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!

Presents or not Presents? July 29, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:43 pm
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I just read Sabrina Philips’ post about the opening of Presents stories on I Heart Presents.

Scary reading. Because I’ve been working on editing my first chapter, and I’m realising just how not Presents it is. Especially how much not Modern Heat it is.

The heroine’s life gets turned upside down, and yet nothing really happens. They sit around and talk!

How can I make something happen?

I can’t have strangers kiss, like the  delicious start of Kate Hardy’s Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh. That’s because my heroine is somewhat plain and has a Cinderella transformation, through not quite as extreme as the one in Julia James’s  The Italian’s Rags-to-Riches Wife. There’s no revenge or past history to hot up the opening scenes.

Despite the hot sex, maybe this story is really a Sweet Romance after all?

Not that I think sweets don’t have lots happening. I just see them as more a slow burn than the instant explosion of a Presents/ Modern.

Damn! I really wanted this story to be a Presents, and it’s not headed that way at all!

Edited to add- if you are reading this for the first time, make sure you read the comments! There is some don’t-miss advice in there.

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37 Responses to “Presents or not Presents?”

  1. Karen Says:

    Does she want to kiss him or does she want to run in the other direction? What is the worst thing that could happen to your heroine at this time? Then what’s the next worst thing? And so on.

    Sometimes that line of questioning works for me if I want to crank things up a notch. Ignore the questions if they simply don’t relate at all. 😉

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    She very much wants to kiss him, but feels he is waaaaaay out of her league. The worst thing that could happen to her is to fall in love with the hero!

  3. Eileen Says:

    Why can’t you have the strangers kiss even if there is a cinderella transformation? That’s the whole premise behind Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh: she’s plain and he likes it. Just because she becomes WOW a little later on doesn’t mean that he sees NOTHING in her right now. It could be that one haunting kiss or — even jucier — that one almost kiss that got interupted that she cannot forget, and then once she has her transformation she absolutely hopes he has no idea who she is and how awkward she was (like the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except they didn’t kiss there he was just a customer in her restaurant).

    (oh and I’m SOOOO running off to read that Sabrina Philips blog post now!)

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Right now I have him feeling attracted to her but not really being able to figure out why. I would love for them to kiss in the first chapter, but think if he kissed her so soon she would run a mile and not go back. He is the catalyst for a major change in her life and she’s already wary about trusting him and thrown off balance by her attraction to this man is so far out of her league he is in another galaxy (her opinion!).

    Another stumbling block is that their first meeting happens in the home of a feisty 89 year old woman, though she can’t walk easily so the opportunity for a kiss is there when the hero and heroine go to his car to say goodbye at the end of the chapter. My inclination is that it’s one of those awkward “almost but not quite” kiss moments, you know the sort that are the horror of saying goodnight at the end of so many first dates? Not that this is a date, but you know what I mean, that leaning in towards each other will-he-or-won’t-he-OMG moment.

    Their actual first kiss happens at the end of chapter 3, then there’s the mega big deal this-is-the-kiss that-got-us-into-this-mess kiss at the end of chapter 4.

    I decided this morning that I was just being depressive and negative due to fatigue last night, and I’m gonna edit this sucker anyway, with Modern Heat as my target line. Once I made that choice, the sassier heroine voice magically appeared in my edits today!

    Hey, forgot to say, I love your new blog!

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Also forgot to say- I love your idea of the kiss before transformation, and the meeting post Cinderella moment with the hero not knowing who she is. It wouldn’t work with this story, but can I borrow it for a future story?

    Well, I like it so much I’m trying to figure how it would work for this story, but it requires altering too much about the heroine’s ordinary world at the beginning. Not insurmountable, and would be a lot of fun.

    Though actually, that’s close to the premise for my next story- they have a “let’s not spoil this by telling each other too much about who we are” passionate weekend together (a little like the Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant characters at the first wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral), then she finds out he is a major new business rival and the biggest threat imaginable to everything she has worked all her life to achieve.

    Are you doing a Presents for the comp?

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    I should not post when I am both exhausted and tipsy!
    Wanted to clarify- there’s no makeover in my new story, just that element of not knowing who the other is, though the reader knows and is waiting for one or the other to find the truth.

