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!

Shiny new story December 28, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 1:27 pm
Tags: ,

The flipping a coin thing to decide what to write next yesterday didn’t work too well. There was another option I didn’t consider- that I would get intrigued by a different story.

Michelle Styles’ question yesterday, to get me thinking about what it was in the Cinderella story I really wanted to write, worked brilliantly. My answer was- I don’t need princesses or billionaires at all. My sort of Cinderella has a run-down boarding house in a seaside town, inhabited by eccentrics, as her palace by the sea.

During the afternoon, in between thinking about Kate and Adam’s story, I kept thinking about this character, what would she be like, what would she want in a partner, who would her worst nightmare as a partner be? A vibrant and fascinating woman, full of contradictions, was coming alive.

I also realised that I have a lot of history with Kate and Adam. There are so many episodes I’ve visualised for this couple, but the old story for them was very much based on external conflict. I want to write their story, and soon, but wouldn’t it be more fun for my JanNo story to start with a new couple, a new story?

I had a lovely time last night getting to know Meg! Though I’m realising this morning that I’ve already fallen into an old trap- overcomplicating things. I’ve given her several sources of conflict, when one good one is enough. With everything else, does she really need to have an abusive ex? Probably not, especially as once I introduce him, like Chekhov’s gun, I’d feel obliged to use him.

Oh my goodness! Thinking about that- I discovered something amazing by digging deeper into the other big relationship block. She defininitely doesn’t need an abusive ex. So out of character. She wouldn’t have even let the guy near her! I’m gobsmacked by what I just found out. This is such a lesson for me. I take facile superficial conflicts, feel they aren’t enough, so I add another contrived superficial conflict. This does NOT work! Not that an abusive ex is a bad conflict, a different character would have had good reason to escape her bad childhood by jumping into the first relationship that came along. It’s just that Meg wouldn’t. And I only threw him in because I was scratching around for more reasons she wouldn’t be open to a relationship with Nick. Digging deeper into what was already there produced something far better.

In the Superromance editors podcast , they talk about avoiding cliches, not just grabbing onto the first idea that comes along but keeping on looking  for other ideas- the fourth or fifth will be the best! Ellen Hartman mentions this too, I can’t remember where now though it may have been in this Q&A on heroes (will come in useful as this afternoon’s job will be getting to know my hero Nick better!). I need to read this again too- Kate Walker’s “Keep it simple, dig deep“.


14 Responses to “Shiny new story”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Great post Jane. I have ‘Keep it simple, dig deep’ engraved in my mind but I often seem to stray from its wisdom!

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Me too! I just keep wanting to add more and more into the mx, and end up with a steaming mess. I’m a slow learner in this department!

  3. Jane Holland Says:

    Best of luck with this. Shiny new stories are what I love best too!

  4. Jackie Says:

    Jane, your idea is sounding better and better. Yep, I’m an over-complicator from way back – so easy to do. KISS principle needs to be engraved on my heart I think. 🙂

  5. Yay – starting a new story is always great fun…getting to know a new heroine, falling in love with a new hero…

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    Oh yes, what a hero! I’m going to have some real fun with this one. He’s a sweetheart and my first real try at a gamma hero.

    Alphas unfortunately have turned out to not be at all my type.

    Hope your stories are going well, Jane , Jackie, and Suzanne!

  7. Eileen Says:

    *squee!* I love the short synopsis you have in the sidebar for Seaside Cinderella! I would buy a book with that blurb. I don’t know why but I love heroines on their home turf (like a B&B they run) 🙂

  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Yes, it’s going to be fun, I hope! Soooo looking forward to starting to write. I don’t want to do any more prewriting as I’ll just over think and over complicate things again! LOL, have already taken out two elements that were going to cause conflict, her nasty ex and a pregnancy. She doesn’t have any ex now, and she may just have a late period that gets her thinking about things. There’s more than enough juicy stuff I can mine without doing my usual trick of throwing more into the pot. But I’m just going to write it and see what happens. Thanks so much for reminding me about JanNo! Which one are you going to write?

  9. Eileen Says:

    I’m writing a dark fantasy. just posted the prologue on the forum. 🙂

  10. waitingforthecall Says:

    Fab! I wasn’t sure if you’d decided to go for that or the tarot sequence. I’m on the train going home now, will look when I am on my laptop and not my super-slow PDA .

  11. Eileen Says:

    Still want to work on the Tarot sequence too … just not as my primary january project. See in 2010 I have school but they eliminated my teaching position SO I’m trying to do everything at once and try to get lots of short stories published and hopefully finish a novel and find an agent. Since I don’t have a RL job I should have no excuse — no excuse and every conceivable reason to try and “make it”

  12. waitingforthecall Says:

    Go for it Eileen! I’ll be cheering you on for sure!

  13. Keep it simple, dig deep is a great reminder, Jane. Putting it on a post it and sticking it on my screen while working on revisions. I’m more of a
    ‘Make it complicated, skim shallow’ type of a writer, which explains lack of publication so far perhaps?!
    All the best for 2010

  14. waitingforthecall Says:

    LOL, Sally, I love “Make it complicated, skim shallow!” That’s been my motto too, I think. A new way of doing things for a new year?

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