Put yourself into a mind space as if nothing has been written so far and you just had the idea yesterday. Know that your idea, the Universe, and the screenplay owe nothing to you. Arguably, you owe the Universe for the idea the best execution that you can bring to it, and it’s out there in some form, and all you can do is your best to find it. You have to be willing to throw away everything to do that, as if you are hacking away at a block of marble creating Michelangelo’s David.
You only need to dedicate yourself to the best possible version of the idea. You’re going to think that’s what you’ve already written. You have to challenge that preconception and dig down into the actual idea and ask, ‘Have I both delivered and over-delivered on the promises of this idea?’
As a writer you’re told to outline thoroughly, then put the outline away and be prepared for inspiration to come as you’re writing the script. You should treat not just your outline but your first draft this way as well, and indeed any subsequent draft the same way.
Photo by timsnell
I’m exhausted, and I’ve done no writing today. Lots of thinking.
I worked in the shed all day today. Doing work I hadn’t planned on, caulking all the gaps between every single board, between the walls and the floor and the walls and the roof, down the corners where the wall panels meet, and that 10mm (3/8″) gap under the windows the wind howled through. It took three tubes of gap filler! Worth it, I think, even though time-consuming. It should make a big difference to how weatherproof the shed is. I didn’t take any photos as there are only so many photos of an empty shed anyone will want to see. Just imagine three huge tubes worth of white lines across the last photo!
I’ll be back at the Day Job tomorrow, but Thursday I can start putting up the foam insulation panels.
And hopefully start work on the rewrite of the Christmas story.
I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m glad I left it a few more days to start. I need that extra distance. before I change anything.
Though I’ve made a big decision. I’m going for an idea I had early on in the development phase of the story, and was strongly tempted by but ultimately rejected as less suited for the particular Call for Submissions I wrote the story for. I’m making the hero and heroine much older. Late fifties or even early sixties instead of twenties.
It works far better for me that way. I just like it. I think it will add more poignancy, too.
It will mean more of a total rewrite. It also means it won’t really be a category type romance any more. It will be a feel-good Christmas story that also happens to be a love story with a happy ever after. So I’ve pondered the differences between single title and category romance.
How to know- this idea is category, this idea is single title? What’s the dividing line between category-style romance, an ST romance, and an ST with strong romantic elements? How does the writer’s mindset need to change when approaching the story?
I’m guessing it’s the tropes, the focus on the relationship, the need for secondary characters, just how big a canvas the story needs to be told the way the calls for. Discussion with my CPs suggest that ST can get away with more humour, less of a black moment. Many of the romantic ST’s I’ve read have been fairly light and fluffy, a kind of grey moment and not the real black BM needed for category. More feel-goodish. But there still needs to be some sort of ”all is lost” moment, or there’s no story. The sh*t hits the fan moment (the nursing meaning of BM!).
So, I’ll be writing the story as a single title, with older protagonist. It will be unsaleable, of course, but at least it will be unsaleable as the story I wanted to write, not the story I thought I ought to write!
A lesson I need to learn.
Still waiting to do the post on my CP’s wonderful debut. Launch is delayed a couple of days. My next post… fingers crossed.
Oh, and the photo has no relevance at all to the post! I couldn’t find one I liked that did, and I love this one.
And so it begins!
Mills and Boon New Voices 2011 officially starts today. Another hopeful romance writer will go from wannabe to doing it- getting her story published with the biggest women’s fiction publisher in the world.
The writers who’ve been ready to go for days or weeks are already biting their nails about comments and rose ratings, with eighteen entries already up. This will end up being hundreds before the contest ends. I haven’t read any yet but I’m looking forward to it! As always, it will be a mix of good and not so good, with a sprinkling of “What planet is she on?”, and a few “OMG, this is fabulous, wish I could write like that!”
I love the game of “Guess the winner”, too. Of course, we get to have a say in that too when the voting round opens.
But I don’t want to start reading entries just yet, not until I’ve entered my chapter. There will be plenty of slower off the mark writers like me, consoling ourselves with the knowledge that closing date isn’t until 10th October. Maybe there’s still time to pull that chapter together?
And if you don’t want to enter at all, just read, as well as all the fun of the first chapters, there are two free full-length ebooks available on the site. They’re by the fabulous Heidi Rice, who’s being a mentor for one of the finalists again this year. One I already have, but the other I don’t yet. Yippee!
So, back to the contest! I’d planned all year to enter a particular story, then found the contest rules prevented that. Back to the drawing board, and I’m glad. In one of those Plan-B-that’s-really-an-old-Plan-A twists, the story I hope to enter is another in the Haven Bay series.
Now, this will get hopelessly convoluted and make no sense at all, but it’s the first Haven Bay story I started, early last year. I finalled in the lovely Donna Alward’s eharlequin pitch contest with this story, and she gave me a thoughtful critique of chapter 1. But I stopped writing around chapter 6. I didn’t have any strong sense of the character conflict, wasn’t sure if everything I’d written was really backstory and the story should start in chapter 7 or 8! I moved on to the next Haven Bay story, Cady and Lock’s story. As I wrote that, I saw what the overarching series arc could be, an ongoing background story that threads through the series. Cady’s story came first, then Meg’s, then Zanna’s, then Lucy’s…
Well, Cady and Lock were rejected, for good reason. But could I enter the second story in a series into a contest like this? Stretching my imagination as far as it will go, what if I got picked? What if Meg and Nick got published first? Where did that leave Cady and Lock?
The answer is, back where they started right at the very beginning, second in the series, or maybe even third, after Zanna. I’m so excited now about going back to Nick and Meg! I figured out how that story arc can still work, it’s not a big deal anyway, just a background thing going on in the town that involves the characters.
I have new insight into their GMC, that will hopefully strengthen the story dramatically. I have (for once, hallelujah) a focus on internal conflict instead of external events.
I’m going back to the very first version, quite different to the revised version I sent to Donna. Two problems with that chapter. One, I was trying to write in a style that didn’t suit me, a sexier SuperRomance like an author I adore, Karina Bliss. My natural style, I’ve come to realise, is a sweeter one. The other problem, one I did with my rewritten Cady and Lock too, is take too much to heart the advice about starting right in the middle of the action. I had things happening to a character the reader didn’t know and couldn’t empathise with. My first version had five pages of not very much happening before the action, which is of course too far the other way, but better than the rewrite. Somewhere in between is the start that will work for my story. I need to find a way into the story that will hook the reader and pull her in, but also tell her who this person is these things are happening to!
So this is my job for the next four weeks, less if I can manage it. Rewrite chapter one of Meg and Nick’s story so it shows who these two are, what their needs are, what their goals are, what the things are that will pull them together, what the things are that will push them apart.
I’m a better writer now than I was eighteen months ago. I hope I can do it. If not, I’ll have fun trying, and you can laugh at my efforts when I enter the chapter in New Voices. As long as my chapter doesn’t fall into the “What planet is she on?” category, I’ll be happy!
So, what about you? Are you entering, reading, or not sure yet?