  7. authorlynnrayeharris Says:

    Have you started in the right place? Presents is about passionate intensity. They don’t have to kiss; they simply need to want to do so — and intensely so!

    If you are at the moment of change for your heroine, and nothing is happening, then you could be starting in the wrong place. Start where everything goes completely and totally wrong — and make it intense. 🙂

  8. This is better! It’s me, Lynn, but I was logged in under my identity for my web stats on my own page, so that’s why you got that goofy username on the last post. Sorry!

  9. And, oh blast, I guess the last comment is in moderation. Hope you get it! I was talking about intensity….

  10. Heidi R Says:

    I’d second what Lynn has said. Make sure you’re starting the story in the right spot…

    Also, what’s your hero doing during this chapter?? What’s he like? If he’s attracted to her is he the sort of guy who’ll stop and question that attraction (because she’s not his usual type??), or is he the sort of guy who’ll take the initiative when the opportunity arises. After all, it’s only a kiss right, he probably won’t be thinking it’s that big a deal if he’s kissed lots of women before and he’s never had any complaints.

    If he’s so sensitive and perceptive about her feelings that he backs off from kissing her he may be more Sweet than Modern Heat. If he’s a Modern Heat hero I’d expect him to kiss her and not be worrying about the consequences. Which sets your story up for lots of delicious conflicts when the consequences come crashing down on them both afterwards!

    Your dilemma does strike a chord because in my next book I had pretty much the same problem. My hero was a gorgeous movie star arriving in the UK who’s waylaid by my tomboy heroine at the airport who wants to get him to go to her best friend’s wedding (because the groom is the hero’s long-lost brother). She’s deeply wary of good-looking men, knows virtually nothing about sex or relationships after an unhappy incident in her teens and he’s this super-confident, super good-looking guy who she also thinks is an arrogant jerk, but who she’s got to persuade to do something he doesn’t want to do. Now, I thought, how can I knock my poor heroine right out of her comfort zone and really stir things up between them. Then came the ah-ha moment…. I know, how about if he spots a tabloid photographer, has to push her back against a pillar to keep them both out of the guy’s line of sight and then when he looks down into those captivating green eyes of hers he sees the surprised and involuntary flare of arousal and decides to kiss her just for the hell of it…. And to her utter shock and horror she responds!

    You say your heroine would want to run a mile if your hero kissed her. But why is this a bad thing??? My opinion, you’re being way too nice to your characters. Force them to confront their insecurities… make them suffer! And then see what happens next.

  11. Heidi R Says:

    I left a long comment on your first chapter dilemma too… Which seems to have got stuck in moderation. Darn it!

  12. waitingforthecall Says:

    Lynn, you are so right about the intensity! I think the premise and the conflict in my story work, but finding the right place to start has been hell- I have six different chapter ones! I think I have the right starting place now. Meeting the hero catalyses a complete change in the heroine’s life, so that’s the start. I just need to layer in more intensity, sensuality, and tension, and minimise clunky infodumps. Ha, love that “just”! This is what it’s all about, isn’t it, building the writings skills to do just that. I did try starting later, when the change had already happened, but it didn’t work. My next story will be sooooo much easier, I already have a fab first scene!

  13. waitingforthecall Says:

    Heidi, finally had time to look at my messages (yet another crazy busy day at work!). You shouldn’t get stuck in moderation again.

    Your comments have me thinking.

    It may be a basic flaw in my premise- basically the hero needs the heroine to save him from a situation he wants to avoid. He might be tempted to kiss her, but he also won’t want to scare her off because that puts him back where he started. He doesn’t resist the temptation in order to be a nice guy, he resists the temptation because he wants to win. He does give into that temptation and they have a hot hot hot kiss a couple of chapters later, with disastrous consequences that risk him losing everything he’s worked for!

    I wonder if this story is fatally flawed, based as it is on the hero needing the heroine to get him out of a situation he doesn’t want. He tracks her down as the “missing heir” to get her to take on the role of princess of his birth country, because otherwise he is next in line to be prince, something that will seriously mess up his perfect life! But it feels like it works better if it’s the other way around, if she starts off wanting something from him. It can always switch after that. I don’t see how to do that for this story.

