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!

Back to Plan A February 15, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ack! It’s been a frustrating week in a lot of ways. But also good because at last I feel that I’ve got my sense of direction back, though only by exploring yet another wrong direction. I have that feeling of the guy in the cartoon, running hard, flapping my arms like crazy, getting nowhere!

I managed to convince myself that the conflict in my current story wasn’t going to work, that the external problem was resolved too early, leaving them with just the internal conflict to deal with.  So I thought, I know, I need them to be more in opposition, I need their external goals to conflict more. I spent all week working on a plot that started with the heroine in the same place, but completely changed the hero. I love it, and I can see some beautiful scenes that will be part of this story. But it’s not the same story any more.

I’ve fallen back into the “Shiny New Story” trap. I’m yet again abandoning an incomplete story because I’m overcriticising it and I’ve decided it’s just no good. I’m kidding myself if I try to say I’m not doing that. This isn’t just a slight change of direction for the story, it’s a brand new story pretending to still be the old one, so I can sneak it past my critique buddies! So I have to decide- do I want the first story to join all my other unfinished stories?

The answer is- no! The story is more focused on how they overcome the internal conflict getting in the way of this relationship, so does it matter that they reach their external goals a bit earlier? Probably not, because the very thing that gives them both their external goals is what intensifies the internal conflict. And if that conflict somehow doesn’t feel strong enough or believeable enough, the cure isn’t necessarily in changing the nature of the conflict. Building up the motivation is what’s needed, layering that in right from the beginning, so the choices the hero and heroine make are real and understandable. In fact, seeing the villain doesn’t give up easily, even when it looks as if the hero and heroine have won, I probably need to be more aware of the risk of the external conflict taking over when it shouldn’t, rather than worrying there’s not enough! This is a romance, so solving the internal conflicts, the relationship blocks, should be the main event.

So I’m back to Version 1 of the story. The different ideas for Version 2 won’t go to waste, that can be my next story. But right now, I have to stay faithful to telling the story I started with, to getting  a complete first draft, to finishing what I start. No more excuses, even ones that seem good and convincing on the surface like this one did!

Now it’s time to write, not just write about writing.


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