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!

Decisions, decisions November 14, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 4:04 pm
Tags: ,

I’m supposed to be editing.

But I’ve hit another sticking point.

Too many options, that’s the problem. It’s like those choose-your-own-adventure books. I could take the same starting point and end up with the hero and heroine at a hundred different destinations. Every step along the way, they are making decisions, and each decision could open up a different set of options.

I just realised that the heroine actually has all the power in the situation. The hero needs her, no way around it, and she knows it. Now if she was a different sort of woman, she would use that as some sort of bargaining or blackmail weapon. But she’s not that sort of woman, and how to do that without de-Alphaing him anyway? I need to think through what the story I am trying to create here really is.

I really don’t know, and that’s most of my problem. I’m trying to edit this mess of a first draft into something I can submit to Presents if I am lucky enough to get a full request. But after the last posting, I realised I really want to do this as a single title type thing, with some magical realism thrown in, to play up the fairy tale aspects of it all.

Not even the LBD version, “A Modern Girl’s Guide to Being a Princess”, with the Grace Kelly film references; but to go wild with an insane fairy tale mix, enchanted palace, talking animals and all.

The discipline of doing it as a Presents will be good for me. But I’m not convinced my premise totally works, as the possible plot hole I just discovered shows. Well, it’s not really a plot hole, I guess. But I do have to show that they are both aware of it, realise it gives her the control in the situation, while maintaining his total Alphaness. She loses out unless she does what he wants her to, so she needs to go along with him. It’s a matter of whether she chooses to make him suffer a bit in the meantime.  I don’t think she will. But she does need to let him know she knows that she could, if she wanted to. Actually, it could be a good opportunity to show more of the hero’s motivation.

Yes, figured it out, I hope! Okay, keep going, write this story as a Presents. Even though the more I read of it the more I can’t help thinking that if it belongs with Harlequin Mills and Boon at all, it’s a Sweet Romance.

But if I get an R from the competition, I’m going to really let rip with this story as a crazy magical realism fairy tale romance!


8 Responses to “Decisions, decisions”

  1. Jackie Says:

    Jane, re the heroine having all the power, if she blackmails him will depend on how badly she wants whatever she wants. And you’ll only de-alpha the hero if he takes no action on being blackmailed. Him being alpha is all about how he responds to the situation. And an alpha would probably want to take back control however he could. 😉

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    She didn’t blackmail him, but they both acknowledge that she could have done. No doubt about it, my premise is basically flawed for Presents because he needs her to do something and has no power over her to compel her to do it.

    LOL, in a very early draft (the story has been through several incarnations- that was version 2, I think) the hero was ruthless. He got her sacked from her job and broke up her relationship with her boyfriend, to get her in a position where she couldn’t refuse him. And he didn’t see anything at all wrong with doing that. It was for her own good, after all.

    He was very much a Presents Alpha. Problem was, I didn’t like him!

  3. Jackie Says:

    Hmmm, that IS a toughie. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a flawed premise for Presents – I’m sure I’ve read lots of others where the heroine has something the hero wants. He just needs to find the heroine’s weakness – himself maybe? 😉 Or play up what she will lose if she doesn’t do what he wants.
    The thing is, if she makes him suffer (never a bad thing), you have to give him an action to take in order to keep him being alpha. He probably wouldn’t just sit there and take it if you get my meaning.

    Good luck with it anyhoo!

  4. Maisey Says:


    Prime example of a premise needing tweaking was BB. In the first incarnation Elaine had too much power, but shifting it wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated. The key was to make it so that he had the upper hand. And in some ways, the tweak from beta to alpha was the easiest thing I had to do with that MS.

    I’m confident in you. If I can do it I know darn well you can. I think your plot is very Presents. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work as something else, but it WILL work as a Presents, I’m sure of it. The big thing, I think, is realizing that sometimes all it takes is tweaking to bring about a power balance, or a sublte addition of alphaness.

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks Jackie! I’m just writing it as it feels right and then maybe it will become clearer whether this is Presents or Romance. The first draft was such a hot mess that I could have taken it in any direction, I’d got so far off the track with it.
    My hero is far more powerful, wealthy, and experienced than my heroine, yet just by being born who she is she can make or break his plans. He charms her into agreeing now, but later on, she does make him suffer.

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    You did a brilliant job of Alphaing up Marco in your revisions!
    Maybe I am stressing too much (who, moi?) over something that can be tweaked in the next draft. This is essentially second draft, after all. I just need to try to pull it together into a cohesive story that vaguely matches my synopsis, and the fine tuning can wait for third draft.

  7. Eileen Says:

    His power = animal magnetism? Or is he just a smooth talker that could convince anyone of anything?

    Now I’m thinking of Neil Caffrey on the new show “White Collar” where Neil is an art thief/forger and the most charming smooth talking, good looking guy EVER.

  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Ooh, thanks for the tip, must check that out! Luk does use his looks and charm as a weapon, though he’s also aware it’s a double edged sword.

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