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!

Editing blues August 5, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:59 pm
Tags: , ,

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!


4 Responses to “Editing blues”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Have a big hug (((Jane)))

    It’s best when all the CPs say the same thing (but rare!) but when it comes down to it don’t underestimate your own gut instinct about stuff.

    I think it’s very hard to keep it fluent when you’ve had changes of conflict etc that you’re trying to add in. It’s really tough work so try not to be too hard on yourself. Sounds like you could do with a day or two of just being nice to yourself.

    Take care,


  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks for the hug Lorraine!

    Back on track now, did another edit of the chapter last night, now home from work and tweaking it a bit more. It’s still not quite there, but a lot better than it was. It still doesn’t have enough pace. enough page turning quality.

    Oh well. It’s still the best I’ve written. I just hope that adding that “spark” can be learned just like craft can. Let’s see what my NWS reader has to say!

    How’s your writing going? Are you working on an entry for the Presents/Modern Heat comp?

  3. Lorraine Says:

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better.
    My own writing? Having huge wibbles about my competition entry and considering throwing it out and starting a new idea! So, not great 🙂 I’ll probably have changed my mind by tomorrow though…

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hey Lorraine, I hope you reconsidered throwing that entry in the bin!

    You know as soon as you start planning the new story, all sorts of lovely ideas for this one will distract you and tempt you back to it.

    And think how many published writer’s blogs you’ve seen where they admit they felt exactly the same part way through a book and we know it turned out to be a fabulous read by the end of it all, ‘cos we’ve read it? Julie Cohen and Trish Wylie come straight to mind.

    I do think giving ourselves a break from a story when we feel like that and doing something else can be a good idea. Binning it? No way!

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