Word Count Check In

The novella has 20,053 words. It’s gotten to a very sad place and it distresses me. But I love my characters and I need them to achieve happily ever after.

I also started writing the novel of the sticky scene, and it has 3,301 words. And I absolutely love it. It’s such frisky fun and I’m resisting my normal impulse to get the hero/heroine together too quickly. I don’t think I can stand to break these two up, so it’s more of the will they/won’t they plot. We’ll see how it goes.

Plus, I finished my dissertation introduction and I worked on revisions on dissertation chapters and Together is Enough. It was a very successful writing week.


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

One of the most difficult things for me as a romance reader and writer is that the hero and the heroine spend most of their time not together. Yes, I know that books need conflict otherwise, where would the fun be? If the central characters realized they were perfect for one another on page 1 and faced absolutely no opposition or division, there’s no way to get to page 250 without the book being deadly dull. But when you love your characters deeply and want them to be together, it’s hard to deal with the plot’s need for separation.

Within the master romance plots, I feel like there are two basic arcs. Either the hero and heroine get together early in the book but break-up/are separated/face some sort of external conflict/etc. or they resist getting together until the end of the book.

I didn’t realize it until now, but my recently completed manuscript, my current work-in-progress, and at least 2 of the books that I have sketched out in my head are the former. One of these days, I need to write the latter, if only for variety’s sake.

I’m up to 20,000 words on the novella, which I think is between half-way and two-thirds of the way through the manuscript. But now, having achieved what I find to be an emotionally satisfying reunion of former lovers, I’ve had to separate them. I know that it’s necessary and that the separation will help them work through their final emotional issue and truly reach happily ever after. But it honestly makes me sad to write. It makes me want to start working on another story where I can write the more fun “will we or won’t we,” thrill of the chase-type stuff.

How do you deal with conflict and separation in your writing? Do you love the angst? Do you run away screaming in horror?

Word Count Check-In

My novella’s up to 14,231 words and I hope to write this evening. I only penned 5 dissertation pages this week, but I worked fairly extensively on revisions for Together is Enough, which I hadn’t planned for. I’m going to go ahead and call that a successful writing week.

Next week will be all about the dissertation, but I’d like to get the novella over 20,000 words.

I’ll get a full review up at some point in the future, but I wanted to draw the attention of my readers to Kimberly Truesdale’s new novel, My Dear Sophy, a beautifully realized prequel to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was fortunate enough to read an early draft and I can assure you that it’s delightful and squee-worthy. You should just go buy it now.

Happy writing!

Soundtrack for Writing

I was working on revisions last night and it wasn’t going well. In part, I’m not used to organizing my utterly unstructured scenes into something like the W plot. But eventually, I determined that it was also that I had A Capitol Fourth on the background. It was the wrong music. It was not the manuscript’s soundtrack. I couldn’t think my story to John Philip Sousa.

Do you use music for writing? Do you have a certain genre that inspires you? Do you have songs for certain characters or types of scenes?

For your listening pleasure, I’ve embedded the key songs that I associate with Together Is Enough after the break.

Continue reading “Soundtrack for Writing”

Final, Final, Final

I’m shocked and astonished and overwhelmed to share with you that my contemporary, Together is Enough, is a 2012 Golden Claddagh finalist! You can read about the entire thing here if you want.

I couldn’t have been more surprised to get the email. But I’ve discovered that this is where the real work begins. My first-round judges gave such generous, insightful, and constructive comments. They taught me so much about this manuscript and the writing process in general. I feel like a lifetime of reading fiction was surprisingly poor preparation for writing it. I have so much to learn that it’s humbling.

Now I’m deep in revisions to resubmit for the final round. I’m focusing on the three P’s: pacing, plot, and passive writing.

When we get bad feedback or when we’re rejected, we tell ourselves that it’s only one person’s opinion, that we learn from critique (whether the comments are warranted or not), and that at some level, we write not for accolades or appreciation but because there are things within us that just need to be expressed. If that commentary is true when we do poorly, it’s also true when we do well.

I couldn’t be more excited to have some positive feedback (tempered with much, much helpful criticism), but more than that, I know that I have a long way to go.

