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Old 11-25-2012, 11:56 AM   #1
Katallina
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A Couple Questions...

Hey guys!

I'm having a bit of uncertainty about a couple things in the story I'm working on and I'd love some feedback. Thanks!

1: Is this conflict strong enough?

My hero, Clay, is a country singer who is suppose to be recording his third album. Trouble is, his father passed away from a heart attack six months ago while Clay was hundreds of miles away giving a performance and he has not been able to forgive himself for not being there for his dad. He feels like he has really let his family down, because he is always away when anything awful happens. His sister, Julia, is always there--and always takes the opportunity to let Clay know how crappy he is for being absent.

Unable to handle his guilt / sorrow / frustration, he has gone beyond simply blaming himself and actually blames his career and the woman who really helped get it going: song writer Claire Mansing. He figures that without her help he would never have gotten to where he is, and without his family (or anyone else) to love, the wealth, fame, etc. is pointless.

My heroine, Megan Sinclair, is a woman who desperately needs to take control of her life away from her overbearing parents. In an attempt to force her to move back to Toronto, where they can commence plans to try and push her to marry her ex, Wesley, her parents sell the house Megan has been living in while at college. Fortunately (or not...) for Megan, it's purchased by Clay, who is an old buddy of her brother, Mitchel. Mitch convinces Clay to let Megan stay and finish her final semester of college so that she can graduate. But living under the same roof as her favorite country star--whom she has a ridiculous crush on--is going to prove anything but easy.

Megan dreams of being a country singer herself, and has been writing music since she was seventeen as--you guessed it--Claire Mansing. As she gets to know Clay, and comes to appreciate the man behind the music, she is determined to help him find a way to truly live again. But when she learns how much he despises her alter-ego, Megan is torn between owning up to who she is or finding a way to put Claire behind her and pursue her dreams of making music under her own name. Aside from Mitch and her grandma, Clay is the only person who has truly supported Megan in going after her dream, and she is desperate not to lose the love that is growing between them.

2: Is my hero's reaction too nuts?

Clay and Megan work on a song together throughout the book, and she puts it up on her music blog. Her father hears the song and during a concert Clay agrees to give to help Megan's grandma raise money to repair her bakery (Megan will not take direct money because she feels guilt for not telling Clay she is Claire.) he goes up on stage at an intermission and tells everyone he will donate $15,000 to the cause of Clay and CLAIRE sing it together.

When Clay agrees he will sing the song he has no idea who is actually going to walk up on that stage to sing with him. He's pretty shocked when it is Megan. They manage to play and sing the song and he finishes the concert, although he is extremely angry / hurt / annoyed / confused about what has just happened.

While Megan's dad was making his announcement, Clay got a phone call from his sister, Julia, telling him their other sister Blair is in the hospital. Clay doesn't even bother asking what for--he figures if Julia is calling it must be bad. The quickest flight he can book takes off from Toronto at 5 a.m. the next morning and he is debating whether to ask Megan to go with him.

After the concert is done, the two drive back to the house they are sharing in Clay's truck. The silence between them is very tense, with him trying to figure out how he is going to sort out what he feels for Megan and what he feels about Claire. Megan is terrified that he totally hates her, and figures he's going to tell her to get her things and get the hell out the minute they get there.

They get to the house and go inside. They have a pretty huge arguement: why didn't Megan tell him sooner? Anything would have been better then finding out like this. What did he expect--he said he HATED Claire and she was a totally made up person. etc. Plus, all she did was write music. She didn't kill his parents (his mom died while he was on his first tour, so the dad dying was the straw that broke the camel's back) and was not the one who kept him from them, etc.

He notices that Megan's hands look sore from playing the guitar on stage with him (she has something that causes this--carpal tunnel? juvenile arthritis? something else? still researching options. It's important because it's the reason her parents have discouraged her music career.) He tries to make them feel better, ends up kissing them, one thing leads to another, they wind up in bed... (Clay is known to be a bit of a player. It would make sense for him to react this way, since he is attracted to Megan even if he's Really Not Happy with her; meanwhile SHE thinks it means things will be okay between them. She's in for a heck of a shock.)

When his alarm goes off, telling him he needs to get up and catch his flight, he leaves the unsigned deed to the house with her, puts money into her account so she won't run back to her parents (whom he Really despises--her dad, who runs the record label he's signed with, was angry he wanted to cancel tour dates to attend his mother's funeral several years ago.) and walks out of her life, presumably forever.

Obviously things will happen so that they will end up together (and I need to consider, based on what happens, what will *need* to happen for the reader to believe they will be happy.), but have I gone too far and made him too big a jerk? (or too nice with what he does? he has lots of money and only bought the house to find a yearbook and old love letters his dad mentioned in his will--his father's dying wish. Ironically, Clay's father was seeing Megan's mother in high school and she dumped him because he wanted to be a musician, she feared he would fail, she didn't want to continue being poor, and she ended up marrying Megan's father who is wealthy but controlling... so these two are kinda like a second generation that actually works out.)

