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!

Ready to go? October 15, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:50 pm
Tags: , ,

Well, I worked on my first chapter and synopis (hell trying to boil down 4 single spaced pages of story summary to 2 double spaced!) the rest of the weekend. Thought I had them pretty much ready to go.

Then I went to Trish Wylie’s blog. Saw her brilliant Common Romance Writing Mistakes course. Spent all day Monday reading it. Oh boy. Thanks Trish for so much fab info! It’s been around for a while, I started reading it way back in July when she first started it, then got sidetracked. I guess now was the perfect time to come back to it.

Some of the exercises got me thinking again about my competition entry. I’ve rewritten the synopsis (it actually is  two pages double spaced now, I don’t have to cheat with 1 1/2 spacing and hoping they don’t mind!). Her hint to start with a 150 word or less pitch type blurb really worked, it helped me to focus in on the essence of the story. I keep forgetting that a short synopsis is NOT a plot summary. It’s characters, conflicts, and resolutions.

And I’ll be spending this weekend rewriting chapter one. I’m going to try start the story with what is now page 8! So the challenge will be squeezing  in the background I’d already dripped into those pages, without resorting to infodump. But it’s a better, stronger, punchier start. I’ll report back on if I feel it’s worked!


10 Responses to “Ready to go?”

  1. Ferdous Says:

    Jane, I actually bought the book “38 most common fiction writing mistakes” after reading Trish’s blog. Coincidentally, I actually started reading the book again on Friday and a few chapters yesterday. Hope I pick up some useful info.

    I’m thinking about the writing competition, see I’m more interested in historical romance (my NWS submission was a historical romance) so to think of a contemporary was a bit of a surprise. I’ve had this idea bubbling away for a while but if I’m to submit a chapter, then I need to think hard about it. I’m still thinking whether I should submit or not. Deadline two weeks away….

    I hope you submit, would really like to read your story. All the best to you,


  2. Eileen Says:

    Ack! 2 pages double spaced is NOT much room, I’m discovering. Bravo to the editors/judges for being able to tell if the have a good novel on their hand with only that much info!

    “It’s characters, conflicts, and resolutions.” I’m gonna have to keep chanting that to myself.

    I think I could write the 150 word blurb/pitch … but then it’s a matter of what else do I include to expand it?

  3. waitingforthecall Says:

    I did still stretch it as far as I could – 1″ margins and Times New Roman not Courier! The benefit of the blurb was that it gave me a punchier way to introduce the characters, and made me focus on the main conflict. It got me out of the “This happened then this happened then this happened” – I realised I could cut a lot of what I previously felt had to be included . Of course, maybe I’ve got it wrong this time! Maybe the stuff I’ve left out is the exact stuff I should have left in. I really do just have who the characters are, what pushes them together, what keeps them apart and how they get together in the end. Hope its enough! They liked my last synopsis, though I remember that was more of a plot summary. Shame that obviously they thought the story sucked as they didn’t want to see more of it! The synopsis dificulty is not helped by the example synopsis on eHarl being a long detailed one. I think that’s the sort contracted writers send if they are doing a proposal, right? Good luck with yours anyway, Eileen! I have just a couple of last tweaks to do on the chapter, then I’ll send mine off this weekend so I can seriously dig into sorting out the rest of it. My first draft doesn’t actually have much resemblance to the story I want to end up with,so its gonna need a huge amount of work. Fingers crosed for a full request!

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Sorry for the delay in replying Ferdous, somehow I missed your comment.
    How are you finding the 38 Mistakes book? Worth buying, or has Trish distilled the best of it for us?

    Historicals! Well done you! I love reading them but I can’t imagine all the work that must go into writing one. What period is yours set in?

  5. Ferdous Says:

    Jane, I can see you’re busy! the historical I submitted to the nsw was set in the regency but I also love the vikings/normans/romans and etc and hope to write in those periods as well. I wish they had a competition for a historical!!

    If you have kate walkers 12 point guide to writing romance, she does wonderful example of what kind of a synopsis to write, however I think you and eileen seem to be on the right track. As for pub. writers sending in detailed synopsis, I recall reading some writers just give a 2 line synopsis to their editors and they get the go ahead. Lucky them.

  6. Caroline Says:

    Like Ferdous I “normally” write (HM&B) Historicals. But I’ve given it a go and cobbled together a first Chapter and Synopsis and sent it off yesterday to HM&B. It’s probably cr*p but there you go. But I have written it and as the old saying goes “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. Good luck to you and all the others out there in cyber space who are going to enter! Take care. Caroline x

  7. waitingforthecall Says:

    Fabulous, Caroline! I’m sure it’s not nearly as crap as you think it is (okay to use that word, seeing the sainted Nora used it). Good luck with your entry- may we get full requests all around!

  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Great suggestion Ferdous. I do have Kate Walker’s book and need to pull it out again. Maybe actually do the exercises this time too! I love the Regency. The first romance I ever read was Georgette Heyer’s Charity Child. Not even one of her best, but I was hooked. I love the Medieval period too. I’ve been playing around with the idea of a WW2 romance for ages- I worked with elderly patients for a while and many of them had fascinating stories of how they met their husbands during the war. I know that tends to be the territory currently inhabited by the “family saga”, but I’d love to read a romance set in that time. It would be great if they had a comp for historical. Even a pitch comp like they have periodically on Eharlequin. But you can always just go for it and submit! I’ll be cheering you on! BTW, was the NWS feedback useful?

  9. Ferdous Says:

    Jane, the NWS feedback was a mixed bag. I sent in the first 3 chapters and a synopsis and was told that I can write a synopsis and that my writing was interesting -not sure what that meant- that few characters may need to be tone down and so on. I guess since it didn’t come back with “you can’t write so don’t bother us again” I’ll try again next year, hopefully send a complete MSS, edited and polished as much as I can. silly typo’s, mispellings and etc were pointed out, my face was as red as a tomato!

  10. waitingforthecall Says:

    Those little typos are soooooo annoying. Its amazing how they creep through despite all the readings. Hey, interesting is good! I think in this context you can take that to mean page turning quality, not that she was just struggling to say something kind!And being able to write a synopsis is an excellent skill. I’m glad now I didn’t send my WiP in. I knew it wasn’t ready, I only had a partial edited, the first draft was incredibly rough, and there were still too many issues with the set up and the conflict at that stage. I hope I know how to fix that now, though of course I won’t know for sure until I rewrite that rubbish first draft and see if it works! Like you, I plan to try again next year, but I need to make sure I have a completed story in time!Hopefully real Life will co-operate next year and not get in the way quite so much! I really am getting fed up with this story. I’ve been working on it most of the year! It will probably never get published either. But I don’t want to let it go yet – I still like the characters and I still like the set up. This is my training story – I’ve learned so much writng it, and there is still more to learn yet!

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