Monthly Archives: March 2011

Battling Themes Causes Bi-Polar Character

02.19.10

Image by colemama via Flickr

I’ve realized why I’m stuck in my writing this week. After a few weeks of frustrating writer’s block, and having to delete several chapters and revise several scenes, I read at my local writer’s group who gave me another reason to be frustrated. I’m not frustrated with the writers group- not at all. They pointed out another serious flaw that I have to go back and fix. But it gave me the first insight into my much bigger problem that spurned all the others I was fighting.

My theme is all screwed up in my current project. Some days my theme is about my heroine trying to reclaim the life she wanted before her injury. Other days my theme is focused on the anger and frustration in trying to deal with the pain of her injury. And other days is all focused on going after the love of her life. So when I sat back and compared the scenes, my heroine seems strangely bi-polar. Extreme highs and lows in her emotions and behaviors from one day to the next, its hard for me to keep track. I can only imagine what the reader would think.

My writer’s group told me that in the scene I presented, my main character is too nice. She was boring. I needed to *itch her up. And they were right. In that particular scene, she was trying to be too polite and accommodating.  But in the next scene, she was a raging, chemically imbalanced drama queen that sparked from a phone call. And the cycle seems to repeat itself over the next few scenes.

After perusing a few author’s blogs I follow and a several other sites, I narrowed down on my overall issue. I have too many themes and they’re all battling each other. I need to get a handle on which theme I want the most prevalent in the book and write the scenes that way. In fact, its suggested to write my theme on a piece of paper, and tape the paper to my laptop or on my desk while I write. That way I’m constantly reminded of the MAIN THEME throughout my piece. Because the other themes are present in my mind and in the overall situation, they’ll be lingering in the background, but I can’t let those overpower the main theme.

So now my problem is picking the major theme. I posted a poll a week ago on my blog getting other opinions to help narrow down my choice. I appreciate those who’ve participated.  I’d always love more feedback. But I thought I’d keep you all posted on my current WIP (work-in-progress).

Writers: have you struggled with the theme in any of your manuscripts? How did you overcome it?

Readers: have you read any books that seemed to struggle too much between themes? What kinds of themes do you like best to read?

Poll: New Take on Life?

Question I’m dealing with for my new WIP (work-in-progress). I’m bouncing back and forth between themes, and I need some feedback from readers and other writers. Let me know what you think.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Read Your Ways

Husband Waiting Area

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

I read an interesting blog discussion the other day about romance writers who have their spouses read their work-in-progress. Their husbands’ or wives’ willingness to read the love scenes (some erotic) made me laugh out loud. I’m not laughing at them- I commend them for having (and using) that luxury. I wish I had that luxury. Because my husband doesn’t like to read. Not ‘doesn’t like to read my stuff”; but doesn’t like to read, period. At all.

Which made me think: is it ironic that I’m an aspiring romance author, writing up a creative storm every day (or most days), and the very man who inspires much of the love scenes I write doesn’t like to read? I quit my day job so I could write full-time (and take care of our son), and he helps me accomplish this by providing for our family so I can pursue my passion. But he doesn’t want to read my passion. (He’d rather leave it in the bedroom).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making any assumptions about my husband’s unwillingness to read my work. It’s not like I’ve never asked him just thinking he’d prefer not to. That was one blog responder’s story. She never asked because she didn’t think her spouse would be interested.

But I’ve asked my husband. Several times. “Just 1 paragraph, please?” He still refuses. But I can’t blame him. As much as he detests to read, I still laugh when I see him sitting in his office reading a text-book (he’s currently studying for his Masters degree). Which, when he told me he wanted his Masters, I laughed again because I knew how much he hated to read. And Masters is ALL READING. But I still support him 100% and get a kick out of watching him read his textbooks.

But I won’t rag on his unwillingness to read my work too much.  He still helps me come up with perfect zingers and one-liners that fit perfectly to my characters and dialogue. My husband is an expert at off-the-cuff comebacks.

And bottom line, I know he loves me. I know he supports me, and he works hard so I can write full-time. And I thank him every day for giving me this chance. So instead of reading my work to help me, he assists me by being my muse and inspiration for the stories I love to write.

What about you? Does your significant other read your work? Have you even thought to ask them?