***

Thanks so much for your time. Have a great day!
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:05 PM   #2
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This is not the genre I usually read or write, but I have some comments (perhaps nitpicking) and suggestions (more like, "what if?") on your basic premise if you're interested.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alleycat View Post
This is not the genre I usually read or write, but I have some comments (perhaps nitpicking) and suggestions (more like, "what if?") on your basic premise if your interested.
Sure. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I'm working on my outline and want to make sure this car has a good engine, for lack of a better explanation, so feel free to share. (Anything is better then my boyfriend's input, which is generally a bored 'eh', *laughs*) I'd rather realize something needs work *now* then discover something at the core is totally broken three drafts in. It can't always be avoided, but sometimes another person can catch things in an idea that might be missed in someone's excitement with it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #4
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These are just casual comments.

First, you might consider adding to Clay's character at the beginning. Instead of just being away for a performance, maybe Clay has always been something of a "wild one". He's usually out drinking, chasing women, and being the typical "wild and crazy musician." That would add to his regrets at being away when his father died. You could also have it that Clay and his father had a falling out about Clay's lifestyle or something like that; that would also add to the guilt and Clay rethinking his life.

By the way, I live in Nashville. I certainly know a few wild and crazy musicians and songwriters and people in the business.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:39 PM   #5
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Second, it doesn't quite ring true to me that Clay would immediately blame Claire. It's not easy to become a country music star. It's a struggle--someone has to really want it. Unless Clay just happened to be discovered by Claire and talked in to becoming a country star (which makes Clay a weak character), then it's odd that he would blame someone besides himself for his choices (although we all do that sort of thing at times). I think you should add more into the mix if you're going to keep this plot point. There are any number of ways to do it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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A nitpicking comment or two: it also doesn't quite ring true to me that a country music star with some success would buy the house that is currently being used by a college student. Most condos and houses purchased for use by college students tend to be on the smaller/cheaper side (unless we're talking very rich parents). You would need a plausible reason for Clay to buy such a house if you keep this detail, I think. Or change it slightly.

It also doesn't quite sound right that they would have bought Megan a house to live in while going to college and now want her to quit school and move back home. It would be another thing if she was living away from home and working as a cocktail waitress. Most parents these days want their daughters to finish college (if not for a career, then for socio-economic reasons).
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:53 PM   #7
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That's brilliant! It adds to the guilt, the need to change, and the reasons Julia is able to seem to smug and condescending. It will also add an edge to him that will make Megan, despite her admiration for his music, be cautious about getting involved with him--and will make him the kind of confident flirty guy, whether he wants to be or not, that will make that kind of caution hard to hold onto. Plus, it makes his initial inability to take responsibility for his own feelings--rather then dumping them on Claire--make a lot more sense and have a much stronger and long reaching foundation. Thanks.

(Crap! Didn't see you had multiple posts. *laughs* *goes to look at the rest*)
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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I used to know Keith Urban before he became such a big star (back in his cocaine days). Your Clay sort of reminds me of him, or maybe just how I'm visualizing the character.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:04 PM   #9
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Second, it doesn't quite ring true to me that Clay would immediately blame Claire. It's not easy to become a country music star. It's a struggle--someone has to really want it. Unless Clay just happened to be discovered by Claire and talked in to becoming a country star (which makes Clay a weak character), then it's odd that he would blame someone besides himself for his choices (although we all do that sort of thing at times). I think you should add more into the mix if you're going to keep this plot point. There are any number of ways to do it.
Clay did really want it. His family was very poor, his father had struggled and failed to achieve this goal in his own time. (Megan's mom was correct about him, although whether the loss of her weakened his resolve is something we cannot know, obviously.)

The reason he sorta latches onto the whole "It's Claire's fault!" thing is that he didn't take off until his voice was paired with her songs. In the early days of his career, song writing was not his gift. (He's gotten better at it, and maybe they've even collaborated using the internet. Not sure how often that happens in country, but I know I've read of artists doing that in pop / rock.) Perhaps, despite not meeting in real life (since Claire is *actually* Megan) the two talked via computer and she was insensitive about his parents / his reactions to their loss / its effect on his music, since (1) singing / playing guitar is her dream and her parents are 'in her way', and (2) she was very young (17, vs. him being 20 / 21 at this point) early in his career. (NOTE: by the time the story happens *she* is 21 / 22. (I need to look at how many years the degree I give her is.)

(Just so we're clear, I'm just adding details about the things you've brought up since I couldn't possibly put everything down in post 1. If this is still weak / needs work / doesn't make sense feel free to let me know. )
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:17 PM   #10
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The reason he sorta latches onto the whole "It's Claire's fault!" thing is that he didn't take off until his voice was paired with her songs. In the early days of his career, song writing was not his gift. (He's gotten better at it, and maybe they've even collaborated using the internet. Not sure how often that happens in country, but I know I've read of artists doing that in pop / rock.) Perhaps, despite not meeting in real life (since Claire is *actually* Megan) the two talked via computer and she was insensitive about his parents / his reactions to their loss / its effect on his music, since (1) singing / playing guitar is her dream and her parents are 'in her way', and (2) she was very young (17, vs. him being 20 / 21 at this point) early in his career.
That sounds very awkward to me, but you will probably improve the details when you're writing the story.

What if . . . instead of actually blaming Claire, Clay just considers the early period in his career a time he wants to forget. During that time he went from being a basically nice guy with a bit of a wild side to a guy living his life in the fast lane. Now that his father is dead, he sees what he was becoming and he doesn't like it. He want to cut all ties to the past.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:24 PM   #11
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A nitpicking comment or two: it also doesn't quite ring true to me that a country music star with some success would buy the house that is currently being used by a college student. Most condos and houses purchased for use by college students tend to be on the smaller/cheaper side (unless we're talking very rich parents). You would need a plausible reason for Clay to buy such a house if you keep this detail, I think. Or change it slightly.
The house was part of the original idea, where this was going to be a light ghost story with the father haunting his family's old mansion where the heroine's mother broke off their engagement and returned the ring he bought her.

