Why Being a Geek Isn’t Enough

Where am I up to with the whole heroine’s internal conflict thing? Well, since getting the big thumbs down on the mother angle of her conflict, I’ve had more feedback. Now, initially my heroine was ashamed and insecure about being a geek. But this is not ‘good conflict’ because being a geek should not be a reason to be a ashamed or embarassed. There has to be something deeper that makes her feel insecure, not just because she likes electronics and gothic metal. And there is something deeper I’ve decided. What makes her feel insecure? The fact that she’s different and has never felt like she fitted in.

So, how do I make her different without falling into the Parent Trap? I can’t make her feeling different because her mother always told her she was. Neither can I make it dependent on her taste in music or because she likes computers. It has to come from something inside herself. I had a good think about my heroine and the way I’ve written her, and thought that probably she’d feel different because she was very, very bright. Perhaps her family is very normal and don’t know how to deal with a high IQ child? Perhaps when she was in high school, she was put in accelerated learning classes, made to feel different from the rest of her peers at a time when all a kid really wants is to be the same. And then I thought, well how about at one stage of her life she found a group where she did fit in but ended up being cast out of it? How would she feel? What’s say that at university, a place where she thought she belonged, she maybe showed up someone by mistake, and as a result was excluded from the group. This would make her very unsure of herself. She’d always be worried she’s going to make another mistake, break some social rule she didn’t know about, which may mean a loss of the feeling of belonging. So maybe this is why she doesn’t like social situations, the reason she’s very insecure, worried about saying the wrong thing. And this will be the reason why her black moment will be so terrible for her: she will say the wrong thing and it will result in her losing the hero, and thereby losing the one person in the world who she thought understood her, the world she built with him where she thought she belonged. Evil eh? Didn’t I say I liked torturing my characters?? 🙂 Her resolution will be her finding the confidence to risk saying the wrong thing again in order to win the hero back.

Phew. Sorry, went on a tad there. I hope that wasn’t too boring! It’s just that I thought going through the process of deciding on strong internal conflict could be useful. Ideally you would do this before beginning writing your manuscript – or at least you’d have the bones of it there to begin with.

Anyway, I don’t know if this will work. I let Anna know the angle I was going to take and I haven’t heard back so I’m assuming this is a ‘go for it’ sign. I hope!! She has given me a deadline which is in a month’s time. Eurrgh! I feel sick!!

13 thoughts on “Why Being a Geek Isn’t Enough”

  1. Definitely not boring. Fascinating and informative more like. It’s great to see your thought process as you decide on your heroine’s conflicts.

    Deep breaths and the sickness will pass. It’s so exiting that you have a deadline.


  2. Thanks for that, Suzanne. Don’t want to feel like this is all boring crap for people. They don’t have to read it if is though I guess. 🙂

    Conflict is one of the trickier things to get right and it just goes to show that no matter how far you are along in this process, you can run into difficulties. Basically, for good internal conflict, decide on what your main characters’ worst fear is and then make it happen. Simple. 😉

  3. hey Jackie,

    Definitely made sense to me. It can be so hard to always gauge yourself so that you don’t upset someone and therefore not be yourself. I can totally see her being screwed up in that way.

    And, no you weren’t boring at all.

    And if someone thinks so, like you said, no one’s forcing them to read it, right?
    Tell me how you get along incorporating the conflict into the ms.


  4. Ah, Sri, thank you. Incorporating this into the ms isn’t going to be too tricky as all her actions stem from not being very confident anyway. But I find I am having to make her do certain things in order to fit in with what comes later. It’s either that or rewrite the second half of the book completely. Which I don’t want to do since it’s the second half they particularly like! Grrr. 😉

  5. Your heroine sounds really interesting and easy to identify with (who hasn’t at times felt they don’t fit in?!). It’s great to hear about how you’re working the conflict in. Not boring at all.

    (This might make you smile – someone came to my blog recently after googling ‘afternoon tea stands’)

  6. I think it’s great, Jackie. It fits in perfectly with what I’ve been doing in a recent online class.

    I love these posts. Thanks again for sharing so freely what you’ve been learning.

  7. Sounds good Jackie and the whole conflict thing is of great interest to lots of us out here in cyberspace so thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Here’s hoping the oracle says yes!

    You will be fine, you’re a great writer and they like you 🙂

  8. Lucy – that’s really funny! You could get commission on any sales that resulted from visits to your blog!

    Jo – great that it does fit with your class. Maybe that means I’m doing something right?? No problem with the sharing, I’m learning heaps from the process myself.

    Lorraine – I think the only way to know if the oracle says yes is if the book sells. Oh please God! 😉

  9. This is so difficult to understand.
    I’ve almost got it–I think!

    Is this right?

    You can’t have your h feeling insecure simply because she’s a member of a specific social group. One defined by tastes in music/liking for computers (ie a geek.) Simply being a geek is no reason to feel ashamed or insecure.

    Neither can she be ashamed of the way she is (a geek) just because of another person’s bad treatment of her (ie her mother has criticised her for being a geek and made her feel ashamed)

    Her baggage, now,is that she has always felt different. Initially this wasn’t because anyone had made her feel different but because she is different– She’s super intelligent. (genetic)

    But she feels insecure because her high intelligence resulted in her being put in an accelerated learning class and this made her feel different from her peer group.

    But isn’t that similar to the original h’s mother making her feel insecure, because she told her she was different? Only this time the school is telling her she’s different instead of her mother. She’s been made to feel different because of the school’s treatment of her.

    Except the school isn’t trying to make her feel bad about it like the mother was.

    Maybe this is the difference? No-one is telling her how to feel. The insecurities come from the situation, not somebody’s criticism of her?

  10. Janet, yes, that’s pretty much it. No – conflict can’t be just because she’s part of a social group (stereotype). And it can’t be because of her mother (parent defining the conflict).

    How I think about it, is that the conflict has stemmed from a quality about her – her high intelligence – and her reaction to that quality. ie, her conflict comes from inside her.
    She has always felt different – she didn’t even feel like part of her own family because of this quality that (she feels) makes her different.

    Now, when you’re a kid, all you want to do is be the same as everyone else. So did my heroine. This anger and feeling like she didn’t belong, was exacerbated by the special treatment she got at school. Again, nobody is making her feel this way, she decides how she feels about it.

    So her conflict is about her response to something inside of herself, conflict that has been added to by the situation (school). Not to the situation itself. Does that make sense? I think I’m confusing even myself!

    This could all be total b*llocks of course, which you’ll find out when this story is rejected. 🙂

  11. Glad to see you’re being positive Jackie 😉 You mean ‘if’ it were to be rejected. In that hopefully highly unlikely event you have several other cracking stories lined up to submit…
    Sending you a hug 🙂

  12. Jackie,

    You SO deserve to get ‘The Call’, as you are able to adapt your story to the guidance being proffered by MH.

    And your writing is brilliant as well…. :o)

    There is no way MH would still be bothering with you if they didn’t have a publication date in mind!

    So you keep going, girlfriend. You are going to make it.

  13. Lorraine – thanks! Yep, that’s me, Miss Positive. You know it’s just my magical thinking kicking in. 😉

    Elisabeth – you are a sweetie! Thanks for the encouragement! I do feel I’m getting there. And if this story isn’t the right one, at least I’ve learned heaps from writing it. 🙂

Comments are closed.