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!

The joys of writer’s block! June 17, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:48 pm
Tags: , ,

writers_block Image source











I wanted an image to fit the theme for my post, so I did a Google image search for writer’s block. It’s surprising (or maybe not, given the propensities of so many writers!) just how many wines there are named Writer’s Block.

I’m not planning on standing out the front and announcing “My name’s Jane, and I’m an alcoholic.”  I’m pretty sure I don’t have a drinking problem, though my teetotal husband may tell you otherwise! I was thinking about the usefulness of writer’s block,what I can learn from being stuck and not being able to move forward.  

When I whinged  posted about this somewhere (I thought it was the Mills and Boon forum, but I couldn’t find the post!) a kind published writer (again because I can’t find the post I can’t find the advice, but I’m fairly certain it was either Michelle Styles, Michelle Willingham, or Donna Alward) said that when they got stuck, it was because there was something wrong in the plot that needed fixing. I didn’t see how that applied to me at the time. Mini-lightbulb moment- I now feel maybe I do.

I have been so confused. Right from when I started planning the story, part of me wanted to write the story as a Presents, with loads of emotional drama; the other half wanted to write it as a lightly ironic romantic comedy, though still with its quota of emotional growth and change.

It seemed to make more sense to aim at Presents/ Modern. I love those stories, they are shorter (not that I am stupid enough to think that means easier, far from it!) and I have that Mills and Boon Compliments Slip that I don’t want to waste. But…but… as I was writing I seemed to lean more towards romantic comedy, and I had to keep pulling myself back.

As it is now, it’s neither one thing or the other. It’s a weird bastardised hybrid which will need huge amounts hacked out in the edits no matter which way I decide to take it.

The resistance to writing any more hit when I realised that to make this a series romance, whether Presents, Modern Heat, or a Sweet Romance, I would have to cut out all the bits I liked best and had most fun writing. Of course, those are very probably the bits that I will see I most need to be cut when I re-read the first draft! But I have this massive reluctance to let go of that fun, light, more chick lit voice. I didn’t really see how to make it work as a single title though. Now I think I have figured it out and I know what I am going to try and do. It’s the same story, but with a very different slant to it. The romantic comedy side is winning!

It won’t require just a little change to the story, but a massive change. Voice, tone, POV, whose emotional journey I focus on, all that will need to change. I don’t know if my idea will work or if it is totally crazy. It may be the sort of thing that could work fine for a short story or novella but get tiresome over a whole novel. Or it could work fine and be a fab romantic comedy.

I’m back in the saddle. I just don’t know yet it I’m galloping full tilt towards home, or the edge of a cliff.


4 Responses to “The joys of writer’s block!”

  1. Eileen Says:

    Going off a cliff might not be such a bad thing; it just depends what you find beneath you when you stop falling.

    For my two cents, I say write the story you see in your mind without worrying about the line/series. It sounds like you’ve made plenty of industry connections. Surely someone who knows the serieses will be willing to read a second draft and help spot the series that is right for your book (or how to tweak it) rather than writing the book to the series.

    Or am I too idyllic? I have to say I’ve never been that great at writing to the assignment. The longer the project the more I deviate … and novels are, well, “longer.” 🙂

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    I think you are absolutely right. I need to just write the story. My problem is, I’m not sure what it is! I want to write the two versions equally. It’s confusing and may just be an excuse for more procrastination. When I get excited about writing it as the romantic comedy version, I start thinking, “Yes, but what about that Presents element you’d have to leave out?”, and vice versa.Maybe it’s not either/or, maybe there is some way I can do both in one book. I just have no idea how to do that at this stage! BTW, I have a copy of Bird By Bird on its way. And Harlequin Mills and Boon have announced a new first chapter contest aimed at Presents or Modern Heat- http://www.iheartpresents.com/2009/06/big-news-harlequin-presents-writing-competition-is-coming/

  3. Eileen Says:

    Oh! I hadn’t realized that you had a conflict like that (comedy vs. Persents element). That does make things more difficult than just “feeling” one way or another.

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    I do need to decide, ‘cos it makes a big difference in the scenes I need to write next. I need to know who instigates the black momemnt- Luk or Emma! Both of them have core relationship issues that could be the cause.
    I’m planning to spend a little time digging deeper into motivation- I suspect I will go with whoever’s motivation is strongest and that’s the decision made for me.
    Yay for a weekend off to write!

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