    I did think of a twist on the Cinderella transformation- what if he liked her better before she was glammed up. Triggered by walking past Selfridges on Oxford Street this morning. Scarlett Johansson will be there tomorrow promoting Dolce & Gabbana. I hate hate hate how they turned such a naturally beautiful woman into a Marilyn style glamour clone. Maybe my hero would do if he kissed her “before”. Anyway, not relevant to this story, maybe that’s part of a different one!

    Hmm, wondering if I should just give up this story for now and go on to the next one, planned with the benefit of all I’ve learned from the massive mistakes made on this one!

    Love the premise for your next story. It’s Daisy’s friend Juno and Connor’s brother, right? Fab! When is it being published? ‘Cos I want to read it right now!

  14. Heidi R Says:

    No worries about the moderation, I just thought my comment had disappeared into cyber space forever!! So glad to see it turned up.

    Having heard more about your first chapter, I am now officially intrigued… But what I would say is make sure your conflict is coming from your characters and their internal conflict not their external one… From what you’re saying your hero is able to stand back from his attraction and think ‘it would not be good to kiss this woman so I’m not going to do kiss her’. That’s external conflict stopping him from kissing her, not internal conflict. You need to give him a more compelling reason not to kiss her if he wants to…

  15. waitingforthecall Says:

    Well, the internal conflict is that if he gets seriously involved with her he has to go back to the small island life back in his birth country that he worked so hard to escape from. Everyone knowing his business, being limited and constrained. It also means confronting his sense of failure and his grief over the death of his first girlfriend. He’s always felt he should have been able to stop her dying, and made an unconscious decision never to allow anyone to get that close to him again, and especially never to allow anyone to love, need, or depend on him again. I think that’s why Connor’s issues resonated so deeply with me, Luk’s are similar though he felt he failed his first love rather than his brother.

  16. waitingforthecall Says:

    More reasons not to kiss her- she’s not anything like the woman he usually chooses to spend time with. He prefers to keep things superficial, so chooses glossy trophy girlfriends who come with a built in use by date. Emma is inexperienced, naive, a forever sort of woman. Totally not his type. She reminds him of his first girlfriend, just in that naive trusting enthusiasm for life she has. She’s not jaded, blase, out for what she can get. She doesn’t have a clue how to play games. She feels everything deeply, and lets her feelings show. That scares him, though he’d do anything before admitting it.

    Having said all that, I’m not convinced that this story isn’t simply broken beyond my ability to fix right now. Or maybe not broken, just more complex than I have the skills to handle. I’m very very tempted to start writing my new story idea, which should be more straightforward.

    Okay, honesty time. The new story will start off well. Bang, straight into the story. But I know I haven’t quite nailed the conflict there either. Mace, my new hero, needs to be more fully developed.

  17. Jackie Says:

    Jane, I second Heidi. This sounds awfully like you’re forcing your characters to do something for the sake of the plot you’ve set up. I only say this because this is just the same sort of thing I have been doing in my WIP and also what happened in my rejected ms. I tried to force my unconfident heroine into a one night stand with the hero. But firstly I had to do all manner of things to get the heroine to do it and it ended up being contrived.

    However, re that kiss. A kiss doesn’t mean anything but a kiss. At least not to a guy. Would he really not kiss her because it would mean entering into a relationship with her? I don’t think guys have that level of insight when they first meet someone. And how does he know a kiss would scare her? If he’s a confident, gorgeous alpha male, he wouldn’t be doubting himself. Rather he’d be thinking, perhaps a kiss would change her mind and NOT scare her. And, like Heidi says, if he did kiss her and she DID run a mile, why does that mean he can’t still track her down later? In fact, wouldn’t that deepen the tension between them all the more??

    Actually though, what you should do is try looking at the story without the external stuff – the island and his birth country and him needing the heroine to get him out of something. Modern Heat is all about the internal stuff and his internal conflict is his sense of failure over the death of his girlfriend. Then think about what would happen if he met the heroine in a bar. They got chatting, they felt the attraction to each other. What would they do? How would they handle it? The plot should then follow on from the choices they make about how they respond to each other, which is based on their internal conflict. Would they go home together? What would happen after that?