While I've gotten rid of the ghost, I still have the ring, an old yearbook and a dear john letter that he wants his son to find. The reason he wanted the house bought back was because when he lost the house to gambling, alcohol and chasing music (and somehow getting scammed / conned) it was his ex-fiancee and her new (rich) husband who bought the place. (Megan's father is a jerk; he bought the house for squat, totally out of spite, knowing Clay's dad had no money.)

When Megan rebels against her parents' plans (they want her to marry Wesley, the son of a rival record producer who just went into retirement and handed his business over to his son) and decides to go to college, they already have the house in the town she is going to school in and figure her being there is better then her being in a dorm. (They think the idea of her sharing a room is tacky and beneath them.)

(As always: make sense, or no? I'm just filling in the blanks of what I 'have' here.)

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It also doesn't quite sound right that they would have bought Megan a house to live in while going to college and now want her to quit school and move back home. It would be another thing if she was living away from home and working as a cocktail waitress. Most parents these days want their daughters to finish college (if not for a career, then for socio-economic reasons).
Clay buys the house because it was something his father asked him to do in his will, and at the moment, I'm pretty sure Clay would've stood on his head and spit jellybeans if the guy asked him to. He is also encouraged in this by Megan's brother, who was one of the people who convinced the label to sign him. If anyone else gets the house, Mitchel knows Megan won't have anywhere to go and will be forced to do what their parents want. (They are extremely old fashioned and don't think she should be thinking about working--her mom is a total home maker and can't understand why Megan wants anything else. (Remember, she broke off an engagement because the guy she was going to marry planned to do something she didn't view as normal / stable.

(Is that just too convenient? Essentially, they want to use Megan as a tool to merge their label and their rival's into a single company and figure if she marries him that will happen. She and Wes dated in high school and she broke things off with him once everything for her schooling was secure, because she is afraid he is too much like her father and she wants nothing to do with that. This ticked her parents off, but she's played things boringly safe until Clay showed up. She wants control of her own life and they don't want to give that to her.)

BTW that is interesting (albeit also sad) about Keith Urban. It's interesting you mention him; I have some of his songs on the playlist I listen to when working on this.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #12
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Hey, that's a valid point. Even thinking he'd want to cut ties if he found out she and Claire were the same person would create the necessary conflict, and would allow the rest of the plot to work properly. For Megan, being around him goes from meeting someone she idolized / crushed on in her late teens, practically as a character, to realizing he is a man with good points, warts and all, to being very close to him and him becoming someone who has given her strength and courage to create a life for herself, rather then feeling trapped.

Not to mention that if at some point he told Claire he doesn't want anything to do with her, it's going to be even MORE awkward for Megan when he shows up... plus it means she would be knowingly deceiving him the entire time, which is going to make him Very Unhappy when he finds out. (And since she (a) likes him, and (b) needs to stay if she wants to finish her degree, she has motives necessary to do this.)
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:47 PM   #13
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Nothing to add other than the comments above are great and the story really sounds interesting.
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:58 PM   #14
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The reason he sorta latches onto the whole "It's Claire's fault!" thing is that he didn't take off until his voice was paired with her songs. In the early days of his career, song writing was not his gift.
My question is: If Claire's songs have made Clay such a huge star, why isn't Megan rolling in royalties? how come she still needs her parents to buy her a house?

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Perhaps, despite not meeting in real life (since Claire is *actually* Megan) the two talked via computer and she was insensitive about his parents / his reactions to their loss / its effect on his music,
I like the idea of them having an online relationship where they hate each other, and an in person relationship where they're attracted (kinda like You've Got Mail in reverse) BUT be careful of making Claire seem too much of a bitch. We still have to like Megan and want her and Clay to get together, but if she's mean enough to actually JUSTIFY him hating her, we're never gonna want that.

I'm still not sure how you can get Clay to blame Claire for his failings without making one or other (or both) of them seem like a total jerk...
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:47 PM   #15
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Hey guys!
My heroine, Megan Sinclair, is a woman who desperately needs to take control of her life away from her overbearing parents. In an attempt to force her to move back to Toronto, where they can commence plans to try and push her to marry her ex, Wesley, her parents sell the house Megan has been living in while at college. Fortunately (or not...) for Megan, it's purchased by Clay, who is an old buddy of her brother, Mitchel. Mitch convinces Clay to let Megan stay and finish her final semester of college so that she can graduate. But living under the same roof as her favorite country star--whom she has a ridiculous crush on--is going to prove anything but easy.

Megan dreams of being a country singer herself, and has been writing music since she was seventeen as--you guessed it--Claire Mansing.

This is where my suspension of disbelief gets stretched. Up until now she sounds like some gauche, college wallflower who has crushes on country stars and dreams of making it big in the music industry... then you tell us she's the songwriter for your country superstar. Doesn't that mean she's already made it pretty big? I just don't buy that this naive, parentally controlled girl is secretly Claire Mansing (BTW - that's a cheesy pun if ever I heard one) who's been a pretty major part of Clay's career for years. I can kind of understand the crush still (maybe she liked him before he was famous, and has been writing songs almost as love letters to him) but not that she's still dependent on her parents for a house and can't make her own decisions about her future.

