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!

Conflict March 21, 2010

Conflict.

One of my biggest problems, I think. Getting enough of it, getting the right sort of it, making it all hang together right to build an emotionally satisfying story.

The main reason I feel I need to leave Third Time for the time being is that I don’t have a solid enough grip on the internal conflict. It’s there, but it’s tricky, because rather than being in direct opposition, their goals and motivations are kind of tangential to each other. And most of Nick’s internal conflict comes from the situation with her, which could make him too passive, as resolving his conflict as things are relies on HER changing, not on HIM changing.

It could be said I am overthinking, just get in and write the thing, but this has been the problem with every story I’ve written. I would quite literally be wasting my time writing their story now. I’d just end up in another tangle of excessive external conflict thrown in to cover up the weak ineffective internal conflict.The key thing could be to be sure that the external issues all tie in together, as do the internal issues. Where I seem to go wrong is to keep throwing in new things instead of digging deeper into what’s already there in the characters and their situation.

I know that for me the solution is to mine for another level of emotion in the characters, rather than create more issues. Michelle Styles wrote it in a comment last time I was stuck-

Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices.

Now this is a big long ramble, I’m trying to work out what all this means!

 The problem with external conflict is that it makes the characters passive puppets. They don’t make decisions proactively, something happens, and then they react. It’s got to be all about the characters making decisions, rather than being pushed and pulled around by external stuff. Otherwise, it’s not emotionally real or satisfying. The story has got to be driven solidly by the character’s deepest needs, which they express by having an external goal. Everything they do in the story will be directed towards either reaching their goal or fulfuling their need.

The goals are always something external,that the character wants, something solid and tangible like a house, or a job, or a business. The motivation is internal, the real reason why they need the goal, always something emotional, like acceptance, belonging, self-worth, control. So though the character makes the decisions they do based on striving for their goal, the driver is their motivation. And the decisions always need to be expressed in action, that moves the story forward.

The conflict comes because the hero and heroine’s issues need to be in direct opposition. Whatver actions she takles to meet her goal triggers his internal issues, and vice versa. So there’s escalating conflict until change occurs, internal emotional change in both characters, that make the lasting relationship possible. While both of them keep doing what they do to reach their goal and fulfil their internal need, holding on to their old way of beliveing and behaving, this couple have no chance of a lasting relationship.

It’s the internal need that is key. Often there’s a shift part way through anyway- they get the goal, but it makes things even worse. Whatever decisions the character makes has to be true to their internal need, the deepest thing in them that they are usually not even aware of. Two people may have an identical goal, but because the reasons they really want and need that thing are different, the actions they take may be different too. Two people may have an identical internal need, but look for very different ways of achieving it.

For example the hero and hero may both have massive self-worth issues because of  lousy childhoods. One seeks to meet that unspoken need by becoming CEO of a multi-million dollar business. The other seeks to meet that need by becoming a doctor working for next to no pay in a clinic in the poorest part of town. They both want the same thing in their hearts, but there’s going to be instant conflict if these two collide, because they’ve chosen such different ways to get there. Every decision these characters make and every action they take will be determined by that internal driving need and the way they’ve chosen to fulfil it. So when the CEO decides he wants the land the clinic is on to build a new development, the doctor is going to fight back tooth and nail. It’s not just the external goal that’s at stake, it’s the very core of who she is, the rock her entire sense of self-worth is based on. And the same for him, he cannot lose the land, because that makes him the pathetic loser his step-dad always told him he was. He might decide to let her keep her clinic, but to be able to do so, he needs to have something else to make him feel he’s in control, he’s won. So if this was Presents, he might agree she can keep the clinic on condition she becomes his mistress for a month. That’s when the internal issues should take over. The action has to be driven by the heroine and hero making decisions, acting on them, and reacting to each other.

Now if I was writing this story I would feel obliged to throw in an earthquake or kidnapping or something to keep the plot moving after that. But this is where the digging deep comes in. If the story seems to be slow, losing momentum, sagging in the middle, it could be that the characters have stopped acting, and are waiting for something to happen, instead of making things happen. In the battle over the land in this example, one will win and one will lose. But they are BOTH losers, either way. He’s lost the chance of a good relationship with the heroine because he’s still stuck in getting his self-worth from being a ruthless money making machine, always in control, always holding the power. He believes emotions and especially love make him weak and pathetic. She’s lost the chance of a good relationship because her sense of self-worth is totally tied up with a life of dedication and giving out to others, not believing she is worth receiving anything back in return, especially love.