    Don’t worry about having them sitting round and talking. That IS part of Modern Heat. It’s not the external stuff that should be the focus but the internal stuff and that does involve lots of talking….:-)

    Anyway, that’s my two unpublished cents worth. 🙂

  18. waitingforthecall Says:

    You are so right Jackie! I had a premise and made the characters fit it, not the other way around. I started with mental images of certain scenes I wanted to have in the story, not with the people who can’t let themselves fall in love with each other because that’s the worst thing they could possibly do. I am more and more thinking I need to leave this story for now and come back to it when I have both more writing experience and enough space to see it clearly. The biggest problem here is my hero. The heroine is very strong, the hero – well, I don’t evn know if I like him that much!

  19. Jackie Says:

    Don’t worry, Jane, that’s exactly what I do too! I have these great ideas for scenes or plots, and then try and think of the characters to fit them. Which doesn’t work for Modern Heat or Modern (I don’t think), or at least requires a lot of practice to get right. You could do this particular story for Desire though – which is all about the external conflict (apparently).

    Anyway, it’s taken me nearly a year to work this one out and to stop shoe-horning my characters into plots that don’t suit them. I am now trying VERY hard to think of the characters first and let things develop from there. Doesn’t always work of course which is why I am constantly re-writing. 🙂

    Well I always find that when I reach an impasse with a particular story, a break is a good thing. You can then come back to it fresh a bit later when you have more perspective on things. I have figured out a way to fix my rejected MS after a few months break and it’s just amazing – why didn’t I think of it before I ask myself??

    As to your hero, well, you gotta like your hero. If he’s not convincing to you, he won’t be convincing to your readers. Is he not strong enough? Or is he too strong?

  20. Heidi R Says:

    Well, we’ve certainly got ourselves a discussion going here!

    Jackie’s absolutely right, internal conflict is key in both Modern and Modern Heat, it’s the engine that drives the story and it is the hardest thing (in my experience) to get right, so don’t be put off if you’re struggling with it. In the ms I’m currently working on I wrote my first chapter four times!! because I was struggling to get that balance between internal and external conflict right (and not drag in too much back story).

    Now, I’m getting the definite vibe from you that you don’t want to do this story right now. That your hero in particular has become a sticking point. (That said, I’ve grown to really hate some of my heroes during the writing process because they were being so damn difficult!!). It’s certainly true that some stories are easier to write than others and if you’ve lost all enthusiasm for this one then maybe you should put it to one side and start afresh. But I’ve got to tell you that getting more writing experience isn’t going to miraculously make things easier. Cos it ain’t!! You may find the problems easier to spot, but you’ll still have to wrestle them into submission and they’ll almost certainly be just as hard to solve.

    Also, don’t beat yourself up about how you started visualising your story. Each author does it differently. Myself I usually start with an opening scene and build the characters from there. For Connor and Daisy’s story I just had that image of a feisty young woman climbing into her unknown neighbour’s back garden to find a missing cat. And another scene in mind of the same woman nursing the sick hero through the night. I didn’t know who they were, what their pasts were, nothing, nada. Then I started to write it… And apart from a few bumps and dips along the way and one reappraisal cos I’d taken a slight wrong turn, it worked beautifully.

    With my next story I already had Mac and Juno as fully-formed characters with well-defined pasts because they’d appeared in Hot-Shot. Their basic conflict was in place and I thought, great, this is going to be easy. It wasn’t until I’d started writing their story that I realised how wrong I was, and how big a mountain I’d made for myself to climb. Why? Because Juno, unlike Daisy, was a lot less sure of herself, a lot more damaged by her past and I’d gone and given her a hero who was so far out of her league it wasn’t even funny… I mean this guy wasn’t just a gorgeous, superrich Irish bad boy, he was a movie star who routinely dated supermodels and had his heart so well protected he’d got to the stage where he even denied the existence of love…

    Surprise, surprise. Their story turned out to be much, much harder to write. To the extent that I wrote ten whole chapters and then had to turn around, scrap the lot and go all the way back to the beginning again, because I hadn’t just taken a wrong turning, I’d gone on a six-hundred mile trek in completely the wrong direction – misreading Juno entirely and turning Mac into a man he was never meant to be.

