Today, I’m feeling like I will never crack this writing lark.
Doesn’t mean I am giving up, just that it’s bloody hard going some days. I love reading romance, but every time I read a good one, I just can’t help the comparisons. I made the even worse mistake of reading one suggested by one of my CPs, with some similarities in the theme and set up with the story I’m writing.
The story is Nikki Logan’s Their Newborn Gift, one of the free Mills and Boon ebooks on their Everyone’s Reading site.
It’s excellent. And very sensual for a Sweet Romance. No sex, but the sensual awareness between them sizzles!
It’s also depressing the frick out of me. The basic premise is similar to mine, the heroine has to find the hero, father of the child he doesn’t know about, to help the child’s serious health problems. And she’s done it so much better!
Of course she has, she’s an experienced, multi-published author, and I’m, well, not. But she’s done it not just a little bit, don’t-worry-Autumn-you’re-nearly-there better. A helluva lot better. She’s wrung so much emotion out of the situation, and these two people who are so right for each other but can’t see it. I honestly can’t imagine I will ever write that well.
Maybe I really just don’t have what it takes, the natural talent, the voice. Maybe determination and sticking with it won’t be enough.
I can’t let myself believe that, or I’d have to give up now. Keeping on going, reflecting on what I’m writing, working to keep improving- it’s got to be enough. Shirley Jump, who now writes an amazing eight books a year, took ten manuscripts and eight years of solid writing to get published in fiction.
That’s kinda reassuring. She writes like a dream.
So I have a better plan than giving up. I’m going to reread some of these books I love. Very slowly. Very analytically.
What made Nikki’s story so good? How did she infuse their interactions with so much sexual tension and heart deep emotion, simultaneously. How did she make the heroine and heroine not simply realising they loved each other and getting together about half way through the story work and not just seem Too Stupid To Live like my characters? How does she put in so much lush description without slowing down the pacing?
That might help.
Actually, I just found this on Nikki’s website-
Plagiarising technique – a great learning tool
Some new writers live in fear of unconsciously plagiarising content or mimicking someone elses style and avoid reading as some kind of safety net.
If you want to get published you should be reading recent, quality works in your genre specifically so you CAN pull them apart to see what makes them so good. You don’t want to adopt plots characters or text, of course, but you do want to adopt good technique. Having said that… if you pitch a work with some terribly obvious, high profile trademark technique in it… that’s gonna get noticed and not in a good way. Everything in moderation.
So maybe instead of doing another writing workshop next month, I’ll do my own workshop, analysing a good published story a week. As well as keeping on writing.
Right now, what I’m doing for my story is cutting out a whole load of backstory infodump in the first chapter. My Prologue (I know, they are the Kiss of Death, but this story seems to need one!) has gone from two pages to eighty-eight words.
I’m also wondering if another plot device that’s part of what keeps them apart can be cut. Seems like I cut one out last week, but I’m realising today that I didn’t completely excise it. remnants of the same thing are still there, in the shape of the misunderstanding that split them up ten years before. All I did was remove the real event that lay behind it in the original version. Took out the date rape from the first draft, changed it to the same creep of a guy simply spreading rumours that she had sex with him. The hero, the town’s bad boy, was too insecure and prickly to doubt it, the heroine, the town’s golden girl, was too proud and too upset that the hero could believe it to deny it. And they still are the same emotionally, ten years later, even though their roles are reversed.
But it seems unnecessary to keep the misunderstanding. If only they’d drop their bloody pride for a minute and talk about it, it could be cleared up. Except they won’t drop their protective facades. Not that far. But it can’t be the misunderstanding that’s the true relationship block, it’s the misplaced pride, the lack of trust, the basic belief that no-one would ever love them that really keeps them apart. Those roles and beliefs they were given in childhood that they haven’t shaken off yet. So, is the misunderstanding needed at all? Can I get to the bones of what their issues are without having a silly thing like that between them? Or is that a way in, shorthand to symbolise all their deeper issues.
I’m not sure!
I do need to work this out soon, because Chapter One is full of allusions to it.