They will keep making decisions based on meeting that need, which should make things worse and worse because everything they do triggers the other character’s internal issues even more. Like in this story, she could deal with the issue of having lost control through agreeing to his deal by putting in longer and longer hours at the clinic, which would really hook into the hero’s own control issues. He would respond by becoming even more controlling, and there’s an escalating spiral that culminates in the black moment. The black moment is inevitable, because even though one or both of them may have changed their external goal, what neither has changed is the way they go about getting their internal need met.To find the truest way to meet their deepest need, they both need to change. They both need to realise that the way they have been trying to meet their needs isn’t working, is actually getting in the way of them getting what they really  want. This is the ONLY way these two can ever be happy, and can ever make a future together.

Now I just made that fairly rubbish example up, that’s not the story I’m planning to write!

Already, with a new story that’s only a few pages old, I’m falling into the same old pattern. I want to throw in every possible conflict, but I HAVE to learn to keep it simple. I’m wanting to give my hero some dark painful thing in his past that gives him trust issues, but actually, he does not need it at all. Neither does she, besides what I’ve already given her. No-one has a perfect childhood, we all have some emotional issues. I don’t need to give these characters an OMG awful upbringinging for the story to work.

This was the beartrap I fell into with Meg- not only is she disabled, she has guilt that her parent’s marriage broke up over her health problems as a child, her mother turned to alcohol and abusive relationships, then one of her mother’s boyfriends came on sexually to her when she was sixteen so she ran away from home. That poor girl! I cried when I realised the bit about the sexual abuse- I saw the whole scene and she was sooooo brave and resourceful in how she coped with it! You can see why I am shying away from writing her story just yet, it’s just too much. It could work perfectly, but I don’t have the hero’s conflict solid yet, I can’t see how the two mesh together. It’s possible Nick needs to change, that I haven’t given her the best hero to bring out all her issues. And I can’t get Meg quite right in the present either, she needs to be kind of coltish, skittish, wanting to explore the possibilities of an adult romantic relationship yet terrified too.

Which is why, for now, when the new story jumped into my head I decided to go with it!

But again, I want to overcomplicate. I need to keep the external stuff very simple. Golden girl of Haven Bay, Cady needs to be perfect. She’s almost achieved it.  She has the perfect job, with the twentieth floor office overlooking Sydney Harbour. She has the perfect flat, again with harbour views. She has the perfect housekeeper, so she can work out and keep herself a perfect ten. She has no time for a relationship. That’s okay, she doesn’t want one messing up her perfect life.. She’s the girl who made good. But her seven year old son is acting out, getting in trouble at school, and now her mother is ill and needs looking after. She has to go back to Haven Bay. She has to face Mitch, her childhood sweetheart. The man who believes she two-timed him then dumped him cruelly back when they were uni students together, destroying their dreams of a life together.  She made him think that rather than tell him the truth about the date rape she blames herself for and feels so desperately ashamed of.  No hope of avoiding him. As Mitch is the head and teacher at the small school in the community, he and Cady are going to be thrown together a lot, as he gets involved with her son.

Do I really need to give him any other reason to have trust issues and be wary of trusting her now when she comes home after seven years, isn’t her betraying him so badly in the past enough? And do I need to give her any other reason to feel shame and no self-worth when she blames herself for her rape, and feels a failure over her relationship with her son, the product of the rape? There’s enough emotion there to mine for a thousand page story, let alone a two hundred page one. Maybe they do need underlying reasons that what happened seven years ago affected them so strongly, drove them deeper into dysfunctional choices? But it really was a life destroying event. Maybe Mitch had abandonment issues already, because his Dad had affairs and left his Mum when he was in his early teens; maybe Cady had issues of needing to be perfect because her parents had very high expectations that she would excel, and withdrew their approval if she didn’t measure up. I guess that would make sense. But it doesn’t have to be something really big and really dark in their childhood, like I did with Meg. They just have to have good enough reasons to drive the decisions they made and are still making, to explain the way they behaved in the past and the way they are still choosing to behave now. Cady choosing to keep up her facade of perfection no matter what the cost to herself and others, Mitch choosing not to trust, not to let anyone get inside his shell again.