    But I fixed it. It cost me a lot of sleepless nights (and my kids got shouted at a bit more than usual…) and I did need to use my editor as a sounding board because I’d totally lost faith in myself (I know you don’t have that luxury, but if you have a good crit partner they can do the same), but I finally dug out the story that I should have written in the first place…

    The motto of this long and rather boring anecdote?? Don’t be disheartened by the mistakes you make, sometimes you just have to take that six-hundred mile trek to find the right route. Analysing your characters, getting deep into their psyche and finding out why they do the things they do, deconstructing their internal conflict and piecing it all back together is all part of the process. Sometimes it evolves organically, sometimes you really have to work at it.

    Knowing something isn’t working is just the first step… Then you have to ask yourself is it worth the effort to fix it. You may decide this story isn’t worth the effort, but who’s to say your next story won’t have the same problems???

    From what you’ve said about this story and your characters, I think your problems may lie more in your external conflict – the hero needs the heroine to get him off the hook and become a princess so he doesn’t have to accede to the throne himself – and how it works with your internal one, than with your characters. Remember, at the start of the book, neither of your characters internal conflicts will be fully realised. You may know about them, but they won’t. This is something they are going to have to confront and resolve during the course of their relationship. So don’t tie yourself in knots thinking… But he wouldn’t do A, because he doesn’t want B, etc.

    In your first chapter, your hero (because he’s a Modern Heat, take charge kinda guy) is going to be solely focussed on getting what he wants, in this case getting the heroine to accept the job he doesn’t want to do himself. When he discovers she’s mousy and shy and not the princess type, but sees that she’s attracted to him and that to his astonishment he’s surprising attracted to her, wouldn’t he want to use that?? He’s a practiced womaniser because ever since his first wife’s death he’s been busy running away from relationships (something he’s not admitted to himself yet but which the heroine can make him aware of when she finds out this chink in his armour later on). He’s not going to be worrying about the heroine’s feelings yet because he doesn’t know her, she’s just a means to an end and he’s certainly not going to be worrying about falling in love with her (because he’s never going to do that again). At this stage all he’s going to see is a naive, insecure woman who can be easily moulded and surely a bit of seduction won’t hurt. He might even convince himself that he’s doing her a favour (to salve his conscience, because underneath his desire to get what he wants and the layers of cynicism and arrogance, is a good guy who’s tortured by guilt). What woman wants to live a dowdy unfulfilled existence when she can be a princess? He’s going to show her glamour and excitement and some harmless fun along the way and they’ll both get what they need at the end of the day.

    What he hasn’t counted on of course, is that she isn’t a pushover, she’s honest and open and incredibly sweet and that once he gets to know all that about her, he’s going to start falling in love with her. And that’s when the fun really starts, because him being vulnerable was never part of the plan.

    For her part of course, she’s going to be dead against having anything to do with this guy. He scares the bejesus out of her, he’s gorgeous and dominant and miles out of her league. She has no experience with men and she doesn’t want to be a bloody princess. But how’s she going to cope when he turns all that industrial-strength charm and charisma on her? When he flirts with her, kisses her, gives her a glimpse of what she’s been missing sexually? My theory is her body’s going to be saying ‘Go for it woman you may never get another chance like this’, while her mind’s going to be saying ‘Run like hell.’ But that’s all you need to know for now. How she copes, what she does, what he does (when he starts to realise that her naivete, her vulnerability is getting to him, giving have feelings for her he doesn’t want) is the next stage of the story.

    And remember for your story to work your heroine has to have conflicts she will overcome to get her HEA. It can’t just be the hero who’s growing and changing in the course of this relationship, she has to change too. And a cosmetic make-over isn’t enough. We have to see her becoming strong, becoming her own woman, standing up for herself, forcing the hero to confront his conflicts. If she starts out that way (practically perfect in every way! LOL) She has no conflict of her own. Nothing that the hero can add to her as a person, the way she’s going to add to him.

    Phew!! Hope all that helped. I’m not saying that’s the way you should do it. These are your characters and this is your story and you know them best. I’m just trying to illustrate the possibilities. Personally I think this story has real potential… Don’t give up on it too soon.

  21. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hey, Jackie, that’s fab that you figured out an amazing soloution to a problem story! Isn’t it a great feeling when we get those aha moments where the answer becomes clear.

    I’ve definitely started from the characters and the internal conflicts for my next story, that I’ve been planning when I take breaks from this one.

