Reading an article in a recent issue of Romance Writers Report got me thinking about the characters in the story I’ve been editing: Do I know my heroine as well as I know myself?
I sure should, since she’s me … or at least more me than most. Sure, I put a little bit of myself in all my heroines, but Erin is special. She’s the me of 10 years ago: an education reporter at a small-town newspaper (which I was) who’s tired of being alone (ditto) and decides she wants to date one of her coworkers (which I did — desperately) who treats her like a kid sister (which he did, probably thanks to the extra 100 or so pounds I carried back then).
There is where the similarities end, though. For one, Erin’s not overweight (romance heroines rarely are). She also longs to leave her boring small-town life for the bright lights of a big city. Me, I decided the big city wasn’t for me about the same time I realized I didn’t really want to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, uncovering government corruption.
Yes, that’s why I wanted to get into journalism … well, that and the ability to actually make a living with my writing. I wanted to make a name for myself by uncovering a huge scandal. A year of covering cops, courts and city council cured me of that notion. I found government reporting mind-numbingly boring. Give me the features desk any day.
But to get back to my point: Sometimes I wonder if I know Erin well enough. Perhaps one of the reasons I’m having trouble editing this thing is that she’s not memorable or quirky enough. Her goal of uncovering a big scandal at the hero’s school (and using the story as a steppingstone to get a job at a bigger paper) isn’t clear enough.
It also hit me last night that my hero is kind of boring. Brad is, well, a bit of a Boy Scout (which makes it interesting when Erin suspects he might be involved in the big school scandal).
The other guy, Mike (the one Erin thinks she wants to date and who gets his own story — the last of three), is more interesting. Between his seemingly undeserved reputation as the office Romeo and his penchant for consuming mass quantities of snacks, he’s more memorable than Brad.
Uh-oh. I think that means I’m in trouble.
I just might be a little bit of both tonight. In the past two days, I’ve only done the bare minimum: Read through a couple of chapters, trying to edit and polish them yet again.
I also spent some time clearing out my gmail inbox. I’m the editor for the Northern Arizona RWA newsletter, and I belong to the newsletter editor’s loop at Yahoo groups. That means I get a ton of e-mailed articles from other newsletters — all on various aspects of writing.
As I was reading through some of them, trying to decide if I wanted to share them in our newsletter, I found myself trying to apply their advice to my own story.
Avoid using adverbs most of the time. Most of your dialogue tags should be “character said.” Make sure your title is original. Know your characters inside and out. Watch for shifting points of view.
It’s all good — make that great — advice. But when I try to think about all those things (and more!) while I’m going through my manuscript for the hundredth time, I get overwhelmed. I wonder if it’s good enough … if I’m good enough.
Don’t get me wrong: I know this manuscript needs help. It’s the first one I finished, and I’ve learned a lot since writing it. I’ve been fixing it up, but a part of me wonders if it’ll ever be good enough … or if I should just abandon it and move on to one of my many other candidates.
My mind is set, though. It will be my Golden Heart entry this year. Next year is soon enough for my current WIP, which is much, much better from the get-go.
At least that’s my opinion … and right now, mine is the one that counts.
… Or maybe not. Thanks to an impromptu write-in at Starbucks this morning, I had my work done early today. And that left time for not one but two walks before I headed to my day job, which is really more of an afternoon/evening job.
I wish I worked more regular hours, like 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., instead of getting off between midnight and 1 a.m. But someone has to stay up late to get the freshest news in your morning newspaper — and that someone is me.
I used to be a reporter, but decided to move into page design so I’d have more time to write fiction in my off hours. When I was writing all day at work, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was write some more. I figured that the opposite would also be true: If I didn’t spend all day writing, I’d spend more time writing at home.
That worked for a while … but writing fell by the wayside for a while – longer than I want to admit — after the Sept. 11 attacks. I just didn’t feel much like writing “funny” after that.
Thank goodness I got my groove back. And now that I’m requiring myself to do some actual writing work before I start messing around online, I’m making some real progress.
Still, a part of me wonders if I really am good enough … Those who’ve read my stories say they like them, but they’re not the powers that be in the publishing world.
It’s probably the same part that’s holding me back from getting to my goal weight, that piece of me that doesn’t think I’m quite good enough.
Can I kick her a$$?Please? It’s time to put myself out there and risk rejection.
I spent some more time editing my Golden Heart entry today.
The good news is that the pages I plan to submit, including the synopsis, total exactly 55, the required amount.
The bad news? I still think the synopsis is better than the manuscript itself.
There’s more good news, though: I’ve cut the manuscript down to 58,000 words, leaving myself a couple thousand for rewriting. And I still have about six chapters to go through, so maybe I can cut some more.