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JustRite
10-26-2005, 07:09 AM
Hi,
I am thinking of attempting NaNoWriMo and am thinking of finally writing a story that has been in my head for some time now.
I would love a plot critique.

Hero/heroine have some previous history. Hero has made it big and has dated all the svelte, debutante types and is bored out of his wits with them. He decides that he should have a baby and eliminate the wife part. He runs into the heroine and proposes that they have a baby together. When she hesitates, he tries to convince her that having a baby is something she always wanted and since there isn't a guy in the picture he is her best bet. She agrees to it against her better judgement. She has some complications and he has her move into his house where he takes care of her. However, when he proposes marriage saying they already have a baby, she goes away. She goes into labor and the doctor sends for the father. Mom and daughter are well. Afterwards, she comes to know from one of the nurses that her "husband" asked her doctor to save her life over her unborn child's when they ran into complications. She realizes he loves her too and alls well that ends well.


Please don't hold back!

katee
10-26-2005, 04:40 PM
I do think you've got the start of a great idea :) However, I don't understand some of the motivations of the characters, so I have a couple of questions:

Why doesn't the heroine want to be with the guy - but is convinced to have a baby with him? Maybe she has some other reason for wanting a child, but not marriage?

Why does the guy decide to have a baby but not a wife?

Why does she flee the marriage proposal?

Why don't they just get together in the beginning of the book?

I don't think any of these problems are insurmountable - I think maybe you need to explore who your characters are and their motivations a bit better. You also might want to make sure you've got enough conflict to last for an entire novel.

Susan Gable
10-26-2005, 05:56 PM
Hi,
I am thinking of attempting NaNoWriMo and am thinking of finally writing a story that has been in my head for some time now.
I would love a plot critique.

Hero/heroine have some previous history. Hero has made it big and has dated all the svelte, debutante types and is bored out of his wits with them. He decides that he should have a baby and eliminate the wife part. He runs into the heroine and proposes that they have a baby together. When she hesitates, he tries to convince her that having a baby is something she always wanted and since there isn't a guy in the picture he is her best bet. She agrees to it against her better judgement. She has some complications and he has her move into his house where he takes care of her. However, when he proposes marriage saying they already have a baby, she goes away. She goes into labor and the doctor sends for the father. Mom and daughter are well. Afterwards, she comes to know from one of the nurses that her "husband" asked her doctor to save her life over her unborn child's when they ran into complications. She realizes he loves her too and alls well that ends well.


Please don't hold back!

LOL - Sounds very much like my first novel, The Baby Plan, complete with the original ending that I'd intended (that the black moment involved the hero choosing the life of his wife over the baby he'd wanted so badly - though, of course, this being a romance novel, and needing the HEA, the baby would also have survived.) However, my very 3-D heroine didn't like that plan at all, and she came up with a better plan, since my book turned out to be HER story instead of his. <G>

So, anyway, part of my point is that there are no new plots and it's your characters that are either going to let you pull this story off or not. Do you have a good sense of who they are before you go into NaNoWriMo? Why would she agree to do this?

Also, my biggest suggestion for you is CONFLICT. What is that's keeping these people apart? The baby is what brings them together, but what is keeping them apart? He wants a baby, but not a wife, but why would he want to have a baby with someone who is going to want that baby, too? Wouldn't he be looking for a woman who will willingly walk away from the baby?

Remember, in a romance novel, it's a given that your characters are going to end up together - so you must TORTURE them on the way to the HEA. <G> They aren't looking for love, but it happens. Conflict is all the stuff that gets in the way, and I'm not just talking about external stuff, but more importanly, the internal stuff.

To use an example I'm familiar with, in my book that's similar to the story you're outlining here, my hero was looking for a surrogate. He didn't want a wife, just a baby. Conflict came up in the form of my heroine - she was an illegitimate child herself, and she wouldn't carry a baby for him unless he married her. Of course, once he finally agreed to that, it only led to further complications for them, not the least of which was the messy fact that they were falling in love with each other. He didn't WANT to love a woman who could plan to walk out on her child - his mother had done that to him. (That was something the hero and heroine had in common.) So, he wants her to have his baby, but he sure as hell doesn't want to LOVE her.

Her internal conflict had to do with her self-eteem issues. The primary external manifestation of that was the hero's brother, who was a cop, and he didn't like the heroine at all. (She has a criminal record.)

Are you familiar with the book GMC: Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon? (Available at www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com (http://www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com/) ) That book is AWESOME! It's one I always recommend. Honestly, without the GMC concept (and Deb does an incredible job of making the concepts easy to grasp) I don't think I'd have sold my first (or second, etc.) book.

