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!

Breakthrough? September 25, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:11 pm
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breakthroughStunning image from photographer Mark Tweedie’s site.


















I’m feeling a sense of freedom and release today- I’m on vacation at last. I love the new day job (not so new now, I’ve been there four months!) but it’s brain numbingly busy. I haven’t done any writing at all for a while.

Today,  I gave advice to one of the writer’s in my writing group. Emailed a post to the group while on my train commute to work this morning, telling her what I thought she should do. Laughable, as I’m the least prolific and the “girl least likely to succeed” in our group! No-one with any sense would take my advice.

But I took my own advice. I’m a big believer that what we most want to advise or teach others is what we most need to learn ourselves. Proved it true this morning.

What I wrote was- Sit down with your characters. Read what you have already writing. If you feel stuck, get them to talk to you, tell you how they feel and what they intend to do about it. Then have them do the thing that’s going to get them in most trouble.

Within a minute of writing that, Luk, the hero of my abandoned Presents story, told me the answer to a key scene in the story, the one that really sets up all the big problems for the characters and precipitates their marriage of convenience. The scene I’d gotten stuck on in my edits because my plot device required him to behave so stupidly out of character he just wouldn’t do it.

He told me why he did it.

I didn’t even ask, hadn’t been thinking about the story. I had asked my subconscious, back when I decided to take a break from writing,  to please work on a solution to the problem.

Hopefully, I’ve found it!

The heroine needs to be quite different in the lead up to the scene, but that’s good too. She was nice enough, but maybe a touch insipid. This change gives her a lovely touch of fire that she needed. She’s suddenly come to life as a character too, very differently to how I first saw her. Her strengths were a little too “do-gooder”ish before. This gives her a real and very believable weakness, that gets them both into big trouble.

I realised I’d been playing it too safe, being too kind to my characters, wanting them to be too perfect. They needed to be allowed to make dangerous choices, but given damn good reason for doing it.

I think Luk and Emma (or Gabi, I’m still not sure which heroine it will be- but the new insight fits Emma’s character better) will be coming on holiday with me!


Reading, reading, reading…but not writing September 12, 2009

Filed under: What I'm reading,Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:47 pm
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Okay, I confess. I’ve been a total slacker and have done no writing at all this week.

I feel strangely relaxed, like a kid let out of school. I know I’ll start writing again soon, the characters will start nagging me to write their story! But in the meantime, I’m realising just how much pressure I was putting on myself to write.

Somehow, I need to find a balance. Find a way to write regularly and consistently, but without turning it into a miserable, creativity-destroying chore. Somehow, find the joy in writing again. I don’t know how to do that yet. I do know that lately I’ve seen writing as a  miserable task to be completed, rather than a pleasure, apart from the odd moments when I’m in the flow and the words just come like magic.

In the meantime, I’m happy planning a trip back to Australia in a couple of weeks, sewing a suitcase full of clothes to wear (loving expressing that very practical side of my creativity again!), and reading plenty to refill the well.

I just found this link to ten free Mills and Boon ebooks, to celebrate a year of them doing ebooks. Yay! More fab books to read!  And there’s a Modern Heat from Heidi Rice in there! I’m even happier to see they support Mobipocket, the ebook format I use on my PDA so I can read on my commute or wherever, without filling my already ridiculously overloaded bag with paperback books  (I really do carry the biggest tote in the world to work with me everyday!).

So thank you M&B.