Elaine asked me- “What do I really want to write?” That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it. (Showing my age there- a quiz show back when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire would have been called Who Wants to be a Sixty-four Thousandaire and our house cost the then so hard for my parents to afford sum of $12,000!)
“What did I think I “should” write?” is an easier question to answer. Presents/Modern Heat. So many reasons. I enjoy reading them. I got that Comps Slip from the Instant Seduction contest. My writing buddies were targetting HMB. I posted a couple of excerpts from Luk and Emma’s story to the critique group, and they all agreed that the piece I thought was more Presents was far better than the piece that would have to be cut to make it Presents.
They all said- “Write Harlequin/ Mills and Boon”. That was my biggest influence, I think. I trust their judgement. We’re all pre-published, but a couple of them are veeeeeeery close, and all are good insightful readers. I finished the first draft, and saw I had a mix of elements. I could push it one way in the edits to make it Presents, another way to make it a Sweet romance, and another to make it a single title story aimed at Little Black Dress. I was undecided, though I did know in my heart which way I wanted to go. I looked for outside validation, and posted those excerpts. I didn’t trust my own judgement. Sometimes we do get too close to our own writing to see what’s there
I chose to go Presents/MH, because of the girls’ advice, even though it went against what I really wanted to do. I only just realised what was wrong with that. (I mean besides the obvious- “Write what you love, not what other people tell you to write, you idiot!”)
They gave their advice based solely on the pieces I gave them to read.
The Presents piece was perfectly Presents. It could stay in the completed Presents manuscript as it was, with only the slightest of tweaks. The piece I gave them as an example of my Little Black Dress style, was all wrong, not at all representative of what the finished story would contain. Because I first drafted with Presents in mind, it was a LBD scenario but written in a Presents style. Third person, hero POV, all wrong wrong wrong for what I wanted. The criticisms of that piece were valid. It didn’t work well, and the section in the hero’s POV slowed down the action. Of course it did! It shouldn’t have been there at all.
I am a slow learner sometimes!
This morning, I started rewriting the story in first person heroine POV, with Little Black Dress in mind. It feels good. It feels like coming home. There will still be problems and pitfalls and places where I tear my hair out. But I’ve already had a massive insight into the heroine’s core emotional need. There was yet another layer underneath what I thought was her core need. As I was rewriting a scene I’d already written four times, some more of her thoughts popped out, because I was deeper in her mind. There it was. Her core need! How I missed it before, I don’t know. Even if I go back to writing it third person, that one insight makes the experiment well worthwhile.
It is a strategy I’ll use again, I think, if I’m feeling stuck. Shift POV, and see what comes out.
What do I really want to write? Contemporary romantic fiction, with an element of the fairy tale. Maybe magical realism, maybe real magic, maybe just the magic of amazing unexpected life changes, including falling in love. Possibly a bit wacky, off the wall in places. I feel like I’m taking my first steps into an enchanted forest, without a map.