Posts Tagged ‘advice’
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 recently discovered the blog of Nathan Bransford — Literary Agent. He’s both witty and wise … and rumor has it that he responds almost immediately to queries, whether he wants to see more or not. I’ve yet to test that myself because I haven’t quite perfected my query for “Blind Date Bride” and he doesn’t do category romance.
Anyway, after reading his latest entry, “The Greatest Strength of a Writer: Willpower,” I was inspired.
The last line, in particular, spoke to me:
If writing is always fun, you may be doing it wrong.
So simple, yet so true. For years, I’ve been one of those “I write when the muse inspires me” people. As a result, I haven’t gotten much done. Several partial MSs lurk in my computer files — all about half finished.
Now that I’ve committed to writing more regularly, first preparing my Golden Heart entry, then in the NaNoWrimo and now through our NARWA Word Count Club, I’m accomplishing a lot more.
- I entered a revised version of my very first MS (Operation Snag Mike Brad” in the Golden Heart, didn’t final and just found out my scores were solidly mediocre.
- I wrote about 25K of the 40K I wanted to get done during the NaNo, finishing the complete MS in early December. I’ve done some revisions and just shipped off the first 55 pages to the Orange Rose contest. (Blind Date Bride)
- I finished the first draft of another category-length MS. (Beauty and the Ballplayer)
- I’m almost done revising and expanding the second story in my “Women of Willow’s Grove” series. It was about 10K too short for category romance … now it’s just about right. (It’s tentatively titled “Daring to Love,” but I’m thinking it needs a new title.) Next up: fixing all the head-hopping in the third book in the series, “To Catch a Wife,” and expanding it. (It’s also about 10K too short for category.)
- I’ve started querying on my GH entry (receiving about 5 e-rejections in response to my e-queries). I also just finished a query and synopsis for “Blind Date Bride,” but haven’t started querying yet because I’m not sure it’s ready.
Whew! That’s a lot of work in the last seven or so months. And I owe it all to commitment. Sometimes I even sit down to write when I’d rather be doing something else.
OK, that’s rare. These days, I don’t want to do anything else. Our NARWA guest speaker back in January, Jennifer Ashley, lit a motivational fire under my behind when she said, “Treat writing like your day job and it will become your day job.” (You can read my post-meeting blog post here.)
Tomorrow is a day off from work. I’m planning to get in some more quality writing time … after I sneak in a workout. I’ve been neglecting my health/fitness goals lately and need to get back on track.
That whole “butt in chair” thing works in a healthy lifestyle, too — except it might better be phrased as “feet on pavement” or “butt in gym.” The point is, you have to do it regularly to get good results.
It’s time to ask my writer friends for some advice: I need to find a way to strike a balance between writing and life.
I’ve written about this on my other blog, but not here. It seems that when I’m focusing on my writing, everything else falls by the wayside — especially diet and exercise.
I wake up and want to get right down to business. I’d rather write than cook. Forget moving — I’d rather plant my butt in a chair all day, reading, writing, researching (and, yes) playing online.
So my question to you all: How do you balance your writing with everything else you want to/have to do?
Again, I went to my NARWA meeting … and again I was inspired by a great speaker. Jennifer Ashley talked about how to finish that manuscript and get it published. And as usual, I had to come back to Flagstaff and head straight to work when I wanted to go home and write.
Agents and the business of writing were on the table, but the most important take-home point for me was this:
Treat writing like it’s your day job and it will become your day job.
It sounds like such a simple concept … yet I’ve been guilty of writing only when “I feel like it” or when I’m inspired.
What I need to do is get in the habit of writing every day, whether I feel like it or not.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, discipline is a big problem in other areas of my life, too. I’m trying to lose weight, but I don’t always stick to my Weight Watchers plan — I do it when I feel like it. (That’s probably why I’m having trouble taking off the last few, eh?) … All too often, I feel like eating something I shouldn’t, like gooey, cheesy Italian or Mexican food.
But that’s another blog! 😀
Now, let’s get back to the subject at hand: writing. For the next week, I’m going to try something different. Every day, I’m going to spend at least an hour writing — preferably before I do anything else. (That includes hopping online, one of my biggest distractions. Darn that Bejeweled on Facebook! I pull up the screen to play one game and end up playing for an hour …)
I’m also going to finally finish my query letter for “Operation Snag Mike Brad” and start looking for the agent of my dreams. I got some great feedback from out chapter president and will be using it to polish up my query.
It’s time for me to make writing my day job.
I’ll be logging in nightly to report how many minutes I spent writing, so please keep checking in to keep me honest.