Midwest Musings: Renovating a Manuscript
I am currently participating in the “A Year of Love Blog Hop” with several other Crimson Romance authors as we celebrate CR’s first year anniversary. Click on the Blog Hop tab above for more details about how, by participating, you have the chance to win a $50 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, as well as read excerpts from each of our books and an original round robin story created by some of our authors.
The coming Friday, June 21, just happens to be the Summer Solstice. I will be posting a special post, “Summer Solstice Supper and Summer Reading List,” joining several other authors to provide you with a super summer solstice menu. Come back then for some great recipes and reading.
Coming up on June 22 and 23 I’ll be posting on www.justcontemporaryromance.com and will be giving a way a digital copy of The Sleepover Clause. Stop by and comment to get your name into the drawing. I’m also advertising on that same blog for the next four weeks. My first ad appears today.
Decluttering – Part 3
Have I mentioned here before that I’m a huge fan of the House and Garden TV (HGTV) Network? I’ve been viewing it for years, purportedly doing “research” for my residential development series, current working title, “The Dances of Sullivan’s Creek.” What I really love are the design shows. However, until recently, about the only one that has aired is, “Love It or List It,” so even though I’ve tired of its formula, I’ve been tuning in anyhow.
The “formula,” as the title suggests, is a competition between a realtor and an interior designer who specializes in renovating “problem” houses to win the support of the episode’s problem houseowners. I usually root for the designer. The homeowners usually give her a budget that, from the beginning, has no chance of meeting all their listed needs. To add to the drama, her crew inevitably “discovers” structural/environmental problems the owners never revealed or knew about, which eats further into her budget.
This past week, I began the most recent revision of the first book in the series mentioned above. It involves the design stage of the project. The hero and heroine are the two architects assigned to work together to develop a design concept for an unknown client. The heroine sets out to break up her best friend’s relationship with her new boyfriend, the hero, so that the friend will return to the arms of the heroine’s commitment-shy brother. The heroine justifies what others might consider rather unsavory actions by telling herself her friend and brother truly love each other, and the new guy, known for his love-em-or-leave-em rep, will inevitably break her friend’s heart. This plot has met with mixed reviews from critique partners, contest judges and those to whom I’ve pitched it. Some have been fine with it and others, like the agent I met with last, said this type of plot rarely goes over well with readers.
Taking her comment to heart, I’ve decided to see what can be done to restructure the story to make it more palatable this time around. I now have the two friends working together to make the brother jealous. The hero is in on the plot, although he doesn’t know the heroine knows about it as well.
I’d made my way through the first third, when I threw up my hands in frustration. Like my designer, who weekly discovers mold, faulty wiring, structural decay, termites, or you name it after they’ve opened up floors, ceilings and walls, my new story isn’t holding up as much as I’d like now that I’ve deleted certain sections and rewritten other segments. I could almost visualize it wobbling, like the foundation was about the collapse. Could I borrow a cue from my designer? She usually has her crew give it to her straight. How bad is the problem? Can dealing with it be avoided (almost always, no)?How can it be fixed? How much will dealing with the problem cost? Then she gives the homeowners the “good news” about the repairs and tells them what she’s not going to be able to do with their “must have” list.
Since I don’t have a crew to give me all the facts, I have to establish them on my own. But the general principle still works: figure out what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and brainstorm what can be done, if anything, to fix it. Unlike the designer, I’m not stuck with a set budget. How much time, effort and creativity I invest in making this project work is entirely up to me. The only limiting part is that it’s the first book in a three-part series, where I have to set up the rest of the series. Of course, I always have the option of writing a new story to replace this one or even begin the series with the second book.
Unlike the TV show, this revision process is not a sixty-minute episode. It’s not going to solve itself overnight. But I’ve already tried out some new tools. First, I’m now going back through the first third and inserting notes to myself either describing the problem at that point in the story or suggesting what work still needs to be done to fix the problem. I’m identifying these with %%, so I can do a “find” to locate them as I’m ready to deal with them. They’re also in red font. Also, I’m back to writing a new premise statement. The Goal, Motivation and Conflict are still basically the same. I’m simply working through them differently.
Stay tuned. I’ll update you on my success, or lack thereof, in future weeks.