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
Tags: , , ,

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!


3 Responses to “Breakthrough?”

  1. Eileen Says:

    Exciting that things are working out for your characters and that they’re chatting with you 🙂 also exciting to be on vacation 🙂

    I’m feeling overwhelmed at the moment (life in general) and having too many ideas — which I just blogged about.

    Hope you have a great trip!

  2. Mark Tweedie Says:

    Hi Jane, I’m really pleased to find you like my pinhole work. It’s great, too, to find an interesting blog like yours which reminds yet again that I really should devote more time to writing myself. Ah, time! If only there were more of it….

  3. Maisey Says:

    That’s a great breakthrough, Jane!

    I was just wondering if I might have crossed the line on my hero and made him a little too imperfect. He’s getting a little nasty at the end here!

    So glad you’ve got some stuff worked out, and that you can enter Luk and Gabi in the comp!!

    Fly back safe from Oz!


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