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Originally Posted by Katallina View Post
Hey guys!As she gets to know Clay, and comes to appreciate the man behind the music, she is determined to help him find a way to truly live again. But when she learns how much he despises her alter-ego, Megan is torn between owning up to who she is or finding a way to put Claire behind her and pursue her dreams of making music under her own name. Aside from Mitch and her grandma, Clay is the only person who has truly supported Megan in going after her dream, and she is desperate not to lose the love that is growing between them.
This seems like manufactured conflict. In order for there to be any tension between them, he has to hate Claire. But that makes no sense. He wanted to be a star, she made him a star. If anything, it should be the other way round and she should resent him - she wanted to make it big in music, her songs have made him a huge star, yet she still seems to be struggling to support herself and reliant on her parents for money. So why does he have the monopoly on feeling hard done by?

I'd like to see the story play out this way: he (or his agent/record label/whatever) has been cheating her of royalties (perhaps she doesn't know that), and then he buys the house to hole up and wallow in depression after the death of his dad. At first she's star struck, but as she gets to know him, and finds out about the royalties she's owed, she realises how ungrateful he is for everything she's done for him and his career. So she (as Claire) refuses to continue their music partnership. Just see how long his career lasts without her. Clay then realises how much he needs her, and..... yadda yadda, with Megan's help he comes to accept his life choices and make peace with his past, then she (as Claire) agrees to write for him again, because he's cleaned up his act and quit being a selfish jerk (sidenote: maybe the songs have hidden messages for him? First they were love letters, then they were about some ungrateful jerk screwing her over, then when she starts writing for him again, there's something about second chances?) This would have more tension if he actually fell for Claire, not Megan. He sees Megan as a friend, but through her he's come to realise he's in love with Claire and the heartfelt lyrics she sends him. Then... yadda yadda, via whatever mechanism you like (the charity concert could work) she decides to reveal she actually is Claire, and..... HEA

EDIT: How awesome an ending would it be if their duet went viral, and they turned into the Next Big Thing in country music, like June Carter and Johnny Cash? Just a thought, hehe

Maybe my version is too simplistic, but I feel you have to both simplify and strengthen your core plot, because at the moment it's too cluttered with twists and complications but just not ringing true.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:03 PM   #16
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My question is: If Claire's songs have made Clay such a huge star, why isn't Megan rolling in royalties? how come she still needs her parents to buy her a house?
Yes, this. I don't know how much songwriters make but I'd imagine she'd be doing at least decently well.


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I'm still not sure how you can get Clay to blame Claire for his failings without making one or other (or both) of them seem like a total jerk...

And this, too.

Here's a thought or two. I apologize, but I think Clay seems like rather a shallow and silly person; he's blaming the person who wrote his hit songs, really? Not the label who forced him to be so focused on his career or refused to let him skip tour dates or performances or take time off from recording (I know you said he hates her dad; why is that not part of the conflict here, and why did he remain with that label?) but the poor innocent person to whom he owes his success, who did nothing but help him? I really apologize for sounding harsh, but what a ridiculous baby. This is like a thief who then blames the person he stole from because he was able to take a vacation using their money, met a girl there, slept with her, and got her pregnant. I can't see anyone so childish and desperate to blame others for his own choices as heroic, sorry.

If Clay hates Claire so much why does he continue to collaborate on a song with her throughout the book?

And I admit this "I'll give 15k if the songwriter sings it, too," (how does anyone know the songwriter can even carry a tune? Why in the world would anyone care if the songwriter shows up to sing--I can't see audiences being all excited about this) thing sounds really contrived to me, as well. Does her father know she's Claire? If so, why in the world would he do such a thing? What kind of father thinks, "I know, I'll set up a situation where my college-student daughter will be publicly humiliated and have her privacy destroyed?" Or "I know, it'll be awesome to destroy my daughter's friendship AND totally further the musical career I don't want her to have?" I get that he's a jerk, seeing as how he sold her house out from under her, but who would go along with that?

Also, what is wrong with Megan that she refuses to help her grandmother because she's been keeping a secret from a friend of hers? Why will she allow Clay to hold a concert for her grandmother but won't just accept the money from her father--who is at least her grandmother's son-in-law if not her son? How is Megan even involved in that; isn't that between Megan's father and grandmother?

Why will Megan then accept the house and money from Clay after the concert with nary a qualm?

Why does Megan's father, who is presumably pretty wealthy since he runs a record label with at least one big star, need to have that star hold a concert to help repair a bakery--how does he not have the money to repair it himself? Why would audiences accept the idea of a wealthy family making them donate to help repair a bakery when they could afford it themselves? Just how much will these repairs cost? It's a bakery, not an elementary school or life-saving transplant surgery that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If Megan's father can afford to donate 15k why doesn't he just hand that money to his mother/-in-law, then, without making people perform for him? And is there no insurance on this bakery?


I don't want to tell you how to write your story, and again, I am really sorry for sounding so harsh. I really don't want to be hurtful or upset you. All of this may be explained in the story and I'm not saying I don't think there's any way it can be. But I do think as explained above this is really, really contrived.