The Waltz That’s Viennes-y

As Joseph Campbell taught us, there aren’t a lot of stories. There’s myth and then there’s variation on it. And while we may not be telling hero stories within the romance genre, there are only a few basic plots.

  • There’s the innocent and the rake. (Related: various redemption fantasies and Beauty and the Beast-type stuff.)
  • There’s love across some sort of big old status divide, such as class, race, family expectation, vampire/human, etc. (Related: forbidden love and Romeo and Juliet-type stuff.)
  • There’s the dispossessed hero(ine). (Related: the hero(ine) wants to get the hell out Dodge, the hero(ine) wants to change her fate, and Cinderella-type stuff.)
  • There’s the protector/protectee. (Related: most romantic suspense and serial killer-type stuff.)
  • There’s the arranged marriage/marriage of convenience.

And obviously all of these plots can be reversed, used in concert, or be adapted for MM or FF romance. But my point is: there really aren’t that many stories. What matters isn’t originality. That’s very difficult to achieve and perhaps over-rated. No, what varies are the telling and the characters.

Continue reading “The Waltz That’s Viennes-y”

Word Count Check-In

7968 words for the novella. About 30% of the way there, at least if my outline turns out to be accurate.

I hate when you end up with a middle chapter that you don’t want to write but need for the story. For me, it always ends up being a chapter in my notes that contains the phrase “they fight.” I’m not good at writing conflict.

I’d like to have 15,000 words by the end of next weekend, plus 15 dissertation pages. That’s a lot of writing.

Put a Pin in It

When you’re writing and you come to something you don’t know — an historical fact, a plot twist that you haven’t worked out, a character you haven’t named — how do you deal with it?

Sometimes, I manage to skip * the unknown thing * and move on. If the flow of my writing is going well, I know that don’t want to break it. Rarely is *  the unknown thing * so important that it must be solved that very minute. I even keep a separate word processing document open when I write for my to do list. But other times, I convince myself, “This will just take a minute.” And inevitably, I emerge from Pope’s translation of The Iliad 40 minutes later with the perfect quote about grief and the waste of war. And also inevitably, my writing time for the morning is now coming to an end.

It is, in other words, amazing to me how many of my bad writing habits could be solved by simply doing the things that I know I should do.

Daily Newspapers

The past two days, I’ve written about 4,000 words for my historical novella. The heroine is very loosely based on Catharine Beecher and the hero on Theodore Weld. (Which is sort of hysterical given the fact that Weld’s wife, Angelina Grimke, had a very public conflict with Beecher about abolition politics in 1836, but I digress.)

I love that stage in writing when you have a very loose plan but then you start putting words on the page and other things just work themselves out. In this case, a backstory point that I thought was settled is playing out very differently than I had intended. But the shift creates more conflict between the characters. Since the project will be shorter than 40,000 words, there’s no room for filler. Every scene has to count. I feel like I need to turn the stakes meter up to 11, so to speak.

One resource that I’ve become addicted to is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The paper was published between 1841 and 1955 and currently, you can access the period from 1841 and 1902 full-text, online, for free. Have I mentioned that it’s also fully searchable? If you want to know much women were paying for hoop skirts, what a recruit ad for the Civil War looked like, or how people discussed society functions, there’s no substitute for reading a daily newspaper.

Happy writing!

Dual Lives

Like most people who write fiction, I do so for fun.

I am fortunate enough to spend part of my life as a professional writer (e.g., working on my dissertation) and part as a mama to very active toddlers. Much of the rest of my time is consumed by mundane human activities (i.e., showering, cooking, jogging, sleeping, etc.) or nurturing my marriage and friendships.

The difficulties in balancing recreational writing against professional and personal commitments are well-trod territories. I’ll probably explore them more at some point, but in this post, I have something else in mind.

For the moment, I’m interested in the balance between our lives as readers and our lives as writers. In the few hours a day that I’m able to snag for myself, either early in the morning before the kids are awake or in the evening after they’re asleep, how do you decide when to read and when to write?

Continue reading “Dual Lives”