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!

How not to do it December 27, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 1:19 pm
Tags: , ,

Yesterday’s post is a classic example to aspiring romance writers everywhere of how not to do it!

To help further, here is the Janey Jones guaranteed Ten Step Plan for writing a story with a boomerang rejection built-in:

  1. Refuse to let go of a story that isn’t working.
  2. Make the characters as unsympathetic and unbelievable as possible-  for example, a pathetic heroine and a selfish, emotionally immature hero. If you do by chance create some interesting characters, don’t whatever you do let them live and breathe and act for themselves on the page. Ruthlessly edit out every hint of personality.
  3. If you think it’s not working, make it more complicated, add more and more and more external conflict into the mix  (masquerading as internal conflict in your own mind but not in anyone else’s), thinking that’s the answer at last.
  4. Change direction so many times you give yourself whiplash and achieve a state of conplete confusion about what you were trying to write in the first place.
  5. Never, ever, admit that you just don’t have the craft skills yet to pull it off.
  6. Don’t even think about going back to basics like characters, a developing relationship between them, and what internal factors keep them from being together.
  7. Have a strong preconcieved idea of what your target line needs and write rigidly to that. This usually stifles any chance of individuality or voice showing in your writing, and enables you to recognise any that does sneak in, and destroy it.
  8. Overthink and overanalyse everything. Stamp out any random sparks of joy in the process of writing by making it all terribly terribly serious. It has to be done right. No room for playing around or having fun here.
  9. Do not under any circumstances allow any emotion to come through in your writing. This is the place to maintain rigid control.
  10. Spend more time thinking about writing and talking about writing than actually writing.

Follow these easy steps and you too can be a totally crap unpublishable writer, and make yourself miserable about writing while kidding yourself that you are learning and growing!

So what am I going to do about it?

I got myself so muddled there was only one way to decide what to do next- toss a coin!

It’s not quite as random as it sounds, and it works everytime when I tie myself in knots of indecision, because I do nearly always know on some level what I really want to do. I take the two strongest options, and toss a coin to see which one comes up. If my immediate reaction is “Okay!” I know that was the option I wanted anyway. If my immediate reaction is “Let’s try best of three,” I don’t need to go any further, I know I want the other option.

I knew that I already had chosen, but did the coin flip anyway. I’m a belt and braces girl, I like confirmation!

Luk and Emma / Gabi are taking a break. They can whinge and moan about it, but they need to have a long relaxing holiday somewhere warm and a long way away.  That little isalnd off the Melusi coast Luk wants to develop as a resort will be perfect!

 I realised where the wanting to hang on to Luk and Emma thing came from- Christmas reactivated an old grief, and made it harder to let go of my “babies”, even if they were never going to have a chance of survival. All the comments in response to my witterings about them have been copied and pasted and tucked away in their file, as there is some massively helpful stuff there. Thanks for your help everyone who commented!

I’m going back to the story I was originally planning to write for my JanNo, before I tied myself in knots and got myself confused again. Kate and Adam. Straightforward and likeable characters,  with good simple but deep internal conflict, a setting I love. Enough external “stuff”  going on to make it interesting, but not taking the focus off the relationship, rather intensifying the focus on them. I’m just going to write. Basic character sketches, an idea of the premise, and then stop overthinking it all! Let the characters do their thing and see where they take me. When it looks like the conflict isn’t working, instaed of adding something new, I will dig deeper into what they already have.  And I’m giving myself permission to have fun. Permission to enjoy the ride.


7 Responses to “How not to do it”

  1. Maisey Yates Says:

    Glad you’ve found a way forward, Jane. Much love!

  2. Jackie Says:

    Big hugs, Jane. Kate and Adam sound like the perfect way to rediscover the joy of writing again. Yep, have fun!!

  3. Jane Holland Says:

    Mistaken turnings and stories that die on their feet happen to everyone, even established writers. It’s not the sole territory of new writers – just another part of being a writer.

    Always remember that writing romance is fun and you love it! Even these tricky moments. Loving it is what will give you the strength to get your book safely to the HEA or start another if necessary. And as for the rule about admitting you don’t have the craft to write something … well, it seems to me that you can only develop that craft by getting your hands dirty with a difficult manuscript. So keep smiling and enjoy it!

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    That’s the plan Jane! I spent the afternoon getting to know a brand new heroine- fun!

  5. That list could have been about my current endeavour. All your points apply to my WIP, but particularly no.1 (have spent 4 years re-writing in some form or another – although it’s not the story I started out with). And definitely no. 10 (although I’d have to add reading about writing to talking and thinking about writing).


  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    Oh, definitely add that to number ten. I forgot that one. And reading romance because it’s “research”. And writing about writing here and to the crit group. I’m sure I log up ten times as many words doing that as actually writing story. Actually, more like a hundred times, lately, especailly when prewriting stuff is counted in.

  7. Eileen Says:

    I refuse to think about my ratio of blog-words to novel-words. I think I’d be very disappointed in myself.

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