How about this? Use the money thing. Megan's been writing these songs and not getting the money she should for them. So she decides she's not going to write any more songs for Clay. That would be, IMO, a more realistic and sensible reason for Clay to be upset with Claire, and it would also give Megan a bit more stand-up personality, because as described above she just seems kind of "Oh I love him I'll do anything for him why doesn't he like me?" if you know what I mean--there's no real conflict on her side.

Or maybe because of the way her parents control her she's going to sell her newest song to a rival artist/label so she can have more control over her life and career, and Clay gets very upset about that. Maybe he even offers to pay for the song out of his own pocket but she refuses, but of course she won't explain to him why. Maybe that gets them into an argument where Things Are Said.


Like I said I don't want to tell you how to write your book. And I could be way off base here. But it seems to me you can come up with a much better conflict, and much better reasons for the characters to end up on stage together.

I really hope I have not hurt your feelings. That was not at all my intention.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:31 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
Here's a thought or two. I apologize, but I think Clay seems like rather a shallow and silly person; he's blaming the person who wrote his hit songs, really? [...] I can't see anyone so childish and desperate to blame others for his own choices as heroic, sorry.
^This. Seems Clay's motivation is pretty much the biggest problem for most people.

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And I admit this "I'll give 15k if the songwriter sings it, too," (how does anyone know the songwriter can even carry a tune? Why in the world would anyone care if the songwriter shows up to sing--I can't see audiences being all excited about this) thing sounds really contrived to me, as well. Does her father know she's Claire? If so, why in the world would he do such a thing?
Exactly the same thought(S) occurred to me, but my post was already getting too long so I didn't mention it

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Why does Megan's father, who is presumably pretty wealthy since he runs a record label with at least one big star, need to have that star hold a concert to help repair a bakery--how does he not have the money to repair it himself? Why would audiences accept the idea of a wealthy family making them donate to help repair a bakery when they could afford it themselves? Just how much will these repairs cost? It's a bakery, not an elementary school or life-saving transplant surgery that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I didn't even catch that one, but I'd just like to say - what a thoroughly bloody good point. Huge charity concerts tend to be in support of really important and wide reaching causes - like natural disasters, cancer, AIDs etc. A massive country music star isn't likely to give up a paying gig and risk the ridicule of his fans to come on stage in support of grandma's bakery.

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How about this? Use the money thing. Megan's been writing these songs and not getting the money she should for them. So she decides she's not going to write any more songs for Clay. That would be, IMO, a more realistic and sensible reason for Clay to be upset with Claire.
Stacia, we totally had the same idea

Kat, perhaps that should tell you something...
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:07 PM   #18
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If anything, I think you might have too much conflict for genre romance - how long are you estimating this book will be? If all that's happening in 80,000 words, that doesn't leave a lot of room for building a relationship as well. As a romance reader, it's those moments that I love the most, and I don't see enough of them in the outline as posted.

A few questions:
1. How did they meet? Through intermediaries (they always make good villains - the misguided agent or manager), or did he stumble onto her blog by himself? The latter is probably more realistic and requires less explanation.

2. Why are the yearbook and love letters in the house? Did the families previously live in this town? But now they've all moved to Toronto?

3. Do you know what their objectives are?

I have more thoughts, but let's start with those.
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Old 11-27-2012, 01:28 AM   #19
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Not quite my genre either, but you may want to look into the big lawsuit that went on between LeeAnn Rimes and her father -- from what I remember of it, there are some similarities here.

What it sounds like to me (from reading all the posts) is that Megan has been writing and selling songs since she was 17 or so, and Clay's career is based on her songwriting. BUT, her parents own the record company Clay has signed with, is that right? So it could stand to reason that since she's underage, and because of their control of both her and Clay, that they would be keeping the royalties from record sales.

I could see that part of it working out . . . but why keep Megan's songwriting a secret?
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:57 AM   #20
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2. Why are the yearbook and love letters in the house? Did the families previously live in this town? But now they've all moved to Toronto?

I wondered that, too. How does he even know that stuff will still be in the house? And if he's friends with Megan's brother, why not just say, "Hey, man, before he died my dad mentioned this yearbook of his that your mom had. D'you think it's still there? He wanted me to have it." (Why, BTW? His dying wish is that his son have an old yearbook and some love letters he either wrote to or received from a woman not his son's mother?)


I had another thought on this, btw:

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How about this? Use the money thing. Megan's been writing these songs and not getting the money she should for them. So she decides she's not going to write any more songs for Clay. That would be, IMO, a more realistic and sensible reason for Clay to be upset with Claire, and it would also give Megan a bit more stand-up personality, because as described above she just seems kind of "Oh I love him I'll do anything for him why doesn't he like me?" if you know what I mean--there's no real conflict on her side.

Or maybe because of the way her parents control her she's going to sell her newest song to a rival artist/label so she can have more control over her life and career, and Clay gets very upset about that. Maybe he even offers to pay for the song out of his own pocket but she refuses, but of course she won't explain to him why. Maybe that gets them into an argument where Things Are Said.
Since it seems you want Clay's family, and having missed so much, to be a big issue for him, how about if he's supposed to get a sizable bonus for, say, his tenth number one single, or if/when he has a platinum single, or something like that? And with that bonus he's vowed to take some time off? Or he's going to use it to do something charitable in his father's name? Or he's been promised he can get out of his contract when he delivers that tenth hit, or whatever other achievement?

So when Claire refuses to give him the song he knows will be that big hit that will allow him to spend time with his family...he has a real reason to be upset, especially since she won't tell him why. That's really her keeping him from his family, you know?