Now, this may not be quite there yet. They don’t have goals that are in opposition. Her surface goal is to do her duty to her Mum and get back to her life in Sydney ASAP, avoiding contact with Mitch. But her deep goal is to solve her relationship issues with her son Josh, and even deeper under that to resolve her issues with Mitch. Mitch’s surface goal is to help Josh with his behaviour problems. Not only is Josh disrupting his classroom, he feels an instant bond with the kid. It’s just possible Josh could be his son, despite the fact Cady told him she’d slept with another man. He sees the best way to help Josh is by giving him a strong male role model- spending as much time as he can with Josh. His deep goal is to resolve his issue with Cady- he is still angry with her over the way she betrayed him.

I may still not have it right of course, and getting it into my writing is a whole other thing…

 

Progress report March 14, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:21 pm
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I’ve been a baaaaaaad blogger. No posts for three weeks.

Work has been busy (so what’s new!) but the good news is my colleague who was ill so long is back working normal hours, and we’ve worked out a new work schedule that should help everyone manage the workload better. We’ll start the four day work week we hoped to start in January too, so I’ll have a weekday off to write. No excuses then!

I’ve finally finished the rewritten chapter one of the story I pitched in Donna Alward’s pitch contest. Donna has generously offered to still critique it for me. I hope she likes it. I know she will have suggestions for how I can improve it, which I hope I can write well enough to incorporate! Actually, I more or less finished it a while ago, but kept tweaking tweaking tweaking. Eventually I just had to say “No more” and hit send, or I was never going to send it!  Even though what I sent Donna must have been my fifth draft of the chapter,  as soon as I sent it I realised more changes I need to make- ways to deepen the emotion and conflict. Somehow it felt scarier sending my writing to someone I feel I know and like than to sub to an editor. I don’t want someone I feel knows me to see I really can’t write!

Now on with the rest of the story. I was up to chapter 3 or 4 in the first draft before I stopped, knowing big changes needed to be made, and that the fact I’d taken a wrong turn right at the very start was what kept holding me back from writing. I can’t edit what I already have to fit, I may be able to use somes paragraphs, but really, the only way to make it work will be a rewrite. I want to just race through a quick and dirty first draft now. No point polishing as I go, I know too much will change. It may well be that once I finish first draft I realise I’ve still started at a place that’s less effective, and need to start all over again for the third time. If I do, I don’t mind- it’s all learning how to plot and get it right sooner next time, plus I will know my characters’ conflicts inside out by then!

I’m taking Easter week off, giving me eleven days to write in. If I write something  on the story every day now, maybe with a big push then I can get the first draft roughed out. Fingers crossed! Though I need to be so careful with the goals I set myself. I realised how I was setting myself up to fail with writing and feel worse about myself by making unrealistically high goals. I’d decide I was going to write so many words a day and make up charts to fill in my daily word counts and track how I was going against my goal. Lousy idea! If I’m not writing, I feel bad about myself, get depressed, start beating myself up about my writing being no good anyway so why bother, and end up writing even less. Setting high targets was just exacerbating this. Paradoxically, pushing myself to write harder ended up making me less productive, not more.  I set a new writing target this week, hopefully one I can stick to no matter what else is going on in my life. My goal is to write one sentence on the work in progress, every day. Just one. Anything else is a bonus. I’ll report back how that works!

I’m feeling excited today that I have plans for a whole series of stories set in the same small town as Meg and Nick’s story. I know that seems ambitious for an unpublished writer, but there are secondary characters who deserve their own story, then I saw how other ideas for stories I wanted to write would fit in too. Those characters would be right at home in Haven Bay. I need to know this now because it will alter how I create the story world. If I want to include a future story that hinges on the town being hard to get to and easily cut off from the outside world, no point putting it a mile off the highway now!

I also realised what I need to do with a story I wrote for JanNo 2008, that’s been sitting there in first draft waiting all this time to be edited. It won’t be part of the same series, probably won’t even be targeted at Superromance. I have the feeling it might just be a Blaze. The whole time I was writing it I was holding the heroine back sexually, thinking “She can’t do that!”,  and “No, she can’t possibly do that!” Maybe she can, and it ties in perfectly with her core relationship block. So that might be fun to play with once I’ve finished this one and subbed it.

