Friday 20 January 2012

A New Start

After only a week or two of nailbiting I was really lucky this week to get a phone call from the editor who's dealing with me. And so I have news about Honeymoon and a new direction.

I hadn't expected anything like this quick a response and was grimly settled into revising the second half of Honeymoon, all the while trying to ignore my gut feeling that it really wasn't good enough. Unfortunately I was absolutely right. I got some really great feedback though, and any low feelings passed pretty quickly. She reiterated that they like my voice and that they like my portrayal of the heroine very much. She said there were moments of brilliance, which was lovely. But the feeling was the story itself wasn't strong enough. If I'm honest I can see where she's coming from. I found it very difficult to keep writing as I got further through the story, it was like pulling teeth, but I plodded on regardless. So Honeymoon goes onto the backburner, at least for now. Perhaps I will go back and finish it at some point in the future when I'm more experienced and have a better grasp of what is required.

I am thrilled, however, that she liked one of my story ideas and after giving me lots of advice, has let me loose to start on a new project! I am beyond excited about this and filled with all the optimism that always seems to accompany starting a new story. I'd only supplied her with a brief idea of the story and a few lines about the possible conflicts for hero and heroine, so my next step is to go back to her with a more detailed synopsis and story plan. As a result I am now up to my ears in research, which is something I did hardly any of for Honeymoon, and I can't help wondering if that was part of the problem. As it was a New Voices entry, I dashed off one chapter of it without doing any of the usual groundwork beyond basic character sketches. When Liz Fielding first got in touch with me after it went through to the second round I had only the vaguest idea of where the story was heading and I could never have produced such a strong Chapter Two without her excellent guidance. I can't help thinking that the way the story weakened as it progressed was partly to do with my lack of planning before I started writing the thing.

So I'm determined not to let that happen this time. I'm doing lots of background research first, which currently involves watching episodes of Made In Chelsea (completely insane but strangely addictive). I also intend to spend loads of time on my character plans. Only then will I look at coming up with a skeleton plot. I hope (crossing fingers) that all this background work will stand me in good stead when it comes to actually writing it.

In terms of advice I can share...well what I can say is the editor used the terms 'sparkling, daring, edgy, glamorous..' an awful lot, and there's very much a feeling that it needs to have global appeal. I was told to make sure my hero remains extremely alpha as that was something I was losing sight of now and then in Honeymoon. She also advised me to read lots of the line, which I am already doing - I find this helpful in showing what kind of story and feel they are after, but at the same time it often fills me with a desperate 'I'll NEVER be that good..' kind of feeling!

So to sum up, one project on the back burner, and another at the starting line. I will post progress updates as I go along, but for now its back to King's Road for me!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Captain Doubt Moves In With Me

I've finally pressed SEND on my three story ideas and now Captain Doubt is sitting opposite me at the kitchen table as I type this.

I procrastinated and fiddled for three weeks before forcing myself to just send the wretched things.Not just about the ideas themselves (are they cutting-edge and twisty enough? Is there enough conflict to sustain 50k or am I so busy congratulating myself on being smugly original in the story hook that the whole thing will collapse after one chapter?) but also in the presentation (Should I write it like a synopsis? Are bullet points a good idea? Does the editor want a full bio of my hero and heroine? Should I name them? Aaaarghhh!) In the end I settled for something resembling a short synopsis of the story, plus brief details of the conflicts for the hero and heroine.

So now they are GONE. And there's nothing I can do about them except settle in for what I'm sure will be a long wait. Knowing this doesn't stop Captain Doubt whispering in my ear that none of them are a)good enough, b) original enough or c)sparkly/daring/edgy enough.

While I wait for a response from the editor on the story ideas, I debate what to do. Without knowing which (if any! - Captain Doubt) she will choose I don't want to start developing any of them until I hear from her. So I decide to go back and finish Honeymoon, my NV story. I am also waiting  for the editor's response on the first six chapters of this but am convinced by Captain Doubt that there is nothing in them that will change her view that we put Honeymoon to one side for now and work on something new. In fact as I read and get ready to revise Chapter Seven this morning I begin to convince myself that it's rubbish, my characters are developing in fits and starts, the plot is insane and the six chapters I've already sent are puerile nonsense.

I do have an idea where these doubts are coming from - in an effort to up my game I'm trying to read more, specifically RIVAs, so I can try and target what is wanted more effectively. And the quality of some of these stories is just so high and polished. Can I really aspire to reach that standard? I've never been on a writing course, I don't belong to any writing groups, don't have a critique partner and I don't belong to any associations. I have absolutely no experience.

Do I really think I can do this? Captain Doubt has not only dropped in for a brief visit, he's put his suitcase in the spare room and has taken up a chair at my table. He's here for the long haul.