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!

Bright shiny new story syndrome November 28, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:06 am
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afrika32 Image source


I’ve fallen a victim to the BSNS Syndrome- the siren lure of the Bright Shiny New Story.

I feel like a drug addict trying to come up with excuses for my next fix. The truth is, I just can’t feel excited about what I’ve been trying to work on.

That’s the problem, I don’t want a story I have to work on, I want a story I can play with, have fun with, enjoy writing, not feel like “This is a chore but it’s got to be done” every time I sit down to write. Is that a realistic expectation? I know that not many stories would ever get finished if the writer didn’t keep going when the going got tough. I don’t want to be a serial starter, never getting anything finished.

Though that’s a damn good strategy for a writer with a massive fear of rejection. Just keep moving from unfinished story to unfinished story. Nothing ever gets submitted because nothing is ever finished, so nothing can get rejected. NIce and safe and comfortable. The no-risk method of feeling like I’m doing something to achive my dreams, without ever actually having to put myself out there. So I tell myself I have to stick with the Work in Progress, keep slogging on.

But the problem is, I’m so bored bored bored with the WiP, I feel like I will scream if I have to add another word to it. I didn’t choose this story because I loved the story and wanted to write about the characters. I chose it for all the wrong reasons, because I though it was the best fit for Modern Heat of the stories I had in mind and I wanted to enter the Feel the Heat contest. And it was the idea that appealed the most to my writing buddies who are also aiming at MH.

But it wasn’t the story I most wanted to write. The story I most wanted to write was this crazy mixed up thing set in an imaginary Eastern European country with a kidnapping and a forced marriage and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Which I rejected because I thought “No, that’s too weird and wonderful for Mills and Boon. They won’t buy that.” So I settled for the safe boring story set in London with the usual billionaire hero and I’m bored bored bored and can’t write a word of it becauase it’s not really my story, it’s the story I think I should (horrible word!) be writing.

The story I want to write now is even more far fetched than the original idea I dismissed as too off the wall, though it does include a lot of the same ideas. And it feels like a story I could havea lot of fun writing. It feels like characters I could love. It feels like even if it gets an immediate big fat R from the editors in Richmond I won’t care because the story will have been the point of it all. It feels like a Good Thing.

So I’m going for it.

If I am whinging in a couple of weeks about being bored with the new story too, the people who said I should have stuck to the WiP have full permission to say “I told you so.”

But if I am still loving the story and the characters and powering on with my word count maybe, just maybe, I can silently whisper to myself “Yes, oh yes!”


Fear of starting April 23, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:53 pm
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It’s an interesting balance between doing enough pre-writing to have a solid idea of the characters and what might happen to them, and using it as an excuse to avoid diving in and writing the story.
I’m not sure how much to do now. How much time to spend in prewritng, and when to just start writing? I probably do have enough plot and character development done that I can start a first draft, I know basically who my people are, and I have a bit of an idea of what they are going to do. I don’t want to jump in then get stuck because of things that don’t work and won’t work, but I don’t want the paralysis of overplanning, of procrastination, of never knowing when I have enough to start. It was worrying on one level but very reassurung on another to read the writer who said that she did eight drafts now, as an experienced writer, and that her first sold story took twenty one! Worrying because of the amount of time and work involved, but reassuring because in that many rewrites, pretty much any problem can be fixed, and if a multi-published writer needs that many, I’m not failing because I don’t get it right on the first or second draft. Permission to write a crappy first draft activated!

That writer who admits to twenty one glorious drafts is Melissa James, a fabulous Australian author who writes for Silhouette Intimate Moments. She has some great articles for writers on her website. This one on flow challenged me to think about my story’s theme, and where the key turning points are for my characters- the answers surprised me. The articles on Emotional Depth are also brilliant- I will definitely print them out and have them by my side when I get to the editing stage!

I wonder if I am delaying getting seriously into writing the new story until my copy of the second edition of Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance . So many recently published romance writers credit this book with helping them get there, and I want to read it first before I make too many mistakes!

I’m filling in the time well, reading romances! I’m currently loving Annie West’s “A Mistress for the Taking”. I think this was her first published story, and one of the pieces of advice Melissa James gave was to read recently published first books (this wasn’t all that recent- 2006), as they give unpublished writers more of an idea of what editors are looking for in new writers. So I can tell my husband- I’m not just reading, it’s crucial research , far more important than anything else. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!