    I’ve been thinking about this hero and why I said I didn’t like him. Actually I do like him. A lot. He’s so inconsistent though. Poor Emma never knows where she is with him. And so bloody stubborn. I’m thinking like I would if these two were my friends, and I could see they’d be perfect together if only she’d just get over thinking no-one could really love her, and he’d just grow up and let himself fall in love again. He’s such a risk taker in his business, but he has just closed the door to emotional intimacy. No way is he taking the chance of being hurt again.

    I want to knock their heads together and say “Okay Emma, so your grandmother told you no-one would ever love you so you better resign yourself to a life of duty and only being valued for what you did for people. Well guess what? The selfish old bag was wrong! And Luk, I’m sorry your first girlfriend died and broke your heart. But get over it. Life does hurt sometimes. You think you’ve got such a great life with your making billions and your fancy apartment and your temporary girlfriends, but guess what, it’s only half a life. You ran away when you left Melusia after Bianca died, cutting yourself off from your friends and family, and you’re still running now. You won’t know what it’s like to really live until you take that chance and let someone inside your armour and learn to trust and love again.”

    Whew. Guess I have really strong feelings about these guys. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to bang their heads together often enough in the story to get the needed result of an HEA!

  22. waitingforthecall Says:

    OMG Heidi! What am amazing post. We were writing our comments at much the same time. You are a fricking mind reader! Somehow, you have pulled out the essence of exactly what the story is, and what I want for the first chapter, and expressed it far more beautifully than I could.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I’d already decided that Emma wasn’t going to be as plain as I originally intended at the beginning. She thinks she’s plain, but she’s not. Just sweetly unsophisticated and unsure of herself. They were going to kiss towards the end of the chapter. The twist I hadn’t thought of was the idea of Luk using her inexperience and attraction to him for his own purposes. He already contrasts the life she could have with the life she does have now, but using his charm as a weapon too, I hadn’t come up with. Brilliant!

    And you are so right that she overrides her fears by thinking “This is an opportunity I may never have again, I’m going to grab it with both hands and go for it.”

    Reading what you’ve said about Juno and Mac, the characters may have some similar issues, though the reasons are very different. I appreciate so much you sharing the journey you had with that story too. Not a “long and boring anecdote” at all, but a true traveller’s tale from someone who has has taken the 600 mile trek barefoot through the jungle, and come out the other side.

    I don’t want to give up on this story. I just got so bloody discouraged by the struggle. But between what you’ve said and what I realised about my characters replying to Jackie C, I’m ready to get going again!

  23. waitingforthecall Says:

    LOL, Heidi, you know if this story ever gets published I’m gonna have to dedicate it to you!

  24. Heidi R Says:

    Ahh, bless. That’s really sweet, glad I could help to kick-start your enthusiasm again.

    But remember, the story’s all there already in the characters you have created, it’s just a question of getting that pick and shovel and digging out the stuff that matters and discarding the stuff that doesn’t, or is leading you in the wrong direction.

    I could write several books on all the wrong turns I’ve taken in my stories (some of which I’m ashamed to admit my editor had to point out to me cos I hadn’t figured them out myself). But if this were easy every one would be doing it, right?

    Good luck and don’t give up.

  25. Jane,

    Thank you so much for pointing this discussion out to me. And, thanks to Lynn, Heidi and Jackie for your advice. Jackie and I just commented on another blog about throwing away all of the external factors. It is soooo hard to do.

    Now I have to re-evaluate about the intensity of my first chapter. 😦

    And, I have to admit, too, I have a knack for creating the initial situatuation. But, I have learned to forget about that and focus on the characters first.

    Jane, you should post the first chapter to our critique group so we can help you. (Or if I missed the chapter altogether, I apologize.)

    Great post!

  26. Oh, and I forgot to add. Don’t give up on this story. It may not be as hard of a fix as you think.

    Barbara

  27. waitingforthecall Says:

    It’s great to see you here, Barbara!

    Isn’t this discussion amazing? I feel so blessed by the generosity of everyone who’s shared advice and support.
    I’m hoping the first chapter will be edited by the end of the weekend. Heidi gave me the exact insight I needed for how to approach it.

    Also, I was too stuck on keeping the same beginning and just tweaking it. Wasn’t working. The first couple of thousand words are being completely rewritten, with change in starting point and POV. I’m just under a thousand words now, and not an infodump in sight.

    It might just be working!

