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!

No progress to report November 8, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:25 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Well, not on the page or in my word count anyway.

I’m committed to editing Luk and Emma’s story, my Presents competition entry, after all that procrastination.

This will mean facing front on the fact that my first draft is total crap, not just ordinary everyday first draft crap,  but full on crappier than crappy crap, the worst writing dreck imaginable. I’m really not looking forward to that.  So I still haven’t read over my first draft!

That may not be such a bad thing, as I don’t know how much of it is salvageable anyway. I wrote most of it in a mad headlong rush doing Book in a Week. There are are huge diversions in there, not just chapters but several chapters going into things that won’t occur at all in my final edit. The kidnapping sequence has to go, for example. Now, I love the whole thing. If I was aiming for single title, I think I’d keep it, though it would still need heavily editing. But it has no place at all in a Presents/ Modern. This is really killing my darlings! I know I don’t need to read over that section. But I do have to at least read most of the draft. There may actually be stuff in there that is good or can be made good, brief flashes where  have really got inside the character and they are authentically there on the page. So I can’t just bin the lot and start from scratch. Getting rid of the kidnap bit is actually one of the easier decisions.

There are smaller but more significant choices. What I have done so far is managed to plot out the story in a sort of outline. This is what I want to happen in this chapter, and that’s what needs to happen in the next chapter type thing. Hopefully that will help keep me on track, help me cut out everything that doesn’t impact on the core relationship. But before I can rewrite, there are questions I need to answer, that my outline isn’t helping with.

 My heroine has to be an orphan with no brothers or sisters, that’s essential to the premise. Not so the hero. In the first draft, he has a large happy family of origin who he has chosen to leave behind after his first wife dies.

Now I am wondering whether to kill them all off too and have him a lone wolf by necessity as well as choice.

Mainly because now he’s going home again, and if I leave in the big family, I can’t help but have a cast of millions of secondary characters cluttering things up! My first draft has a whole chapter of not much more happening but the heroine meeting his family- that’s gotta go. I have three long chapters in my draft I need to roll into one for this to work. So cutting his family would help with that.

But that’s not such a simple decision. It says something different about Luk as a person if he chooses to cut himself off from his support systems when tragedy hits him, rather than being simply forced to go it alone. I have to think about which fits his character best and which option works best to hook into his relationship block. Maybe I’m even going to have to try it both ways to see what works best. Hopefully I can decide without having to do that!

I do see him as more the lone wolf by choice.

So how is that personality trait going to be affected, when changed circumstances and the choices he makes for how to deal with those circumstances force him back home, back into contact with his family? How is that going to impact on the choices he makes about his relationship with Emma? How is that going to deepen his internal conflict and lead inevitably to the Black Moment, when he once again chooses to go it alone? And what will it take to make him change?

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6 Responses to “No progress to report”

  1. Janet Says:

    “I do see him as more the lone wolf by choice.

    So how is that personality trait going to be affected, when changed circumstances and the choices he makes for how to deal with those circumstances force him back home, back into contact with his family? How is that going to impact on the choices he makes about his relationship with Emma? How is that going to deepen his internal conflict and lead inevitably to the Black Moment, when he once again chooses to go it alone? And what will it take to make him change?”

    I love these questions. You seem to have such a good grasp of how to develop the inner stuff and use it to compliocate the plot. Do you draw up a set of questions like these for each character when you’re at the planning stage?

  2. Maisey Says:

    Just my opinion, Jane, but I think it might add more conflict if he cuts himself off by choice. Anything that gives the possibility for more insight into his character, and more drama, is always good! Gives you more material to work with! 🙂

    And it is NOT crap!!!

    Loves!

    Maisey

  3. waitingforthecall Says:

    I haven’t used questions like this in the past at the planning stage. I can see it could be something useful though! It feels like I’ve been working on this story for ages- and I have- but I’m hoping this is my “training” story where I get a lot of stuff figured out that will help me write future stories better.

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    LOL, Maisey, there’s a good reason I don’t let anyone read my first drafts- it really truly is crap! And yes, I’m definitely going with him choosing to cut himself off from his family. I kinda work my writing problems out in the blog sometimes and throw around all the possibilities, but that was what seemed would give more possibilities to feed into present conflict. That chhosing to isolate then becomes a pattern he carries over into his relationship with Emma. I might get rid of some of his sisters though. In first draft he had 4 married sisters all with kids, so it was a cast of thousands. Maybe one sister as well as his parents back in Melusia will be enough!

  5. Eileen Says:

    He can have the whole family on the island or wherever the kingdom is … but you only need a few family members “in residence” at the palace or wherever. That can happily cut down your cast of characters that actually have to be interacted with. 🙂

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    Yes, that’s what i’m thinking! Though I do lose something – Emma loves the big family thing and being part of a new family helps her to blossom, while the same thing makes Luk feel suffocated. I don’t know if I need to try to keep that or if there’s enough emotional stuff to work with already.

    How’s the Nano going?


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