This is the story that I wanted to do for my Nano, that felt so chick-litty to start with. I wanted to write a series romance though, not chick lit, so I started again. Then, though they were at least half the story away, I ran up against these plotholes. Plot holes the size of London double-decker buses. I needed the heroine to be kidnapped, and the hero to rescue her, but in the process they need to spend the night together. The very archaic laws of the country they are in require them to marry immediately or be punished. The rest of the story is how they turn their marriage of convenience into a true love match, and there are a couple of other little complications besides. The problem was, I had no idea who the kidnappers were or why they would want to kidnap her, and though I was only in chapter two the groudwork neded to be laid for all of this. Now if I was a true pantser I would have just kept writing, trusting and hoping that the solutions would work themselves out in the writing. But no way was my muse budging. She wasn’t going to write another word ’til she knew what the hell was going on and why.  Clearly I am not the pantser I thought I was. I was going round in circles of ever increasing frustration, daily getting far more exciting ideas for very diffeernt stories I was desperate to write.

Unfortunately, I’d made a promise to my writing group that I would still with this story ’til I finished it, or at least a first draft. They know me too well as the serial non-finisher that I am. I was stuck with this frigging story and that was that.

The answer, as always, lay in the characters. One of the girls in the group made a comment about going back to an old story and having to work to fall in love with the hero all over again. That seemed like a good strategy to try, okay, it wasn’t going to help me with the kidnapper question, but it was a possible way back into the story.  Plus, I felt like I knew the heroine well, but the hero was a tall dark and handsome  mystery, especially his motivations for being involved with the situation at all. I would dig deeper into the hero, spend some time with him.

Well he surprised me! Within half an hour of starting to interview him, that wonderful man had not only told me a lot more about himself, he told me who the kidnapper is and why they kidnap Gabi.  Not that he knows yet that Gabi is going to be kidnapped, but what he told me about the situation and his own reasons for being involved, and who his opponents were, made the answer obvious.

And with that question answered, most of the rest has fallen into place. I don’t have  a detailed outline. But what I do have is a sort of road map, telling me the routes I could take into this story. I know a lot more about the hero and heroine. I have a collage! The first time I have done one. It was fun. and it seems to help a lot to have something visual. I find that interesting as I never realised I was so visual in my learning style.  I even have a real physical map of the imaginary country all this happens in, very badly drawn by me. And I have nearly 6,000 story words written yesterday, and I’m eager to get in and write more. Fingers crossed I can keep up the momentum, and make my goal of completed first draft by the end of the month a reality.



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