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!

Confused (again!) August 30, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:08 am
Tags: , , ,

I sat down to write a plan for the new version of the Princess story and what I wanted to write today.

LOL, plan? I don’t have one. I am totally confused, yet again.

I thought I was going to take parts of the MH version, and parts of the original version, and mix them together in a first person LBD version.

But I read some of the first version again, and it’s surprisingly good. Pure Presents, but not too badly written at all. That’s where the confusion comes from. I thought I’d decided my voice wasn’t really Presents. But what I read suggests “Hey, maybe the girls were right, maybe that is where I fit best.” I can see where I went wrong with it too. It was never going to work as I first planned it, with way too much external conflict and a villain who was the driver of the plot. But actually if I take all that out, there’s enough internal conflict already there to carry the story.

So Emma goes back to being Gabi from the first version, who grew up in a loving home and misses that so much since her grandmother died. She’s just lost her job, can’t pay her rent, and has just broken up her lukewarm relationship with her boyfriend too. Her external goal at the start of the story is to get a job and a home. Her inner need is to be part of a family again, to feel that sense of love and belonging. Her relationship block is the unrealistic idea of a perfect love her grandmother has brought her up with.

Luk stays the man he is in the second version, but gains some of the ruthlessness, the “do anything as long as it’s within the letter of the law to obtain my goal” quality of the first Luk. His external goal is to avoid having to become Prince of Melus, by getting Gabi to become Princess. His inner need, though he is not aware of it, and if he was aware of it he’d die before admitting it, is to feel loved for himself, not his wealth. He really wants to be part of a family again too, but feels he lost the right to that when his first wife died. His relationship blocks are the walls he’s put around his heart, his unwillingness to trust, and his guilt over Bianca’s death.

Well, I can see straight away when I write it out like that- this story is Presents and not single title. It’s all about Luk. Who has the furthest to come before they can be in this relationship, the biggest blocks to overcome?

Presents is about the heroine being the catalyst for the hero to chance, she grows and changes too but he is the one who has to change the most to allow the relationship to be possible. Single title is all about the heroine, her emotional journey. Unless I rethink it, this story won’t work as single title. Though of course, I can see what I am doing is still working from Presents “rules”. I have created the perfect Presents hero. LBD Luk would be different.

The starting point is always always always the characters, what they want and need, what stops them being together, what needs to happen to change that.

So what do I do? Do I have yet another try at this story, writing it as Presents, maybe for this year’s competition entry? Do I just put it aside for a while, because part of me wonders if I’m too close to it, if I can’t see the right path through the forest because I’m stuck in a tangle of trees? 

I can kiss any hope of getting something in for the RNA New Writer’s Scheme (I had this mad idea I could write like a maniac this weekend straightening out a partial of Luk and Emma, then hand deliver my entry tomorrow, the closing date!), so why not start on the new story? Which, coincidentally, will work far far better as a single title than a Presents or Modern Heat, because I have a conflicted heroine (though her life looks just fine on the surface) and a relatively straightforward hero, who is steadfastly resisting my efforts to give him more conflict.  

Or why not still write like a maniac on a Presents version of Luk and Emma/Gabi, put the partial in for the NWS, and use the feedback from that to strengthen it before I send it off as my competition entry? I can then start the new story while I’m waiting for feedback.

I think a big part of my conflict is coming from feeling I have to get something in for the New Writers’ Scheme. Not because I don’t want to waste the money, but because I feel so guilty about taking a place that another, more orgainised writer, could have used. In mitigation, m’Lud, can I say that if I’d had any idea how my year was going to pan out, I would never have joined. I didn’t know what a huge but hopefully ultimately productive muddle about this story I was going to get myself in, either. If I could forget about the NWS, forget about the HMB competition, and just let myself play with the story and have some fun with it. maybe by year end or even sooner, I’d have a clear view of what and how I want to write, and could move on forward with my writing. And set some more realistic writing goals for next year. This year’s were ludicrously optimistic, even without all the other stuff going on.

I gotta laugh at myself! Does everyone else have a clear idea of their writing plans and goals, unlike me?

And does anyone have strategies they can share for keeping to one’s writing goals even when depressed, stressed, and juggling home responsibilities, a long commute, and a brain-frying job?


8 Responses to “Confused (again!)”

  1. Caroline Says:

    Hello. Why not leave your story for a week or two and then go “re-visit” it with a view of subbing it to the HM&B Competition? After all we only need to sub the 1st chapter and the synopsis…and it doesn’t have to be in until November.