Seems like the only stories I don’t have plans for are the two first drafts for the Presents contests…

 

Stuck, again! February 15, 2010

I’m wanting to write Meg and Nick’s story, the one I pitched to Donna Alward for her pitch contest. I need to get the first chapter done and polished to send off as she’s generously offered to still give me a critique (though I know she’s on a tight deadline this month, so maybe she won’t mind not getting it till next month!). But I’m stuck. Again.

What is it with this story? I love the characters. I love the setting. I love the whole set up. I know how to fix the first chapter. I know I need to rewrite rather than keep tweaking the existing chapter. And I’m just not doing it.

Maybe all my willpower is being used up doing Menopause Makeover  (I lost 2 pounds and even better an inch and a half from my waist in the first week, so that’s going okay). Maybe I’m just being lazy. Maybe I’m having another crisis of confidence. Maybe I know, like my Presents contest entry, I’m yet again making the story too complex and convoluted, creating something I just don’t have the skill to carry off yet.

As Donna said reunion stories are hard to write- so much backstory! Also, I feel maybe I’ve overthought it, planned all the life out of it. I’ve completely lost enthusiasm for it. On some level, it feels like the story has already been told. I feel that I need to let all the thinking I’ve done on this story sit and simmer for a while, before I write it, let all those ideas and plans sink down to a deeper level and hopefully my subconscious can play with it and turn it back into something alive again. When my colleague who’s been off sick all last month is finally back working normal hours, I’m going to take a week  of vacation, and do a personal Book in a Week. Just write this story with no time to stop and think.

 What I would love to do right now is dive in with something different, and just write like crazy. First draft without stopping to think too much and work things out. Let the characters surprise me.

I have two options, the bush nurse story, Fool’s Gold, with Kate and Adam, which would be a Super; or Nellie and Mace’s story, which was originally going to be an Modern Heat. I can see how it could be even better as a Super, because both the hero and heroine’s emotional issues are family based, and the hero just wasn’t working out for MH, which is why I shelved the idea before. I can even see how it can link in to Meg and Nick’s story, as the start is Nellie trying to get out of the city to go to a wedding out in the country, but everything goes wrong. It was going to start in London with the wedding out in the wilds of the Cambridgeshire fens, but no reason it can’t start in Sydney with the wedding in Haven Bay. Though ideas for Kate and Adam are popping up all the time too!

I hope I’m not doing a “Bright Shiny New Story” to run away from just buckling down and writing Meg and Nick! I do genuinely feel I’ll write that story better with a bit of space from all the thinking I’ve done on it.  I just hope that now I will stick with whatever story I decide to write and at least see it through first draft and not let myself be seduced again by either a new story, or one of the ones I left on the shelf for now. My characters do hate being sidelined, waiting their turn, they all want to be the star!

I can’t help feeling I am lacking in Michelle Style’s Four Ds.

 

Nothing too serious… February 11, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:03 am
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I have had a strange week. Ended up in hospital with chest pain and other weird symptoms being investigated for a heart attack on Thursday and Friday (it wasn’t).

Probably just a mixture of lingering chest infection and sinusitis, the Day Job from Hell, and jet lag. It’s definitely been a wake-up call to take better care of myself (that’s a bit of a laugh- as I’ve gone to work all this week despite being signed off sick by my GP) and get healthier. Talk about brand loyalty- I bought a Harlequin diet and health book- Menopause Makeover. It’s helped kick start me, and there’s some good stuff here and on the author’s website, though her ra ra style can get a little wearing, along with her constant references to herself as being fat and flabby and disgusting, when I’m willing to bet at her fattest she wasn’t more than 140 pounds. That’s less than my goal weight!

I spent my writing time this week tweaking Chapter One of Meg and Nick’s story to reflect the plot changes writing the pitch for Donna Alward’s contest showed me, but it’s not quite working. I need to make bigger changes, not just tweaks. I love these characters, and they and their situation will stay the same, but I need to rewrite, not edit, if I’m to write the best story I can. That’s tough – throwing away writing that is good, but just not good enough. Sometimes it’s just got to be done. I’m going to come out with a stronger start that dives straight into the action and has the hero and heroine behaving totally consistently with their characters and motivations.

