Oops I Did It Again

If you’re here wanting a dose of Brittney, then pop back to Google again – ain’t no Brittney on this blog. However, if you’re here with romance writing in mind and feeling like you keep making the same mistakes over and over again then join the club ’cause that’s exactly where I am now.

My soldier story, for which I have abandoned the other WIPs, is giving me gip. The first inkling I had that perhaps things were not all quiet on the Western Front was when I was brainstorming a couple of ideas to throw my hero and heroine together, one of the crit group wondered what was wrong with the lead characters thinking each other was hot and hooking up. And I thought, ‘yeah, what’s wrong with that?’, at the same time as thinking about complex reasons for my heroine to contact the hero again. Groan.

I guess I should be glad my instincts were right – something wasn’t working but I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. And then after a chat with Dr Jax who is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to me overcomplicating stuff, I figured out that – yep, you guessed it – I was overcomplicating stuff. Making them too self aware. AGAIN!! Argh!!!

Fact is they don’t need complicated reasons to hook up with each other. Okay, so they don’t want a relationship, they don’t want to fall in love, but falling in love and relationships are not the first thing they think of when they meet. All they’re thinking is ‘hey, you’re hot, I want to see you again’. It doesn’t matter if there aren’t concrete reasons for them to do so, as long as the characters can justify it to themselves. The reader knows the real reason – they’re attracted to each other. So my heroine Niamh doesn’t need heaps of external conflict in order to get her to ask the hero to be her date, all she needs is to be able to justify it to herself. She may not want to acknowledge the real reason, that she’s attracted to him and wants to spend time with him, but she can tell herself she’s asking him because she hates going alone to these things. Or that his presence will stop someone hitting on her or whatever. As long as her justifications are within keeping of her character, then that’s all you need.

Sigh. I don’t know why I keep doing this. I guess my problem is that subconsciously I’m thinking that being attracted to someone is waaaay too simple a reason and so I have to add all these other reasons in there. In the same way I overcomplicate my conflict because I think that falling in love is too simplistic a way to solve all their problems. Thing is, it doesn’t solve everything. But this is category and for the characters, in that moment in time, it does solve the the conflict that you’ve given them. There simply isn’t the word space to explore other tangents or strands to the conflict.

Ah well, at least I’ve sorted it out now before I’ve written more than two chapters. Anyone else have mistakes they keep making? I hope I’m not the only one!

12 thoughts on “Oops I Did It Again”

  1. You know you’re not the only one…we all have our little pet mistakes that keep coming back to bite us in the butts. Me? It’s the glitter. The shiny. The THINGS. I add more and more and more…and it’s SO GLITTERY AND SPARKLY!! YAY!!!

    But it’s actually goaudy and overdone and I have to go back through and pick the excess macaroni off my little art project. 🙁

  2. Maisey – excess macaroni? Surely not! Mine’s like I should be knitting a simple scarf and yet I keep wanting to turn it into macrame. Either that or a Christian Dior tailored gown with lots of pleats and folds. Sigh.

  3. I would say, good that you have found / recognized your pet peeve. Now, you have to be on the lookout to ensure you aren’t making the same mistake 😉 – which IMHO, is easier.

    Before you club me, let me explain.. I meant, it is easier than not knowing what the consistent mistake is in the first place 🙂

    In my case, I’m still trying to find that out..and then I can probably roll up my sleeves to pluck out that weed …

  4. Ju – that’s true. At least I went with my instinct this time which was to recognise that something wasn’t right. Still didn’t know what it was till I’d had a talk about it though. What I have to do now is to recognise it BEFORE I write! 🙂

  5. At the moment my biggest mistake is rushing. I am so desperate to reach the end I forget all the little things that should be in the middle and so my characters motivation isn’t as clear as it should be.

    I know these can be added in when polishing, but I struggle to keep going when I already know the ending!!

    Yes, I desperately need patience and stamina. Story of my life …

  6. Jackie,

    My problem is forgetting that at some point if I’m lucky, other people are going to be reading my book. Which means all the stuff I know in my head is no good being kept there, I need to share! I honestly do forget to keep the reader informed at all times and isn’t that just plain silly? Talk about writing to please myself!

    At least now you have an idea of what is possibly holding you back and that can only be a good thing. In real life we agree to go out on dates because there’s an attraction there, sadly in romance world we need that attraction to come with a conflict big enough to fill Santa’s sack.

    It’s funny in a way because when I met my husband I was a single mother to one lovely little boy but at no time did I doubt in our relationship because if Andrew didn’t want my son, then I didn’t want Andrew. Simple as. It was never an issue thank God but I know if I’d been the heroine of a good old romance novel then our conflicts would have been enormous! I guess what I’m trying to say, in my usual dizzy Aideen way, is that sometimes Fiction is harder than real life because if it wasn’t, who’d want to read it??

    Don’t overcomplicate, have them fancy the socks off each other, just make sure one of them wants what the other can’t give. Simple, right?

    Irish luck as you tackle Niamh and the man ‘doomed’ to be the one, LOL.

  7. Joanne – Yep, I’m a bit like that too. I’m desperate to reach the end ’cause I’m worried that if I don’t get there quickly, I’ll lose interest entirely! But yep, that’s what editing is for. 🙂

    Aideen – well, m’dear, you were the one that gave me such sage advice initially and I have taken it to heart. Yeah, there has to be conflict because, as you say, if there isn’t, why would you want to read about it? But the conflict doesn’t have to be all there immediately – the attraction can be the initial driver. And really, that’s all I need for this story. Dunno why on earth I keep chucking other things in there. You make it sound so simple… I’ll cut and paste your comment and stick in my wip so I remember. 😉

  8. Jackie – I know at times you’ve experienced some of the lower points of being a writer but I have to say I’m so glad you have…..Now don’t take that in a bad way because you are one of those enormously generous people who are brave enough not only to share how you feel but also what went wrong. And THAT’S why I so grateful; I’m about 3/4 of the way through a rewrite of my ms (rewrite inspired by you and your Sassy Sisters) and I just started to introduce a character to facilitate a bit of external conflict when the memory of one of your blogs set off the alarms. I went back and read your wise words, came back (did a Maisey *delete delete delete*) and whamo focussing on the internal conflict has made the story SO much stronger. Please keep up the good work – you and your gal pals are becoming my oracles as I struggle with the mechanics of these manuscripts.

  9. Joni – wow, what a lovely thing to say! You made my day, you know that? Not to mention the days of the Sisters too! I’m so pleased my ups and downs are useful to people. Having a down day today but you’ve perked me up no end.
    Anyway, detailing my problems and solutions is the librarian in me wanting to give everyone as much info as they can. Though of course, sometimes what I think are solutions turn out not to be, so don’t take my word as gospel. But yep, if you’re suffering saggy middle ms syndrome and you want to add some more characters, could be all you need to do is to go deeper into the conflict. Depends, I guess, on what you’re writing.
    Anyway, glad myself and the Sisters can help!

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