I’m off work for the second day with some sort of virus, aching all over (like the day after doing the toughest exercise class imaginable), feeling miserable and sorry for myself.
I’m just about to start back into yet another edit of the first chapter of the WIP. Not the new story that the internal conflict post was about, but the previous one, the WIP from Hell, Luk and Emma’s story. This is the one discussed in the “Presents or not Presents” post. A very rough first draft is complete, and I want to have a go at editing this before I start first drafting the new story.
This is the book that I know I will look back and see as my “learning” story. It’ll probably (quite rightly!) never get published. But in the struggle and the mistakes and the OMG-I-just-want-to-throw-it-in-the-bin-and-never-look-at-the-bloody-thing-ever-again moments, there will have been just enough aha moments to make it the best classroom in romance writing I could possibly have.
I spent last weekend working on the first chapter. I wrote a lot of new material as I decided to drop a prologue type beginning in the hero’s POV, and get rid of a secondary character who was there for most of the hero and heroine’s meeting in the original version, then cobbled together the bits that fit from three separate versions of the chapter. I knew it still needed a lot of polishing, but wanted some feedback on how it worked before I went any further with it. So I posted it to my incredibly perceptive and supportive crit group.
Interesting response! None of them thought my voice was Modern Heat, even though that was what I was aiming for. Three thought it was Presents/ Modern, one thought it was Sweet. Two thought the hero needed Alphaing up more, one felt he needed softening, one felt he was fine as he was for a Sweet. Ack! Instant approval need crisis.
This conflicting advice made me realise there’s a darned good reason the heroine in my next story has a big issue with needing approval and wanting to make everyone else happy! I do hope my heroine reacts a bit better than I did though, or she won’t be the least bit sympathetic.
I went straight into the “But what do I do now? Waaaaaaaaaaah!” overload of a people pleaser faced with competing requirements. It didn’t help that I was tired, ill, pre-menstrual, and already emotional over an old grief that events of the day had reactivated earlier. I probably needed that little meltdown, though I’m not sure the girls in my crit group did!
Anyway, once I got all the emotions out the way and could actually think about it, I realised, surprise surprise, they weren’t giving conflicting advice at all. I’d already done the “Well, all I can do is write it how it seems right to me and not care what anyone else thinks” bit, but that sort of defeats the purpose of being in a critique group. So even though the advice seemed divergent, I tried to look for the common threads.
What I figured out was, they are each totally correct in their assessments. I cobbled this chapter together from lots of versions written over a six month period. My voice is bound to be all over the place. I’m still in the process of finding it. So I need to go in there and smooth that out. My hero is inconsistent too, for the same reason. They are all right about the changes he needs. There are some places he needs Alphaing up, and others where his hard edges need rasping off, where he needs to use charm not force.
Actually, and this seems so obvious I’m embarrassed to say this- I need to sit down and read the frigging chapter. I put it together, spellchecked it, and sent it off to them. But I hadn’t really looked at it properly, hadn’t read it as a whole, I’d only read the little piece I was working on at the time. A bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle on the wrong side, so you can’t see the entire thing, can’t see how that piece fits with the rest.
One thing I’m learning. Always keep my eye on the big picture!