Over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, my writing blog home away from home, I read a fantastic post the other day. It was all about what editors want from a category romance.
After reading it, I wonder if Brad and Erin’s story is as ready as I thought. I break nearly all of the guidelines:
- Stir internal conflict on EVERY page.
- Minimize secondary characters.
- Let your main characters be active.
- Get them together.
- Keep them together.
- Give them reasons to love each other.
Hmm. I already know the story is a little thin on conflict. For the first several chapters, the main one is Erin thinks she wants Mike to notice her but she’s starting to like Brad, too.
My secondary characters, including Mike, all play what may be too large a role. Not surprising, considering they each have their own story. Brad and Erin’s is the first in a series.
Are they active? I don’t even know how to start thinking about that. That means the answer is probably a big, fat “NO.”
As for getting them together, Brad and Erin don’t have a scene together until page 12 — and that’s after Erin has her first scene with Mike. And keeping them together? Well, they go out on several dates (including an ill-fated trip to Chicago for a concert), but there are plenty of scenes in between with one or the other talking to someone else.
Do I give them reasons to love one another? Well, they’re both good people, and fine upstanding citizens of these United States. And it goes without saying that they’re beautiful (most heroes and heroines are, after all). He likes her sense of humor and honesty; she’s attracted to his body and soul.
Hmm. That may also be a little on the thin side. I’m beginning to wonder if this book will ever sell without yet another overhaul … Ugh. That’s a horrible thought, not least of all because I’m way too invested in these characters. Of all my characters, Erin is most like me (education reporter with no luck in love — all me when I wrote the thing).
On the plus side, I thought of a way to make Meg & Matt’s story, “Beauty and the Ballplayer” more closely adhere to the guidelines I just discovered. I’m going to lop off the first several pages (which I’ve decided are all backstory, despite the fact that I love the first line:
Meg looked at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she misinterpreted it.
The rest of the first few pages have her thinking about how, at 32, she’s too old to be pregnant and alone, and about how her ex ran off to Vegas to become a professional poker player.
I think I’ll start with her and Matt meeting at the bar instead.
I’ve been trying to catch up on my blog reading, and found Nathan Bransford’s great post on “voice.”
The post and the comments afterward are full of great stuff … but all of it combines to make me wonder if I have a developed “voice.” I’ve always thought I did, but I just might be wrong.
Interesting thought, I guess. Too bad I don’t have time to explore it right now. It’s time to get ready for the “day job” (really an afternoon/evening job).
I was out on a walk Saturday morning, listening to my iPod, when a song by my favorite band came on and it hit me: This could be Mike James’ theme song.
Mike, you might remember, is the hero in Bree & Mike’s story (the one with the crappy title). He’s the one who wants everyone to think he’s a playboy so he can avoid romantic entanglements with nice girls like my heroine … the one who doesn’t think he deserves a nice girl to love and love him.
The song that seemed to fit him to a T is Depeche Mode’s “Wrong.”
I reached the wrong ends by the wrong means
It was the wrong plan
In the wrong hands
The wrong theory for the wrong man
The wrong eyes on the wrong prize
The wrong questions with the wrong replies …
I was marching to the wrong drum
With the wrong scum
Pissing out the wrong energy
Using all the wrong lines
And the wrong signs
With the wrong intensity
When it comes to Mike, all true. Well, he does say the right things (at least the right things for an outrageous flirt), but for the wrong reasons.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Depeche Mode has been my favorite group since high school, and I often find ways to apply their lyrics to life. In college, I quoted “New Dress” (about how changing a vote can change the world) in some political science paper.
Now I’m wondering if this makes Mike more of an anti-hero. Oh, he’s definitely not as dark as Gareth, the alcoholic since age 14 who’s trying to escape his abusive father by taking refuge with my almost-as-messed-up heroine.
But Mike at least fancies himself a “bad boy,” courtesy of his past.
I love this story. I hope I can find someone who likes it as much as I do.
Sadly, not much writing has happened since Wednesday (and that writing didn’t count toward my Word Count Countdown, because it wasn’t actually writing on any of my WIPs).
I’m at a certain point: Finished MS but no query or synopsis — and since our NARWA meeting next Saturday is on the dreaded synopsis, I’m kind of trying to hold out before working on one of those.
The query and synopsis on “Blind Date Bride” are mostly finished, but I’m still a little scared to send that one out there. I did get a rave review from one of my NARWA sisters, who described it as “delicious.”
With a review like that, why am I not sure? It’s probably plain old fear of rejection — again. I’ve already gotten tons of rejections on Brad & Erin’s story, so why would I expect this one to do better?
Well, it was written much later. Brad & Erin’s MS was my first, and even though I’ve edited it so much that parts hardly resemble the original draft, it could be that it’s just not good enough. Pat said she can tell a huge difference between that one and “Blind Date Bride,” that my writing has grown and changed.
So maybe it’s time to bite the bullet, finish the query/synopsis and send it out there. It’ll immediately expand my agent pool, since this one’s a single title instead of category.