The Dangers of Self Awareness

It’s been a bit of a full on weekend. Firstly it was my daughter’s fourth birthday, secondly I am in the middle of Nano-ing, and thirdly I twisted my ankle right at the crucial moment of getting my daughter to come to see her birthday cake! Collapsing on the couch in a moment of extreme agony, the rest of my family thought I was having a wee nap and laughed. It was only when I went green that they suspected it wasn’t just tiredness that had me stretched full length on the couch.

Anyway, trying to do the first two with the third has been a bit of a mission. Especially since all I wanted to do was sit at my desk and write my ms – apparently not a good thing with a twisted ankle that should be kept elevated.

However, I have been making respectable progress. I will be finishing it this week which will be great. The only problem with writing a novel in about a week and a half is that no doubt I’ll need to spend a month editing the thing! I’m almost afraid to read what I’ve written – it’ll be dreck I’m sure of it.

And it hasn’t been all all plain sailing with the writing either. I have a big problem in that I tend to make my h&h too self aware too early. In fact I didn’t even realise this was, in fact, what I was doing until Dr Jax rolled his eyes and pointed it out to me. The issue with making them self aware – ie being in love – is that if you do it too early, you run into the problem where it’s not the conflict keeping them apart so much as the being in love and not wanting to be. So the focus changes from the conflict – eg, my heroine not wanting to be protected – to her not wanting to be in love. Same with the hero. He fell in love too early and so his angst stems from not wanting to be in love rather than wanting to hold on to someone who doesn’t want to be held.

Tricky eh? It’s my own fault really. I love angst which is why I make them self aware – the anguish of loving someone but not wanting to! O the pain! But if you have two people loving each other and yet not wanting to be in love, how does this resolve the conflict? All there is angst with nothing really progressing. Which is why I felt I was writing the same thing over and over, having my heroine constantly go over the reasons why she doesn’t want to fall in love and yet nothing really happening with her real conflict.

But then, how do I include the angst and tension? You’re supposed to have it right? Which is when Dr Jax pointed out that the conflict provides the tension not the ‘I’m so in love and yet I can’t be’ kind of thing. Another Aha moment for me. So I’ve pulled back on the awareness, let the conflict provide the tension, and my characters will not be falling in love until right near the end. That’ll teach ’em.

15 thoughts on “The Dangers of Self Awareness”

  1. Oh, I hope your ankle feels better soon and happy birthday to your little girl.
    I know what you’re talking about the character being aware too soon too. In the MS I’m currently revising, my heroine accepts that she’s in love, but keeps reiterating why she can’t hope for a HEA, or why the Hero won’t love her at least once in every chapter from ch 7 or so, that I want to club her on the head and tell her to do something about it. πŸ™
    So much for loving your characters.

  2. Thanks Sri. Yep, that was exactly my problem too. So I had to make my heroine less aware of things until much later. Alternatively, you can make her do something about it and have the hero’s reaction provide some angst. Difficult balance though eh?

  3. You’re in the wars! I hope your ankle feels better soon. I have discovered that if you sit awkwardly you can both elevate and type but kiss your alignment goodbye πŸ˜€ We could call it “yoga”?

  4. (belch on the ankle) Yep. Very tough thing to balance.

    I always think it’s good when it can be clear to the reader they’re in love, even if it isn’t clear to them. Works particularly well with the men, since they aren’t so self-aware. πŸ™‚

    My most recent MS was interesting because the heroine was in love with the hero from the beginning, which made a whole new and different kind of issue. πŸ™‚

  5. I am Lacey. Lol re yoga! Alternatively, pilates could work too. πŸ™‚

    Maisey – yeah, that’s true. I think, hell, it’s clear to me they’re in love, so surely they should know too? But no, perhaps they shouldn’t. And guys definitely are less aware of their feelings in that respect.
    Oh yes, pre-existing conditions are another kettle of fish altogether eh? Love a relationship with history.

