Friday, April 24, 2009

I really suck at romance

Okay, the hero and heroine are together, close, sparks fly--uh...well, maybe not too many sparks. I don't want a sex scene in my book, but I do want these two people to experience some definite, very warm interest. My daughter has been playing Taylor Swift's new CD over and over and over and.... The title song, "Fearless" really sums up what I want my couple to experience. So I'm listening as it plays and thinking about what makes people connect and then I think, "Doggone it, Tip (my hero), just kiss the girl!" But a lot has to happen before we get there.

Years ago when I was single (back in the dark ages of the 80s), an older friend asked me, "Why do you young people make it so hard? Don't you think if it was meant to happen, you wouldn't have to work so hard?" But that's REAL life, and this is fiction, and it has to be hard or the story will be over by page 60. She has hangups, he's torn because...well, the reader has to find that out later. At some point, do they have to really dislike each other or is that a cliche? My heroine only dislikes him when she feels betrayed because she finds out he's...well, the reader has to find that out later. How will this resolve? Will her sister stick her nose in? What about her mother and best friend? I want them all in it, stirring the thing up so that it seems impossible for Anna, my heroine to either go for the guy, or get to the truth about what she really wants. And what that is, the reader will have to find out later.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is my heroine messed up because I am?

I've been working on a scene which is the first time the hero and heroine meet up for any length of time. I have based her reaction to him on something I used to go through in college. For some reason I have only sort of figured out, I used to be really rude to extraordinarily good-looking guys. If they flirted with me, my reaction was  really dismissive.  "Yeah, whatever." I always liked ordinary looking guys and even sort of ugly ones. So, drawing on that feeling, my heroine, Anna, is rather stressed about having to deal with Tip, the attractive hero. BTW, I've described him as having a "lived-in" face--not plastic model handsome, so he ought to be approachable by the average female.

If I want to use that feeling for my heroine, I need to figure out why she feels this way and how she overcomes (or doesn't) the tendency to flee any attractive male.  She is not me, so her reason has more to do with her father, whom one of my most precious friends has called "the Adonis of Academia." I told her I was going to steal that phrase and use it in my book. (See my previous post about writers being thieves.) Her relationship with her father is problematic.

But another question for me, because I am who I am, is how much of my heroine is me? How much of myself is being revealed on the pages I blithely hand around at my critique group? My readers may end up knowing me better than I know myself...whether or not my heroine is me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick, hand me a shovel

Sometimes when I listen to writers talk to large groups about their writing processes and publishing experiences, I am acutely aware of the hype involved. I mean, if I am ever speaking somewhere about my book (should I ever get the thing published), I am POSITIVE I would always tell the absolute truth about how hard to write, and how fun it is at the same time. But I think after a while, some writers begin to think the process was always easy for them. I'm sure after the 10th book it is, but.... They make it sound as if it all just "happens" and that makes me feel like a complete failure. "Writers MUST write," they proclaim. And I think, well, sometimes I must do other things besides writing--like parenting my child.

I firmly believe, being a parent of 12 years, that writing and parenting have a lot in common. There are things no one tells you about, and things everyone tells you about. Unfortunately, some of the most important things are the ones you aren't told about, or which are glossed over, or which they couldn't tell you about it they wanted to.

For writers, it seems that no one can really tell you about the process of writing--how many hours a day you'll need, how much energy, how many rewrites, how many letters or conference meetings with agents and publishers it will take. Those things are so individual, and some so serendipitous that only God knows what your process will be. After that 10th book, you may have a better idea.

Both parents and writers face the question of whether what we are doing is the best thing. We grapple with insecurities about the depth of our commitment, and we spend a lot of time in the middle of the night dealing with issues. Well, I say "we" and I mean "I" do.  If I awaken in the night and my thoughts turn to my novel, I start reworking scenes, or creating new ones, or asking myself if I can make the book deeper and more meaningful, instead of just entertaining. As a parent, I ask myself many of the same questions about the way I'm relating to my daughter--am I paying enough attention? Am I giving her enough depth, instead of just entertaining her?

Writing and parenting--two worlds of insecurity. So when someone goes on and on about how the book just "flowed" out of them, maybe you need to pick up a mental shovel.