You Learn Something New Every Day

Well, what a weekend it’s been. My poor husband has been in despair. Mainly because I am being very mono-manic about my writing!
Why? Because I’ve been inspired! After the wonderful Michelle Styles offered to look over the synopses of my next two subs, I have been having lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment. I think I must be very slow with learning all of this stuff because Michelle did point out things that Anna has already said to me, but for some reason I didn’t see it in the manuscripts I’ve already written. Maybe it’s to do with having new eyes to see the wood in spite of the trees, or maybe it’s because I only focussed on fixing one thing to the detriment of all the rest, but whatever, the main thing is that it will mean RE-WRITING BOTH ENTIRE MANUSCRIPTS! Argh.

So? What were the problems? I’ll point out the things from my climbing story:
1. The internal conflict was complicated for the heroine (again) and my hero was too self aware. There was no clear reason why they couldn’t be together.
2. The two characters must grow from the experience. They must learn things from each other. Again, it wasn’t clear what the h&h learned from each other or how they were changed at the end.
3. I didn’t give any reasons as to why my hero was willing to give up the thing that made him who he was for my heroine. Neither did I make it clear why my heroine would overcome her fear of commitment for my hero other than the fact that she loved him. Why did she love him? Why did he love her?
4. My story was episodic. One scene didn’t lead particularly well into the next.
5. My characters were reactive not active. In other words they reacted to stuff that happened to them, they didn’t drive the story along by taking action themselves.

Phew! Quite a bit of stuff. And those were just the main points. There were other problems too. Fixing all of this was actually surprisingly easy once the faults were pointed out. To fix things I:

1. Gave my heroine some internal conflict that made getting involved with my hero her worst nightmare. Made my hero peripatetic and loving his freedom, who finds my heroine’s need for security claustrophobic.
2. My heroine will learn stuff about herself from the hero and will use what she’s learned to eventually get the hero. My hero will learn he can’t live without the heroine, that her qualities are what’s missing from his life, that he can’t do without them, and what happens to make him realise this.
3. I gave them both qualities that each find attractive in the other. The heroine loved the excitement that the hero’s risk taking brought into her life. The hero likes my heroine’s bravery in how she goes along with one of his schemes even though she deems it risky.
4 & 5. I made the characters decide the flow of events rather than letting lots of outside forces determine the action. This makes them drive the story forward.

I’ve also learned HEAPS about synopsis writing. It really is an art. I thought I had it but no, I didn’t! I am still fiddling around with the current synopsis but it’s much better than it was and is certainly a great blueprint for how the story will follow.

Anyway, I’m all energised and desperate to get into writing. I want this story to be the one!

Once again, huge thanks to Michelle for her time. I really feel like I’ve come a long way since last week!

11 thoughts on “You Learn Something New Every Day”

  1. Jackie-huge hugs. Big warm bouncy ones.
    I was fortunate enough to ‘win’ Michelle’s mentoring for a year. And at the very start she said-roll up the sleeves, this needs work and sweat (a bit like the Fame film). And boy was she right. Many of the same things you mention came up. But Michelle is wonderful. She’s lifted my writing totally, she can transform a story to rare gold!
    Getting Michelle’s help really is the writing lottery. So go with it-and go create magic! Though I can relate on the one-track-writing stuff-I wandered the house for months chanting Michelle-isms! No fun for a husband to witness. My mother too thought I was nuts when I kept dashing off to write things down.
    jx
    Saying that I’m still on tenterhooks but I do know I have the strongest manuscript I’ve ever had! And thats thanks to Michelle. Raising stakes and emotional growth is the way to go! I also became addicted to reading all Michelle’s books as craft books, it’s eye-opening.

  2. Ooooh, love the hugs, Judy. Thanks! I know what you mean re Michelle’s comments. They ARE gold and she’s a very generous person to offer to look over my sorry excuse for a synopsis. And when she pointed out all the things that were wrong (and they were many and varied) I had a big ‘doh’ moment!! I am SO thankful I sent her my synopsis because if I hadn’t, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have had another reject on my hands.
    Yes, my weekend was totally writing orientated. I was so excited about how much better my story would be. I jabbered on and on to the husband about all the stuff I could do to strengthen the conflict – I’m sure he was utterly sick and tired of the story!
    Anyway, am going to have to rush off and get some of Michelle’s books. Haven’t managed to yet but I’m going to correct that error.

  3. Hubby will forgive you when you’re keeping him in a life of luxury.

    You’re making terrific progress, Jacquie. And thank you so much for posting Michelle’s advice – it’s a huge help to all we struggling wannabes.

    Second Judy in sending hugs and I think we should all start chanting Michelle-isms.

    🙂

  4. Jackie, am so sorry – spelt your name wrong in that last comment. I’ve just been e-mailing an auditor who’s a Jacquie and I think my brain stalled. There are some days I shouldn’t be allowed to leave comments on the blogs of civilized people.

    x

  5. No worries, Suzanne. I don’t mind re the name. Well thanks to Michelle also who didn’t mind me posting said advice. There’s lots of great stuff so I might post a few more things too.

  6. What a useful post, Jackie. I love all the advice Michelle gives out (and you via Michelle!).

    I remember getting some advice once about each character having to have a learning/growing part of their journey through the book. It’s another of those things to remember along with the pesky conflict, not dumping backstory (ahem … me?!), POV issues, moving the story on with each scene.

    I think I need to lie down …

  7. *Gasp* you said that word (synopsis)! So the key is to kidnap Michelle huh?

    It’s so exciting! You can jabber on to me if you want to give husband a break 🙂

    Keep writing like mad!

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