Photo by h.koppdelaney
An interesting day. I woke up all fired up to finish my synopsis and first chapter for Morgan and Tash’s story to sub to the Harlequin Romance Fast Track (deadline Monday!). I felt okay about the story and how it was coming together. I thought the characters had clear goals and motivations and conflicts and emotional arcs. Then something happened that got me wondering, Then more than wondering, absolutely knowing, that I can’t sub this story without giving it more thought and reworking things. So the Fast Track deadline will pass me by.
I feel bad about missing another deadline (the Spring Fling story back in February was the last one), but I really believe I’m better working on the story some more and subbing it as a partial. No point subbing to the Fast Track and getting a speedy form rejection because I screwed up the basics yet again!
One of my writing buddies shared the most wonderful revise and resubmit email she’d had from Ruth, one of the Entangled Publishing editors, and wanted advice on applying that to her story. There was a lot in there about GMC. Or more, the lack of it. Now of course, it is all there in her story. It’s just not made explicit in the partial. She’s such a fabulous writer I didn’t notice that when I read it (and I’ve read the partial several times, and the full once). Her awesome humour, sizzling sexual tension and snappy dialogue kinda distracted me!
I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing some of the email (edited to remove identifying features!), because the advice in it is sensationally good. Ruth clearly knows her stuff and then some!
Category requires really compressed story-telling, and I’m just not seeing the story coming through clearly in your first three chapters. Your characters also lack focus.
Try to get a strong sense of your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflict into these first three chapters. I know a tiny bit about the hero and heroine’s past wounds, but I don’t know what either character *wants*, nor do I know yet what’s going to keep them apart as the book goes along. The first three chapters of a romance
novel should set up the dominoes for the whole book — they’re like the book in miniature, and all the subsequent chapters just play out the conflict that’s constructed in these chapters. So I’d encourage
you to get more of who the heroine is (via her goals, the reason behind her goals) and who the hero is (via his goals and the motivation behind them) on the page, and make it crystal clear how their goals are going to be
in opposition in this story.
That advice just blew me away. Every time I read it I get more out of it. I’d never ever seen it like that before, that it all has to be there in the partial. From there, it all unfolds and plays out as the book continues, but the key elements must be in place.
It got me thinking not just about my friend’s story but about Goal Motivation and Conflict in general, and then my story. Seeing I don’t have her awesome humour, sizzling sexual tension and snappy dialogue, it’s even more crucial I get this stuff right! Because leaving out the GMC is something I do wrong ALL the time.
So I’m sharing my thoughts just in case they are useful for someone else. And because I blog what I most need to learn!
So GMC is Goal Motivation Conflict. What the editor wants is for the hero and heroine to have very clearly stated goals. They have to both want something that puts them into some sort of opposition. Ideally, this should be stated upfront in chapter one, either in dialogue or thoughts.
The key thing for romance (and what makes it far more complicated in it’s own way to write than say a thriller, or a mystery) is that the two characters goals need to bring them into opposition, so that they each become the external conflict for the other, or at the very least a complicating factor. And on the inner level, each needs to be the only one who will challenge them to make that internal change they need to make. So they are complementary.
On the surface level, they stop the other getting what they want, but on the inner level they are the only key to the other getting what they really need.
Thinking about this has made it very clear to me I need to get a grip on this for my own current story. It’s something I’m really just starting to get a handle on. I read a few articles on GMC, and of course, I have Deborah Dixon’s book , which I need to reread. It’s too long since I read it and very obviously I didn’t “get it”!
So I decided not to try to get anything in for the Fast Track. I need to work out the GMC far far better! It’s almost there with what I have already but not quite.
Also, I still have far too much lead in to my story. What I have is good, but not good enough. I need to get straight into the action. Even if she sees him from across the showground but they don’t meet for a few pages. As always, I’ve started just that bit too early!
I will do some notes on GMC, finish the synopsis, then put it aside to stew for a while so I can work on the Wrong Brother story (not a Wrong Bed any more) which turned into a Medical, for the Harlequin Medical Fast Track. Closing date for this is 7th June, so I might have a chance!
I also want to edit out the 10 or 12k version that is hidden in the 22K novella of the WiP (once I take away all the padding and the external issue that doesn’t really belong there) to submit to Entangled’s Flirt line, but that will have to wait a while.
Next week, I go back to Australia for two weeks, this time with my husband. It’s supposed to be a holiday, but I suspect my parent’s health issues will take precedence! I’ll take the baby laptop with me, and make sure I make time to write as well while I’m there. Then hopefully by the end of June or early July I can drop back to half-time work (and half pay of course!). More time to write, yippee!