A sample of what I think about when I can't sleep.
GMC. Goal, motivation, and conflict. Not just ingredients for a good story, this is the story of my writing career. (Okay, so it's not a career---yet.)
My goal may sound a little self indulgent. I hear people say, quite often, "I write for me." Well, I'm about to be politically incorrect. I don't. I write for everyone. I want to write a fast paced story that a reader can't put down. They keep me on their bookshelves and revisit the characters often. The story doesn't have to be on the best sellers list, although that would be nice, I just want relatable characters, with a story to tell. Then I want to quit my job and write full time. Ha!
Besides wanting to quit my job and write full time? Being a published author has always been my dream. To put a story out there and have others enjoy it as much as I do, is my greatest wish. I know there will be those out there who hate my work, but for right now, can I have five minutes in La-La Land?
I have characters that nag the hell out of me. This presents me with a dilemma. I'm one of those people who can write only one story at a time. Not all of my hen-pecking characters belong in the same story, and I have to figure out who fits and who doesn't. I have spent countless hours trying to fit characters in where they are not welcome, just to find out they're in the wrong story.
Sure, I want to love the story, hero, and heroine. I want them to ride off together in the sunset. Then there are times when I just want to slap the crap out of both off them, close my laptop and never look at their story again. But, they always come back to haunt me. "Give us another chance," they whisper. "We'll cooperate." Then I give in. Two maybe three pages later, with a big "tee hee -hee," they stop talking again. It's a vicious cycle.
What's the GMC in your writing career? I'd love to hear from you.
A sample of what I think about when I can't sleep.
My husband and I were in a club last night for a friend's birthday party. About mid-way through the festivities, two young girls strutted through the door. Most male, and some female heads turned their way. They sported black, ruffled, micro-minis that barely covered their butts, thigh high boots, and shirts that looked like a lace bra I got for Christmas one year. After sauntering to the side of the dance floor, one girl bent over and started shaking her butt like a stripper. I don't know what message they were trying to send but if they had 'easy lay' tattooed on their foreheads, it would have been more subtle. To be fair, I don't know if they were easy or not, they could have been very nice girls, but that wasn't the message they were putting out.
So, what does this have to do with writing? I can't tell you how many books I've read where the was no clear message. I think I was supposed to like the heroine, but I wasn't sure. She was mean, conceited, sadistic and never changed. I couldn't figure out why the hero loved her.
I have also written some confusing characters. The heroine was someone you were supposed to care about, feel sympathy for. She came across as weak and pathetic.
How do you make sure the message is clear in your writing? Do you have a formula or do you just put the words down and hope for the best?
So you've decided you want to write a book. You sit down in front of your lap-top and you pound away at the keys. Oh God, you're a genius! The words just pour out of you. The hero is the perfect man. The heroine is the perfect woman. Their story is hot, romantic and compelling. After a few months of blood, sweat, and tears, you type 'The End.'
Your friends and family read it and tell you how good it is. Someone tells you about RWA and you join. You get word of the Golden Heart and enter your masterpiece. As you anxiously await your perfect scores, you join a few writing loops and discover critique groups. You're warned about having a thick skin but you don't need one. Your work is perfect. You send in chapter one, and wait for the shinning admiration of the group.
The first one comes in. The critic hates it. She tells you to throw the whole thing in the garbage and start over. But hey, what does she know? This person doesn't know great work when she sees it. The second critique comes in and it's worse than the first. Then the third, and the fourth. You start seeing phrases you've never heard of. Show, don't tell, head-hopping, passive voice. You go back to your writer's loop and ask about these mysterious phrases, and that's when you get the wind knocked out of your sails. Rules, writing has rules. You go back to your masterpiece and realize you broke all of them on page one.
You attend a few workshops. You learn about the rules, and that some of them can be broken. You want to slap yourself silly when you re-read your first manuscript. Did you really write about your hero's throbbing manhood?
You realize that writing is hard is work. But you still want to do it. You develop the thick skin. You know there's always room for improvement. You even learn to give a few critiques yourself.
Months go by, and you've grown as a writer, but you know you still have a way to go. You know there are no guarantees. You'll get rejections and not every chapter will be great. Humility is your middle name. You are now a writer. Unpubbed, but still a writer. And you will never forget the journey. Especially since your Golden Heart scores just arrived in the mail.