Head in the Clouds

Sunset, High Dynamic Range Image

Image via Wikipedia

Update from the Writers Conference fiasco.  The last posting discussed the silver lining of the literary agent willing to hear my pitch via phone, which I had on Saturday this past weekend.

I wasn’t quite on pins and needles like I’m sure I would have been for our in-person pitch session.  Over the phone seems a little less nervous.  But I was still a little anxious.  I knew my pitch, I know the manuscript backwards and forwards, know every little in-and-out of every character and setting.  But I’d never ‘pitched’ to an agent before. So when the call came around 1pm, my son was still napping, which I’m eternally grateful for.  To have a 2-year-old screaming in the background would have been a little mortifying (even if I had to huddle in my closet with my laptop in front of me). Funny picture? Yeah, that would have been me.

The call was fabulous! She had such great questions about my story, about my writing goals, and I loved the feel of the ‘conversation’ during the pitch.  It wasn’t me just talking about the story or myself.  It was a brief pitch of the story, and actual back-and-forth questions about it. Questions about what market I was targeting, other authors I thought it compared to, what her preferences were for the genre, etc. A nice discussion.

And now my head is in the clouds.  She requested the full manuscript. SWEET!!!! My first full MS request.

But, I know I can’t stay in the clouds for too long.  Because I don’t want to be dropped at 20,000ft.  I’d rather be dropped from 100ft. (Or not dropped at all, but always be prepared for every scenario, right?)  But I will say, the clouds are pretty up here!

*Sweet sigh* Back to writing I go!

First Writers Conference Fiasco

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Image by Krista76 via Flickr

My excitement for my first writers conference this past weekend (as I wore my proverbial red slippers) was dashed and I ended up missing the parties, the second half of workshops, and regretfully my pitch appointment.  The catalyst that made me miss the most anticipated event in my writing career for the last 6 months: an evil bottle of antibiotic pills with side effects from purgatory.  Yes, my yellow-brick road to glory, or at least to enlightenment, fell out from underneath me because of PILLS.

I won’t get into any specifics of what the pills were for or the details of the side effects, but they made me a useless human being who could barely stand.  Out of respect for everyone at the conference, I left on Saturday afternoon to wallow in my painful misery.  I hoped the symptoms would subside overnight and I could go back to the DFW Writers Conference and my pitch appointment on Sunday, but I was not so lucky.

However, an unexpected and gracious silver lining emerged from my fiasco.  My critique partner was also at the conference and she passed along the message to the conference organizers that I was sick and had to cancel my appointment.  And from the inner workings of the great Wizard of Oz, the agent whom I waited for months to meet contacted me via Twitter and conveyed her wishes that I feel better soon and hoped to hear from me.  In addition, she’s offered to still hear my pitch via phone, a week after the conference has ended.

This particular agent is now my favorite.  As much as I respected her before and hoped to become one of her precious clients, that’s only increased ten fold.  Whether she likes my pitch or not, she will still be my favorite and I will always hold her in high esteem.  The epitome of a class act if I’ve ever seen one.

The brief amount of time I spent at the conference on Saturday was wonderful! I heard Sandra Brown’s keynote address (she is hilarious by the way- if you ever get to hear her speak, GO!), attended 4 workshops that opened my eyes even wider than they already were, and braved the anticipated, yet dreaded, GONG SHOW!  This was so cool. A panel of 5-6 judges (all agents or editors) sat up front with their own personal oriental gong. The announcer started to read various query letters that attendees submitted.  The judges would ‘gong’ out whenever they would have stopped reading.  When 3 or more judges had ‘gonged’, they would explain why they didn’t care for it, and they’d move on to the next query.

This whole process was freakin’ brutal.  Anyone who submitted a query subjected themselves to a tremendous risk of humiliation.  Thankfully, the queries were kept anonymous, so if you were gonged in the first sentence, no one would have known it was yours.  And these agents were hilariously relentless.  This became next to a standup comedy routine on several.  But one of the great aspects of the Gong Show was how many partials and full manuscript requests came from it.  That part was incredible!

I missed when my query was read. But my critique partner said I was gonged after the third sentence.  Not terrible.  But not great.  I clearly have some work to do on my query.

So, *sigh* I have to wait another year to attend the next writers conference in my area. Medication chucked in the trash, I know better for next year. But it’s hard to handle the frustration I feel of how I missed my first beloved writers conference.  Have you ever missed a writers conference for something as ridiculous as medication side effects?