Just a thought.


Like I said I don't want to tell you how to write your book. And I could be way off base here. But it seems to me you can come up with a much better conflict, and much better reasons for the characters to end up on stage together.

I really hope I have not hurt your feelings. That was not at all my intention.[/QUOTE]
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:41 AM   #21
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I wondered that, too. How does he even know that stuff will still be in the house? And if he's friends with Megan's brother, why not just say, "Hey, man, before he died my dad mentioned this yearbook of his that your mom had. D'you think it's still there? He wanted me to have it." (Why, BTW? His dying wish is that his son have an old yearbook and some love letters he either wrote to or received from a woman not his son's mother?)


I had another thought on this, btw:



Since it seems you want Clay's family, and having missed so much, to be a big issue for him, how about if he's supposed to get a sizable bonus for, say, his tenth number one single, or if/when he has a platinum single, or something like that? And with that bonus he's vowed to take some time off? Or he's going to use it to do something charitable in his father's name? Or he's been promised he can get out of his contract when he delivers that tenth hit, or whatever other achievement?

So when Claire refuses to give him the song he knows will be that big hit that will allow him to spend time with his family...he has a real reason to be upset, especially since she won't tell him why. That's really her keeping him from his family, you know?

Just a thought.


Like I said I don't want to tell you how to write your book. And I could be way off base here. But it seems to me you can come up with a much better conflict, and much better reasons for the characters to end up on stage together.

I really hope I have not hurt your feelings. That was not at all my intention.
I'm working on my response to everyone. Just so you know. Should be up soon. (Got a lot of stuff to type.) I actually realized the problem you just brought up about an hour ago, though. The letter that is with the yearbook (or should it be a photo album of family, etc. that included the father and his ex-fiancee?) also included the engagement ring he gave her. Simon (Clay's dad) wanted to give him something of value from his past that could continue into the future. The ring, yearbook and letter are hidden in a secret compartment in the floor of Simon's old room, and to open it you need a key. (Which Clay has.) Clay's father did not tell Clay what is hidden in the will because he did not want Julia and Blair fighting with him over the ring (both like jewelry). He sort of hopes it will be a kick in the pants and hint at his hopes that his son will someday settle down.

Love your idea about needing that next single. Makes things very manageable. Thanks.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:28 AM   #22
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Hey guys!

Thanks for all of the great feedback. There is a ton of helpful stuff in here.

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I like the idea of them having an online relationship where they hate each other, and an in person relationship where they're attracted (kinda like You've Got Mail in reverse) BUT be careful of making Claire seem too much of a bitch. We still have to like Megan and want her and Clay to get together, but if she's mean enough to actually JUSTIFY him hating her, we're never gonna want that.
I like this, too. And if I combine it with some of the suggestions later in the thread, it makes sense and doesn't necessarily have to make Claire the bad guy. I've never seen You've Got Mail--I should probably watch that so that I don't echo something that's been done.

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EDIT: How awesome an ending would it be if their duet went viral, and they turned into the Next Big Thing in country music, like June Carter and Johnny Cash? Just a thought, hehe
Yes, this is my intent for their HEA. I know that with a musician, the biggest hurdle for a believable happy ending is the issue of distance or competing careers, so bringing them together this way, especially with their history and interests, totally makes sense. Also (opinions welcome) should it be what they sing at the concert that goes online and goes crazy?

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Why does Megan's father, who is presumably pretty wealthy since he runs a record label with at least one big star, need to have that star hold a concert to help repair a bakery--how does he not have the money to repair it himself? Why would audiences accept the idea of a wealthy family making them donate to help repair a bakery when they could afford it themselves? Just how much will these repairs cost? It's a bakery, not an elementary school or life-saving transplant surgery that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If Megan's father can afford to donate 15k why doesn't he just hand that money to his mother/-in-law, then, without making people perform for him? And is there no insurance on this bakery?
When I intially started working on this, I was trying to keep things light. But I think with regard to this aspect, everyone who is saying there needs to be a bigger reason for a concert is right. It could in some way effect Megan's grandma, which is why she asks Clay to help or why he offers (not sure which yet). FWIW, by the time the concert rolls around Clay is NOT with Megan's dad's label anymore--he ends the contract with Clay earlier in the book. So his presence made no sense anyway. (Gah, how did I not see this?)

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How about this? Use the money thing. Megan's been writing these songs and not getting the money she should for them. So she decides she's not going to write any more songs for Clay. That would be, IMO, a more realistic and sensible reason for Clay to be upset with Claire, and it would also give Megan a bit more stand-up personality, because as described above she just seems kind of "Oh I love him I'll do anything for him why doesn't he like me?" if you know what I mean--there's no real conflict on her side.

Or maybe because of the way her parents control her she's going to sell her newest song to a rival artist/label so she can have more control over her life and career, and Clay gets very upset about that. Maybe he even offers to pay for the song out of his own pocket but she refuses, but of course she won't explain to him why. Maybe that gets them into an argument where Things Are Said.
This is 110% better then what I had. I am SO glad I decided to get feedback on the idea, rather then going ahead with my draft. Jay (my boyfriend) and I knew *something* was off, but we couldn't put our fingers on what it was. Having something this crucial pointed out After the first draft would have been a nightmare. Seeing it here has likely saved me weeks of revisions. (At least about this, and fixing the core / engine / w/e of a story is a big, huge pain. (Necesary, but not a fun experience.) )

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I really hope I have not hurt your feelings.
No harm done. You've been a tremendous help. Thanks.

