It’s been an interesting week.
Work has been…challenging. Different challenges this week. After thinking things were resolved and I would stay on long term, something new has blown up now. Unfortunately one of the things I chose to let slide while my collegue was off sick for weeks (something had to give, it just wasn’t possible to do everything she normally did on top of my own work!) ended up being noticed by someone very senior in the pecking order. It may become a matter of jumping before I’m pushed. Disappointing when I’ve worked so hard, but maybe a blessing, because I don’t really want to have to keep working so hard! It could be a good opportunity to look at things again, maybe take a less well paid job that gives me a better balance of time for myself.
I did keep to my goal of writing at least one sentence on the WiP every day. Most days I wrote a bit more, though today’s the only day I’ve written more than a couple of hundred words. Still, slow though the progress has been, they are all words I might not have otherwise had. The big question now is- which WiP?
Donna sent me lovely kind feedback about my first chapter on Monday, with some useful advice for me-
It felt slightly rushed at times, so I think you could afford to do some layering, like when you are talking about when they first met…some physical details along with that like…does she meet his eyes when they talk about it, what do their voices sound like, what do they look like…that will really help keep it in the present. It also needs some anchoring in the beginning. It is okay to set the scene as long as you intersperse it with action and dialogue. It’s really just using deep POV to show us what’s happened. How did it feel to know she was falling? How did it happen? What is wrong with her hip? Hit us with it right from the get go and pull us in.
The other major thing is POV. You have several shifts in this one chapter. At least four. Seriously – you could do this whole chapter in her POV as it is only one scene. Then switch it up for perhaps the next chapter? Whatever bits of introspection you used for Nick, you can feed into another scene. For me, the switches feel disjointed. I think you’d be better off going deeper into her POV and then making the switch.
The changes would not be that difficult to make, my original version actually had the first chapter all in heroine POV, and I changed it in the rewrite to try to drip in more of his backstory. I can see how doing it that way will make the story stronger, hold back some of the things the reader gets to know a little too early in this version. The layering will be harder work but essential to give deoth and realness to the story.
Musing on how to change the chapters, I also realised something key about the hero’s internal conflict. Always a good thing! Then thinking about how to solve one minor practical issue (where he’s going to get another suit to replace the ruined one in time), I was sent off on a track of those people who grew up in the small isolated community but left it. How is it for the ones left behind, how is for the one who comes back when eventually they do? Nick and Meg knew each other before, but they met on holiday. What if someone had good reasons to leave or stay away, and the person left behind assumed the reason was something very different?
I ended up with two completely new story ideas for the series, one that needs to come before Meg and Nick’s, and one that needs to come after it. This is not really bright shiny new story syndrome. I’ve been worried that the current story and especially the issues I’ve given my heroine are beyond my ability to write. Possibly the main problem is- I just don’t have a strong enough sense yet of how the hero and heroine’s internal issues mesh with each other, how they challenge and trigger each other deeply enough to make the necessary changes in themselves. The hero feels too shallow.
The new story idea has much more straightforward conflict, will introduce the town, and develop my skills enough to deal with the more complex issues between Nick and Meg. A trainer wheels story, that’s what I need. I think I have it, maybe. In some ways though, as I write this I realise I do still have some of the same problems with this story as I do with Third Time Forever. The characters are very strong and real in my mind, and I like them both a lot. The heroine’s issues are all there already. I have a surface layer for the hero, but there needs to be something more underneath it. Very much the same as the other story! I feel he may have good reason to have trust issues, which the heroine’s past behaviour hooked into big time. The main thing is- she has to stay sympathetic, yet have behaved badly enough to him that he didn’t try to contact her, or get her to come back. I have a pretty good idea what she did, and hopefully her reasons will make sense to the reader. He’s very much a Beta hero.
So now I have two WiPs! I’m working on whichever one I have ideas and enthusiasm for at the time. I’m not sure if doing it this way will work or not- probably to really get somewhere with it I’ll need to commit to one ahead of the other. But right now, it’s fun.