Anyway, what I really wanted to post was something that cracked me up, emailed by my friend Abbi.  Warning, do not have food or drink in your mouth while reading, unless you want a messy spray incident!

First this blog post from the fabulous Lucy March, AKA Lani Diane Rich. Which took me to the Glittery Hoo Ha, thanks to Jennifer Crusie. Oh my, I would love to be a fraction as funny as those two!

 

The contest pitch and Donna’s reply February 2, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 3:05 am
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I’ll post the pitch I entered for Donna Alward’s Perfect Pitch contest and her reply here, as there were some requests on the contest thread at eHarlequin that the finalists do this.

Remember, as Donna says-

I probably shouldn’t call this contest the Perfect pitch.  No pitch is perfect.  Mine certainly aren’t.  The same way no book is perfect.  I always read through my finished product and see things I should have done to make it stronger.

There is plenty I would change about the pitch, in hindsight. At the time it was the best I could do, and it served it’s purpose, which is to give a sense of the story and make someone (in real life an editor or agent, in this comp Donna) want to read more!

The pitch email-

Dear Donna

Thank you for offering this wonderful opportunity to a lucky writer again! I hope you enjoy my pitch for “Third Time Forever” a story targeted at Harlequin Superromance.
 
Third Time Forever
 
The first time Meg and Nick met they had one magical day together. The second time they met they shared three blissful days…and nights! The third time they meet, can he convince her to make it forever?
 
Meg Reynolds knows that lasting love and happy ever afters are for other women, not her. A painful childhood cut deep. Emotional and physical scars taught her never to let herself need anyone again. She’s made a new “family” – the motley collection of residents she looks after in her rundown boarding house in a small seaside town. She won’t give that up for anyone or anything. So when her haven is threatened by legal action, she reluctantly turns to the last person she wants to accept help from. Nick di Angelo, the man she thought she was safe to have an uncharacteristic fling with, because she’d never see him again.
 
A successful lawyer, voted one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, Nick looks to have everything going for him. Life is good, but he wants more. He’s spent his life meeting his family’s expectations, giving up his own dreams in the process. Now to get what he wants, he’s going to have to risk disappointing them. He’s sure Meg is the one woman for him. But the gap between their worlds is so great. Neither could be truly happy in the other’s. How can he persuade her to take a chance on him, to create their own world and family, where both their dreams can become reality? Especially when helping her save what means the most to her may be the very thing that keeps them apart.
  
Thank you again!
 
Jane Mulberry Jones

Donna’s feedback (just to clarify- I’d already emailed to let her know I might have problems making the deadline and offering to withdraw)-

Jane – I know you’re on a tight timeline this week so I wanted to get back to you about your pitch as I know you’re working on chapter one this week.

You had the intro bit I appreciate with a greeting and title and target line.   I also like your first short paragraph – not a traditional logline, but it piqued my interest, which is the main objective.

My very first comment after reading the pitch was a notation saying “This could be a Romance”.  Part of that has to do with setting, and without seeing your “voice” I can’t say for sure, but this pitch screamed Romance line to me!

I was a little confused where it was set.  The hero is voted one of Sydney ’s most eligible bachelors, but in Meg’s paragraph you just say a small seaside town.  That could have used some clarification.

I thought you had a good set up with the goals in opposition to the romance and having to make a choice – this is standard conflict fare and as long as you go deep enough with your characters can work like a dream.

Now I’m going to make an observation and this might be exactly what you meant when you said you realized you started it in the wrong place….this story should DEFINITELY start with the THIRD time forever and not the temporary relationship they had earlier.  Open right with the action and the crisis point – where she is turning to Nick for help.  The rest is backstory that will feed into your conflict.

The other thing I want to say is you have a shared past story here.  Having been there, done that, fallen into the trap I will offer a caution that the shared past, while adding tension and conflict in the beginning, needs to move aside for a conflict in the PRESENT.  I dealt with this actually in the book I have out right now.

I’m looking forward to seeing your chapter Jane!
 
Try to have a sane week this week.

Donna

Hmm, and reading that again I’m thinking maybe the best place to start my story is where Donna suggests. So many possibilities! All these different branches, all different, but all leading to the same place, the Happy Ever After. To keep going with the tree analogy, any branch can get you to the HEA, but most may not be strong enough to support the weight of a story.

