Heroines Behaving Badly

I am going spare trying to figure out the characters of my new submission. The editor has asked me to do character bios of each of them in an effort to get me to focus on characterisation and it’s driving me crazy! I think I’ve got my hero figured out but my heroine refuses to play ball. I have no idea why I can’t write her but it’s incredibly annoying. Why are women so difficult?? 🙂

Anyway, for those of you thinking the editor is gently holding my hand, no she is not. She called my heroine childish and immature, not to mention unnattractive. No words have been minced there. The really irritating thing is that the ed is right. I don’t think Cat is like that in the partial but the fact remains that her conflict is only half thought out. Which is my fault.

It wasn’t all bad. She liked some of the actions my characters took (which is solely down to Michelle S’s expert advice) and she really liked the central theme. Which is why, I’m assuming, she is giving me the chance to do this story but with fully-fledged characters.

So, I have sent her some more ideas about the backgrounds for both characters and she said she’d get back to me with tweaks. Haven’t heard yet but since then I’ve gone through yet another set of ideas for my heroine. I am now officially sick of her.

The problems I’m having though are mainly because of the way I write which is writing my way into my characters. They have a half thought of background when I start but I don’t know really what they’re all about until the end. And that is not working for me clearly. I need to know all about them from the first page. I need to forget about the external conflict that brings them together and start from a core of internal conflict, building the rest of the character around that. And I need to do that before I start writing because working backwards like this is very, very hard. It’s hard because I’m desperate to keep some of the things the editor liked but I’m not sure, given my heroine’s new background, whether she would still act in the same way. And if I’m not sure, then she probably wouldn’t, which means I’ll probably have to change those bits. Changing bits the editor liked is NOT easy but then again, acting unbelievably is one of my heroine’s main failings so therefore I have to change them. Argh!

Okay, I’m now officially, officially sick of my heroine and am going to take the day off her. Big hugs to all of you who got the dreaded R from the competition. Remember an R does not mean you or your writing sucks. It just wasn’t the right story.

22 thoughts on “Heroines Behaving Badly”

  1. This romance writing lark isn’t easy, is it?

    It does sound like your editor is really keen to work with you, though, and that alone makes all the hard work worth it.


  2. I’m sure no one thinks the editor is holding your hand, Jackie and the book definitely doesn’t get written easily because you have her attention. I think a lot of pubbed writers have already told us that.

    Hope you figure out your heroine soon.


  3. Sorry she’s being difficult Jackie, but isn’t that the way? LOL Hope you recharge and can get her in line.

    I think it’s fabulous you have an editor vesting interest in you (did I say that right). Good luck!

  4. Hi, Jackie. Sorry you are having so much trouble!! Honestly, even if I do extensive background stuff, I still don’t know my characters very well. I have to WRITE them to know them. And getting the @#* internal conflict right is tough!

    I heard back from the competition today and got a request for a partial, which is really nice. But it’s weird, the feedback was pretty short, and now I’m left staring at this short paragraph they’ve written, my synopsis, and my first chapter and . . . I think I’m trying to figure out the size of an iceberg from the small fraction that is visible. And I’m feeling paralyzed, unable to do ANYTHING on my MS that is almost complete, because I’m so full of doubts.

    The further I get in this process, the more I fear screwing it up. Does that make any sense?

    Jeez, I’ll stop rambling now. Actually, I feel much better now that I got that angst of my chest:)

    Anyway, I read your post about going crazy and felt your pain. We all know you are busting your butt on this And NO ONE thinks the editor is holding your hand.

    And finally, I’ll shut up and go away:)


  5. Jackie, why are heroines so difficult to write? It’s my own Rubik’s cube. I loved my comp heroine, may she R.I.P. Not even the best trained surgeon could revive her now. It kills me to have to archive a full ms.

    You have the skills to flesh her out. However, I’m all for taking a break. Hooray for Xmas.

    Amy, Big congrats on your request! The spontaneous smile on my face has put me in a better frame of mind.

  6. Suzanne – no it’s not easy. The editor is keen which makes the pressure worse in many ways. What if I don’t do a good job? Argh!

    Sri – maybe not. 🙂 Having her attention is fab but it does make things harder for me.

    Hetal – thanks! I’m over thinking waaaay too much now. A recharge is definitley what’s in order.

    Amy – yup, that internal conflict is a b*tch!! But hey, fab news on the request! I hear you being full of doubts. I’m full of doubts on this too. But you have to push ahead. The only way you know if you’re doing it right is to sub. And yeah, totally with you on the further along you get the harder it is. There’s nothing about this that is easy.

    Rach – cheers hon!

    Lacey – I’m trying the day off approach but my heroine keeps coming back to haunt me. I need an exorcist!

    Veronica – you can revive her I’m sure. For another story. I wish I loved mine just as much – maybe that’s why I’m having so many difficulties with her. I don’t like her – at least, I don’t now!

  7. This may be utterly useless as a suggestion, especially if you don’t believe in astrology or know nothing about it, but I often find it interesting to consider which astrological sign my character is – sometimes that helps nail an elusive character more firmly in my head.

    But I believe in astrology, and even studied it in my twenties with a view to becoming an astrologer, which kinda helps!

    Please ignore this. Crazy Jane!

  8. Jane, that is SO not crazy! What a fabulous suggestion. I could see that being very helpful. I think I’ll do that with my current H/H.


  9. Veronica – my stars were for Tuesday (okay, so they’re a day behind but), paraphrased: There are days when we are in the right place at the right time and then there are days where nothing falls sweetly into place…
    Lol! Couldn’t have written it better myself!

    Romy – Thanks for the link. That’s really cool. Maisey also mentioned Myers Brigs to me so I might look at that as well.

  10. I take it you’re a Gemini, Jackie…
    My mum’s one and she’s got the most contagious laughter around.

    cainer.com is UK based so today’s prediction is now up! Oh, the enigma of it all…

  11. Hope you’re having a better day today Jackie. Along with the sign, I have and east meets west astrology book that is helpful. It combines the year you are born with the month sign – like I’m a Leo Rat. I go through the book and read the strengths & weaknesses of each sign.

    Anyways. Just a thought.
    Good luck.

  12. Lorraine – somedays I think I can, somedays I think, nup. 🙂

    Veronica – yes, indeed, I am a Gemini! How can you tell? 😉 Will go and check the site now.

    Gibb – Nice to hear from you! Gosh, I could try that too. Personally I would be a Gemini Dog. Which sounds mutually exclusive from what I’ve read about them. Lol!

  13. Jackie, it sure isn’t easy. I’m with you. I write myself into my characters. I’m so impatient to begin the story that i don’t really know my characters until i’m in the thick of it and then i have to figure them out when the going gets tough!
    Michelle Styles has a great link on her website on Ennegrames for characters styles mostly for heroes i think, but check it out!

  14. Hey, Jackie, I have to ask. Are you working on anything else at the moment? Because I find that it helps put perspective on another wip that’s being difficult if you concentrate on another story for a while. If you haven’t tried it, maybe that’s your answer. All the best,


  15. Hey Maya, I am working on something else. But I am also trying to do the same thing with that as I am with this – characterise before I start writing! However, as they say, a change is as good as a rest so maybe I’ll go on with that.
    Think I may have a solution to my difficult heroine though…

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