    Sometimes we need to leave our babies alone for a while to see where they lead us. I’ve done this when I’ve been tempted to press the “delete” button on the whole ms! When I’ve had a break, maybe caught up on some (much needed) sleep there is a “eureka” moment and I realise that maybe it’s not that bad and I can salvage something from it. Give it a go. You never know. Take care. Caroline x

  2. Janet Says:

    Hi Jane,

    It would be such a shame to waste your NWS entry fee. Maybe they will let you carry your entry over into next year?
    especially if you explain about being depressed, stressed, and juggling home responsibilities, a long commute, and a brain-frying job?

    If they won’t, then definitely go for this:
    “write like a maniac on a Presents version of Luk and Emma/Gabi, put the partial in for the NWS, and use the feedback from that to strengthen it before I send it off as my competition entry? I can then start the new story while I’m waiting for feedback.”

    although this worries me a little: “His external goal is to avoid having to become Prince of Melus, by getting Gabi to become Princess.” You’d maybe need to make sure he doesn’t come over as cowardly in avoiding his responsibiltites.

  3. Aideen Says:

    Hey Nurse Jane,

    How’s it going? Well, you know me therefore you know
    that I have no ‘real’ advice to offer you. But…how about
    you take some of your own advice and ‘pretend’ to block
    out NWS/competition possibilities and just write?
    Let go let flow and see where your words and your
    wonderful voice take you.
    Reading this post and seeing the depth of change you
    could carry out does very much put this story back on
    Presents territory and I think that’s great personally. I
    love your voice and your ability to conjure up some fab
    images, not to mention witty ones! So how about doing
    what makes you least angsty and letting me read the
    whole thing?????

    Or you could just knock back a bottle of vino and then
    see where your writing takes you, that might be fun too.
    Either way, I’m just glad to see that despite your confusion
    you seem to have the old enthusiasm back.

    Lurking tonight so I’ll be talking to you later,

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Caroline, I think you may be right about leaving it for a while. It could be that I’m just too close to this story to see what’s going to work best in it.
    If only I didn’t feel so guilty about the NWS thing. Still, if it wasn’t for that I’d just find something else to feel guilty about! Us guilt ridden ones have such a need. I could try- OMG, Oasis have broken up, and it’s all my fault because I didn’t buy their last album?

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hi Janet, sorry you got caught in moderation, my spam filter gets touchy about new email addresses.!
    I’m wondering whether rather than sending in a partial, I can just send in two synopses and ask which one they think would work better. I don’t think they would allow me to carry over my entry to next year- part of the NWS thing is training in meeting deadlines- which I’ve just failed miserably!
    Good point about making it clear Luk is not just avoiding his responsibilities. There is an element of him not wanting to take on that responsibility, but it is one he never expected and one that he has good reasons not to want. Not wanting to take on the role of Prince triggers his search for another heir, but once he discovers the heroine is actually ahead of him in the succession, he has no right to the throne anymore. Even if he wanted it, he could not in honour take it.

    But one thing you’ve made me realise- the Luk of the first version could behave ruthlessly to force her to become princess, because his motivation for wanting her to be princess was very different, for the benefit of the country not his personal benefit. If I’m keeping Luk’s personal situation and motivation from the second version, no way can he behave so ruthlessly, he would just seem a selfish bastard. So if I do write this story, I want the heroine from the first version with the hero from the second version. No wonder I’m confused!

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hey Aideen, great to see you here, Ms Lurker.

    LOL, of course you’ll get to read it first, when I have anything worth letting someone else read, that is!

    My project starting tonight (home from the MiL’s, all houseworky weekend stuff done, so the rest of the long weekend is mine to do nothing but write!) is to do two synopses for this story, one as Presents and one as LBD. I’m hoping that will tell me which story I most want to write.

    If not, I’m taking Caroline’s advice and putting this one aside for a while and starting on the next one, which is definitely LBD.

  7. Debra Dixon Says:



    Sorry to post in a comment but I couldn’t find a direct email button for you.

    I noticed GMC is in your lovely list of craft books. Yay! But the publisher is: Gryphon Books For Writers.

    You can use their web address: http://www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com

    I absolutely hate for people to pay the ridiculous prices on Amazon when they can buy direct from the publisher for $20 and shipping!


  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hey, thanks for visiting! I love your book, and find doing GMC charts for my main characters hugely helpful. I’ll change the mention and add the link. I bought it direct- even with international postage it beat the Amazon prices by a huge margin!

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