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1. How did they meet?
Megan and Clay meet at the beginning of the book, as he is driving up to his new house with his friend, PR manager Mitchel Sinclair (Megan's older brother). His first glance of Megan is that she is changing something about the house--and Clay isn't sure he likes what she is doing. (In my mind, she is painting window edging or the siding on the house sky blue, but this may be unfeasable if I keep the house a mansion--it would be too big for her and a ladder. Also, I know it's crazy for one person to be up on a ladder alone and yes, Mitch and Clay will be saying something.) From there, they talk her into coming down and she learns about the stuff about the house over lunch. She is ready to get up and leave--she figures that's why Mitch is there--but the two have cooked up some kind of bet for if she does that will make Mitch look bad and tick her dad off if she does. Megan can be a huge peacekeeper--the choice to quit providing music for her dad's label, and especially for Clay, would have been a difficult call for her--so she feels kinda stuck.

As for Clay and Claire, they "met" / discovered each other because before he made it as a musician, Clay ended up going to school for business and had Mitch as a dorm-mate. (The parents thought it would be a GREAT opportunity for him. Funny how that works, huh?) He heard Clay play and thought he was pretty good, but Mitch is no music genius. Not wanting to unwittingly present his dad with a demo that turned out to be crap, he had Megan listen to it. She thought Clay's *sound* was good, but that his actual *music* wasn't up to par. She gave Mitch one of her pieces and had him ask Clay to play it and that was the demo they gave Jon (Mitch and Megan's father.) She didn't want her name attached to it, though: Clay looked really cute, was one of Mitch's buddies, etc. and Megan didn't want to embarrass herself, so she made up a pen name for herself and it sorta stuck. It launched Clay as a singer and Megan (Claire) as a song writer.

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2. Why are the yearbook and love letters in the house? Did the families previously live in this town? But now they've all moved to Toronto?
When Megan's mom sent the letter and ring back to Clay's father (or handed it to him, left it for him, w/e. Not quite sure how she did it yet, since that ring is pretty nice--his family had money before he screwed his life up.) he stuck the ring, letter and yearbook (which has pics of them together--or should it be a photo album?) into this compartment in the floor of the bedroom he lived in as a boy / teen. It's actually the room that Megan has set up as her own room while living at the house, and the only reason they find it is because they put in a better bed for Megan, which means they had to dismantle the old one revealing it. (Q's: Should Clay know where the compartment is from reading the will? Should he ask Megan before doing this? Or let him do it and have her be torn between annoyed because he invaded her space and secretly glad because the new bed is really nice? Is that too stalker-y? (Potentially an invalid question--I spend a lot of time writing YA so thinking that way is habit.) )
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:29 AM   #23
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3. Do you know what their objectives are?
Starting / Surface Goals:

Megan: She wants to get rid of her alias, Claire, and take credit for what she writes. She also wants to pursue her dreams of being a singer as well as a writer.

Clay: To write and release the hit single that will allow him to leave Jon (Megan & Mitch's dad's) label with all of the requirements of his contract fulfilled.

Internal Problems / Goals:

Megan: To gain control over her own life. Her father set up a contract when he bought her music that has channelled all her earnings into a fund that she can't access until she is 25. He didn't want Claire having access to tons of money that he had no control over and he's grown ever more weary of this as he's watched / heard about what has happened to Clay during his career. Clay's career is actually a big part of the reason he and Megan's mom have discouraged the singing / performing aspect of her dreams.

Clay: The last thing Clay ever said to his dad was that he needed to butt out and mind his own business (or something to that tune.) They had a huge arguement about Clay's drinking. Simon battled alcoholism and won, and he'd be damned if he'd sit quietly and let his son end up where he was if he could help it. In my current notes, I have him talking to Claire about his 'nosy' father and she's the one who initially suggests Simon should butt out. Of course, Claire / Megan had no comprehension how serious Clay's problem actually was, and she was projecting her frustration over what her parents do to her when she said that. So Clay is frustrated at Claire (and himself) for taking her advice, and he feels a ton of guilt that the last thing he ever said to something was rude / mean / etc.

Romantic Conflict:

Megan: (1) Megan's family have really shoved their desire for her to marry Wes down her throat, to the point where she doesn't want to get involved with guys for fear that if she dates anyone else they could either cause trouble or go through the whole "Marry him!" thing again.

(2) Megan feels a ton of guilt over everything happening as Claire and is torn over whether--and how-- to tell Clay the truth. She knows there can't be anything between them if she holds onto her secret.

Clay: (1) Initially, Clay sees Megan as a star struck fan and his friend's baby sister. He finds her interest in him kinda funny and doesn't take her, on the whole, too seriously. He doesn't see how a relationship with someone who liked him as a fan could really work out seriously, although he does find her cute and has fun flirting with her.

(2) As Clay gets to know Megan better he realizes that he thinks she is really great and that there is potential for something real with her. However, being with Megan long term would mean dealing with Jon Sinclair in even more aspects of his life. Clay knows how pushy Jon is and he isn't sure he could handle what being related to the man would be like. (Plus there's the fact that he terminates Clay's contract with the record label, on the surface for failure to produce his third record (or whatever) in a timely manner, but really because Clay refuses to ditch Megan. (Jon doesn't think Clay is worthy of his daughter.)