 

How Janey got her groove back January 7, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:10 pm
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I seem to have got my groove back, thank God!

Thanks for the advice and encouragement after my last discouraged post- it all helped.

I simply decided these characters were worth writing about, even if it’s just for me and not ever for publication. Putting the pressure to write well wasn’t helping at all. I was expecting too much from my first draft, and not just letting it be first draft. The only way out was to just write my way out, because it came down to that or giving up. And I’m surely not  ready to give up!

What helped? Using Write or Die in short bursts -500 words in 20 minutes seems to work well for me-  it’s doable and not an offputting impossible seeming target. Engraving “It’s okay to write crap in first draft” on my brain. Putting writing high on my priorities. Remembering that it’s the character’s story, not mine- I need to do let them do their thing, without me getting in their way too much at this stage, and allow them to surprise me. I guess that’s another way of saying- don’t let my critical left brain mess too much with what has to be a creative right brain process. And also another way of saying that the story  has to be about two people falling in love, not about me throwing in yet another plot device.

Word count is creeping up. I’m a little behind the higher target I set to get to 60,000 words before I have to go on a work trip on the 25th, but almost spot on target at 22% if I had the whole month to use. I feel like I’m getting momentum now, and coming into a run of steady progress, before I come unstuck again somewhere in the middle.  

I love these characters! Happy writing, everyone.

 

Enthusiasm- where is it and how do I get some? January 5, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:21 pm
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Today is my first extra week day off under our new four day week regime at the Day Job.

I should be feeling wonderful. I should be diving into this fab opportunity to write. Instead, it’s nearly midday, and I haven’t written a word.  I’m sitting here feeling generally bleah, tired and sorry for myself. Sinusitis, a rotten headache, and it still being minus two degrees outside aren’t helping.

The story feels like total crap and I think I should give up already. Not just on the story, on writing.

Some people really don’t have what it takes. The downside of being in a group with such amazingly talented writers is that I compare myself to them. I see that spark, that something extra in their writing that I know is lacking in mine. I suspect that’s something that no amount of learning the craft will provide.

The crows of doubt whisper seductively,”Why bother? Don’t waste any more time on writing, you’ll never make it.”  (Now there’s an image- seductive crows? I’m seeing them in some sort of burlesque outfit.) My internal cheerleader tells me, “Keep going, you’ll never know if you give up now!” The cheerleader is right, of course. What worries me is, the crows might just be right too.

Okay, it’s just another crisis of confidence, I’ll get over it. I can’t stop writing, really. All that happens is I write less, or I take a break. The need to write always jumps up and bites me again and won’t let go. New characters tempt me to find out what their story is, push me to keep going if I stop. I’m just being my usual Drama Queen self and making a little doubt about this story into a bit global- “Should I stop writing?” thing.

But you know that nagging feeling that you are missing something important? I have it about this story. The characters are so aimless. They don’t really have any goals beyond maintaining the status quo at the start of the story. No burning desires (till they meet each other, of course!)

Nick wants his vineyard someday but is willing to postpone that desire because he knows it will break his parents’ hearts. Meg just wants to keep things steady and safe, and after her awful childhood, that’s a darned good goal.

It all feels a bit too coincidental. Oh look, he has to go to this town for a court case. Oh look, all the other accommodation is booked up so he has to stay at her boarding house. Oh look, bang, he falls in love with her, realises she is the woman who is meant for him.

I know that happens in real life. Actually A and I meeting was exactly that sort of coincidence. I got sent to work in his clinic for just one day, one nurse was off on a course, the other was new, so I was put shadowing him for the day. He wasn’t well and had nearly taken that day off work sick, in which case we would never have met.

I just don’t think it reads convincingly in a story.

Maybe I’m being too critical too soon and I just need to write. Let these characters tell their story, and see where they want to go with it. Worry about things like GMC when it’s time to second draft. (Knew I shouldn’t have looked at all those character charts yesterday!)

I might feel lost, without a compass or a road map, but Meg and Nick know exactly where they are and what they want to happen next! I need to trust these characters to take me where they need to be. Trust that I already know them well enough, and I don’t need to fill in any charts or tick any boxes just yet.

Just write their story, that’s all I have to do.