Posts Tagged ‘first’
Whipping my first manuscript into shape for the Golden Heart contest is turning out to be more work than I thought it’d be.
I thought it’d be easier to do a little editing on Brad and Erin’s story than it would to write another 40,000 words to finish my current WIP.
Ha! Was I wrong. Between Harlequin changing its length requirement (resulting in a 10,000+ word trim) and my unwelcome discovery that my hero is boring, I’m doing as much — if not more — than I’d have had to do to finish the other one.
In fact, my other characters are calling me back to them. Kari and Damien’s story wants to be finished … and soon.
Well, it’s just going to have to wait. I’m going to finish fixing my first baby up for the contest, and then I’ll get back to work on Kari and Damien’s story.
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.