Final / "Black" conflicts:

Megan: When Clay packs up and disappears the night after the concert and Megan's confession, Megan is totally devastated. But she is determined to get on with her life and not curl up into a little ball and die.

She stands up to her father about her parents continued presure to marry Wes. She tells them how she feels about what they've done with her earnings as Claire and she makes if official that she isn't writing for them (or as Claire) anymore. Some of the songs she has written since meeting Clay have sold under her own name, plus she has the stuff Clay leaves her (which he does, despite being angry, because he thinks the way that she's been treated is screwed up.) They accuse her of being ungrateful, threaten to fight to keep her money / inheritance / something from her(?) etc. and she tells them they can have it and that they are welcome in her life again once they can treat her with the same level of respect she has always shown them. It has to be a two way street.

When Clay starts calling, e-mailing, etc. and telling her he made a big mistake, she does everything in her power to ignore him. But he gets an offer from Wes that if Megan will agree, Wes' label (which is bigger then Megan's father's, and by this point Wes and Megan are friends who respect each other--I may well give Wes his own story eventually, if that tells you anything; obviously a decent guy.) will pick them up as a duo because the song they did at the concert has gone viral and people want more.

When Megan keeps being stubborn, Wes gets her to come in and tells her this himself. Clay walks in and she struggles between everything going on--her attraction to him, the fact that she could have the beginnings of a good music career, etc.

I'm still working on exactly how they will have that moment that truly 'fixes' things, but you get where this is going, I'm sure.

Clay: When Clay learns the truth about Megan / Claire he is shocked. How can this sweet, innocent person be the brilliant songwriter responsible for the foundation of his career? Why didn't she ever tell him who she really was? How can he trust her when she's stayed with him, written with him, sang with him, slept with him, etc. knowing on some level that he is mad at her. (Technically at Claire, but still...)

He goes to Alberta, finds out that the emergancy is that Blair broke her arm / leg / something. Blair asks him where his girlfriend is and when he looks confused she shows him the footage from the concert on her phone and comments that Clay and the girl (Megan) look really cozy. With some prodding, Clay tells Blair what is going on and she tells him he's an idiot and that if he cares about Megan he needs to get his butt back there and fix things with her.

Julia comes in and tells Blair to quit trying to make Clay like her. (Blair has poor taste in men; she has a broken limb because of an abusive ex.) She says that no way in hell should one of Clay's groupies / fan girls, etc. (I'm hearing, in my head, "Groupies? Me? That's ridiculous!") come before family. Clay gets mad and tells Julia not to call Megan that and Blair again urges him not to worry; or if he must, get Megan and come back.

From here, the stories merge as described above.

***

Anyway, I think that covers everything, when added to my shorter post earlier. Thanks again for all of the awesome feedback, guys. it's going to take some time to sort out all the facts and create a stronger outline (and I'll likely wait to see what is said about all this) but it's looking a lot better.

In Short:

1. Megan's parents had her sign a contract that is blocking her money.

2. Megan refuses to write anymore for Clay because it's not doing her any good, and he doesn't like that because he needs another hit and writing with her is the best way to get one for him. (Need to decide the specifics of that idea. Really like it, though.)

3. I need a much larger cause then grandma's bakery for a concert to be held. Maybe he was already planning on helping with something in the area when he decided to move there? Or maybe it somehow relates to grandma? Needs more thought, but cannot stay as is.

4. The name Claire Mansing needs to be changed. I was trying to get a name using the letters in Megan's name, but my attempt at "clever" has ended up lame.

5. Claire and Clay were friends online and now don't get along because of reasons 1 and 2.

I think those are the major points. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to look at this and for giving such great feedback. You've all been a tremendous help!
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:07 PM   #24
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I like the idea of the concert being something for the region that he is moving to - maybe there was a natural disaster or a catastrophic event (tornado, flood, drought that affected farmers, collapsed office building, fire in a historic district of town...) - if it's one of the last two, maybe make it personal by the grandma's bakery being affected, but honestly, not all romance readers like family stuff - it detracts from the h/H. So a balance is necessary.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:08 AM   #25
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Coming late to the game, but I think there is WAY too much going on. Too many subplots to the point that even the main plot ends up feeling convoluted.

Break it down to the conflict between Clay and his family, and the conflict between Megan and her family. There is more than enough to support a book there with out adding ghost stories, bakery repairs, and ex-boyfriends (what parent encourages their child to marry at such a young age?)

I think her dad holding her royalties is an awesome idea as is Clay's ambition to break from his record label. Perhaps her father is well aware of her ambitions and is eager to keep her tied to the record label permanently, so he creates a cycle of dependancy. I still don't understand where you are--in Nashville or Toronto? Unless there is a burgeoning record industry in Toronto, I don't understand the point. It makes more sense to me that maybe the family was based in Nashville, she's in school there, but they up and move to LA or NYC to start a new label or open up another division, and in an attempt to strong arm her to coming with, they sell the house. Even though she has a secret desire to be a singer/song writer, she doesn't want to be under her dad's thumb, so she's studying something entirely inappropriate. Thus her dad wants to force her to move and work for him.

Anyhoo... I just think there is SO much you can do with the basic family dynamics and the story be amazing. Your other ideas may be a better fit for another story. Good luck!
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