  28. waitingforthecall Says:

    Meant to say- Barbara, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

  29. Shall we set a date?

    BTW, from reading your story idea, I think we have similiar ideas, just aiming for different lines.

    Barbara

  30. waitingforthecall Says:

    Ugh, just back from doing my big weekly shop and I got drenched in a downpour!
    I’m hoping to put my chapter to the group tomorrow night, though it may not be completely redone by then.
    Hey, when we are published, we can use these first chapters as teaching examples for before and after editing. Thought I think this is my seventh attempt at this first chapter!

  31. You know, we could really use the rain here!

    This will be my third attempt, I think. I am going to post mine sometime next week.

    Talk to you soon.

    Barbara

  32. Jackie Says:

    Wow, Heidi, I just want to say that your problems with Mac and Juno sound exactly like the problems I had with the h&h in the story of mine that was ultimately rejected. I should have done what you did and just scrapped the first half of the book and rewrote entirely. If I’d done that it may have been accepted. Oh well, you live and learn.

    Anyway, Jane, glad to know it’s working. Yes, sometimes tweaking doesn’t help and you just have to bite the bullet and rewrite completely – as above!

    Good luck with it!

  33. I have to thank Jackie for pointing me to this discussion – and I’ll have to come back later and have a really good read (as I’m stealing time at the moment).

    Barbara… would that be my blog *grin/shudder* you’re talking about!!

    I think I’ll have to put up more of what I’m trying to do… but this time I’m determined to get all this internal conflict sorted before I start.

    Heidi – really rang true for me what you said about it not getting any easier the more writing experience you get. In some ways the last year and a half has been the best for me writing wise, but in others the toughest. I’ve started getting detailed feedback in rejections and you think this would make it easier to fix the issues but it means I CANNOT switch off my internal editor and I’m running into SOOOOOOOOOo much doubt it pretty much freezes me up whenever i write.

    Anyway back later to read properly and comment more probably!

    Jane – thanks for a FABULOUS post! I’ll be adding you to my blog list!! Don’t know why I didn’t do so before… tardiness probably!

  34. Heidi R Says:

    Bummer, Jackie. It’s always crap to get a rejection, especially if you have that ah-ha moment afterwards…. And while published authors do get stories rejected it’s usually at the partial stage. The great luxury of having an editor is you can thrash through all this stuff with them.

    Although, having said that, I’ve had a couple of books which I’ve had to rewrite two-thirds of at the revision stage because I didn’t do that. After that horrendous experience I’ve now got into the habit of writing a synopsis (with the conflict worked out) before I write the story. Duh!

    I really loved the opening chapter of Chasing Kate, you have a great Modern Heat voice, so I reckon it’s only a matter of time before you have an ed of your own.

  35. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hi Rach, thanks for visiting! I’ve added your blog to my list as well. I was looking around to find where BB had been talking to you… now I know.

    Well done on the third place in the comp, and I laughed out loud reading what you have as starters for your next story- can’t wait to see this one!

    We’re all gonna crack this character driven plot and conflict thing!

    I started writing here about what I have planned for my next story, but may just make that a separate post.

  36. I am totally late returning to this discussion, but must say that Heidi’s assessment of the situation is brilliant! That’s what you want, that thread of the internal conflict overarching everything. She’s really dug in there and pulled it out for you, which is great! See, you DO have the proper story. (And it definitely sounds more Modern Heat than Modern to me!)

    Believe me, this doubt and irritation is all part of the process! I start much like Heidi, with two characters in a situation, and then must figure out their problems. I was just on the phone with my editor on Friday, and she kept asking me WHY my characters were doing what they were doing in the very bad synopsis I sent her. And I don’t know! I have to write the first three chapters to understand. I send those to her, and she tells me what I need to hone. I’ve only had 3 books accepted, so haven’t reached the point of writing something they completely reject yet, but I’m sure it’s possible in that proposal stage if I totally run off the rails. Usually, I fix the story and she likes what I’ve done. But she typically has a lot of suggestions in those first 3 chapters!

    So keep slogging onward. This is how you get the brass ring. 🙂 Keep working, writing, trying, rewriting, and never give up. You’ll get there.

  37. waitingforthecall Says:

    Your Call story and persistence is inspiring, Lynn Raye. THanks for the encouragement!


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