  6. hmm sounds very interesting. the chapter i sent off for the competition has the premise that the heroine will realise she is in love with the hero but then she MUST NOT be in love with him. I can now see that this conflict just may not work!! Darn it. Oh well. much too much to go into, would need a whole post on my own blog about this lol! but then i’m NTAI πŸ˜‰
    Hope your ankle heals quickly.
    Congrats on the 4 year old daughter – my son is 4 tomorrow! the time goes way too quickly (sigh).

  7. its tricky isn’t it? I had my heroine realise about chapter 10 and hero not too far after that BUT i drew it out soooo much i wonder if all the denial is believable?

    Go you re finishing the whole thing. You are damn fast girl!

    Happy birthday to miss four and rest up with that ankle.

  8. Kerrin – happy birthday for your son! Great birthdays in November eh?
    As for your entry, well, as long as there is a reason for her not to be in love with the hero – ie the conflict rather than just love in general, then you’ll be okay. Yep, NTAI is a good idea!

    Very tricky Janette. Maybe it’s just me having the problem – didn’t notice it in yours!

  9. So sorry to hear about the ankle. I hope it heals really quickly.

    Amazing all these little 4-year olds. My daughter will be 4 in December!

    I know that Nano first drafts are supposed to be dreck but right now my heroine keeps taking excption to everything the hero says – and they’re still in that happy, getting-to-know you phase where they’re actually supposed to like each other!

  10. Jackie,

    Sorry to hear about your ankle? 4 year old, huh? Know how that is. My twins turn 4 in January!!

    Great progress on NaNo. I may do it next year. Sounds like tortuous fun :).

    Love your Ah-ha moments. Makes me really think about what i’m doing (or not). I don’t think my guys are getting there too early, but I can look at it with a different perspective.

    Oh, and what the feck is ‘dreck’??

  11. Hi Jackie,
    I came across your post on Kate Walker’s blog on Alpha males and I’ve been following your blog ever since. Because of your post today I decided to stop lurking and chime-in. My current WIP portrays a h/h in love only neither is aware of it – there are strong external and internal conflicts not based on denial of this love.I guess what I’m saying and hoping:) that there are other very strong emotions and reasons for keeping a h/h from their HEA and keeping the tension high. My WIP is more a journey of learning and growth. I entered it the Harlequin Presents Writing Competition. I guess I’ll find out if it worked, huh?
    Btw, I’m sitting here with my swollen ankle in a tensor band and ice. Tripped putting out the garbage last night. Hope you’re doing better!!

  12. (((HUGS))) on the poor ankle. But wait for the scream now – a whole book written in a week and a half! did I read that right- aghhhh!!!!!. (((THUMP))) – that’s my jaw hitting the floor. Way to go! Take care. Caroline x

  13. Romy – obviously 2005 was a good year for babies eh?
    Lol re your heroine! It’s annoying when that happens eh?

    Kailey – I think that the falling in love bit is different with each story. Was too early in this one definitely. Oh and Nano being tortuous fun is EXACTLY what it is!
    Dreck is rubbish basically. Or as they say here in Kiwiland it’s ‘as rough as guts’. πŸ˜‰

    Eve – thanks for commenting! Sounds like your WIP is fine. Like I was saying to Kailey, I think it’s different with each story and with each conflict. Commiserations on the ankle! Yuck huh? πŸ™‚

    Caroline – it was only 40k so not really an entire book. And really, the last third of it…well, don’t really want to read it! πŸ™‚

  14. Oh no- hope your ankle is mending well, Jackie!
    LOL on the not wanting to read the story written so fast. I did my comp entry story as a “Book in a Week”. Didn’t quite manage to finish the whole thing in the week, but did get over 40,000 words. Problem is, I am still trying to turn that first draft into a decent submittable story months later. It’s been a real adventure of learning what does NOT work in a romance.
    Hopefully you won’t have the same problem with yours!

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