One other thing I'd recommend before you start writing is know your market for this story. What romance market specifically are you planning this for? I ask because there are other considerations you'll want to plan for. For example, as you can see, a story like this might work for Superromance, the line I write for. (Obviously, since they bought mine.) But, if you want to do that, then you want to keep in mind the word count (80-85K) as you write the story. Also, Supers are big on secondary characters and community, so you'll want that in there. And they don't like very wealthy characters, so the "made it big" and dating debutantes wouldn't work for that line.

However, if you wanted to write it as say, a Desire, you'll have to keep in mind that those are on the sexier side, and also they're very short, 55K, so you have to limit/control the secondary characters & plotlines.

Also, be free to allowing the characters to take control of the story, for example, how my heroine changed the entire end of my book. <G>

Does any of that help at all?

Susan G.

veinglory
10-26-2005, 08:53 PM
I love the resolution to the story. This sime like a nice example of a modern 'forced marraige' plot -- these days with consent ;) I say, go for it. Just plan so the word count comes out right, write like a crazed beast in NANO and deal with the rest in editing ;)

JustRite
10-27-2005, 12:23 AM
I love the resolution to the story. This sime like a nice example of a modern 'forced marraige' plot -- these days with consent ;) I say, go for it. Just plan so the word count comes out right, write like a crazed beast in NANO and deal with the rest in editing ;)

It is - I mean a forced marriage plot - I am attempting to write something in the Harlequin Romance style. I just wanted to know if at least my plot had some strength to it so I can just get in there and get my hands dirty. Reason I settled on her having a baby is I just had one and I can describe her feelings and what she physically undergoes very well. Yay - wordcount! Just kind of a write what you know thing.

Thanks for your input!

JustRite
10-27-2005, 12:31 AM
Why doesn't the heroine want to be with the guy - but is convinced to have a baby with him? Maybe she has some other reason for wanting a child, but not marriage?

The guy came back from the past out of the blue and while she wants to explore any possibility of a relationship, she isnt in love with him when he walks into her life for a second time. She has always wanted a husband and baby but sees that the chances of that happening are slim to none - no boyfriend or prospects in her life and the bilogical clock is ticking. She wants at least the baby if not the whole package.

Why does the guy decide to have a baby but not a wife?
He is bored with women easily but wants to have an heir to his business.


Why does she flee the marriage proposal?
because she thinks he doesnt love her and is just proposing a marriage of convenience.

Why don't they just get together in the beginning of the book?
they havent gotten a chance to know each other.

I am not satisfied with all my answers but thanks for giving me soemthing to chew on. Any help with the answers will be appreciated.

JustRite
10-27-2005, 12:47 AM
Susan,
I totally appreciate your help. Thanks. Since this is my first time, I am shooting in the dark. You bring up some nice points. This is the usual "marriage of convenience" story.



But why would he want to have a baby with someone who is going to want that baby, too? Wouldn't he be looking for a woman who will willingly walk away from the baby?


He is primarily just interested in having a baby. Oh, God this is getting harder - it seemed to all make sense in my head. :) I think the Heroine is persuaded too easily and I need some backstory for her motives in agreeing to have the baby - maybe he promises her visitation rights or money or something. I still have to figure it out. I kinda get the feel that the hero comes from a big family - so he likes and wants kids - but the kind of women he has been attracting are not the type he can see himself spending his entire life with. So he wants to skip straight to step two. The working title for this is predictable - "First comes baby".

I want her to want to keep the baby towards the end - like any surrogate mom story - I think she will feel that he may be able to give the baby more material things but not the kind of love she can.

Ok, To Do - Give hero motivation for wanting only baby
Give heroine motivation for walking away from the baby

I need to check out which line I will target since I cannot write steamy scenes. I don't mind increasing the word count to 85,000 - but my target for Nov will be 50,000. Secondary characters need some thinking - thanks so much for suggesting the GMC book - I am on it.

Me thinks I need to flesh out the characters a bit more.

Thanks for all the help.

JustRite
10-27-2005, 12:50 AM
Question - what is a sim?

Susan Gable
10-27-2005, 01:07 AM
Question - what is a sim?

From my POV, a SIM is a Silhouette Intimate Moment. It's another line for category romance. Does that work with the context? If not, do you want to post the context?

Susan G.

katee
10-27-2005, 01:58 AM
The working title for this is predictable - "First comes baby".
Great title! :)

JustRite
10-27-2005, 02:02 AM
I love the resolution to the story. This sime like a nice example of a modern 'forced marraige' plot -- these days with consent ;) I say, go for it. Just plan so the word count comes out right, write like a crazed beast in NANO and deal with the rest in editing ;)

Susan,
Veinglory said "sime" and I came across sim in NaNo. I think thats what they must have meant.
thanks, again!

JustRite
10-27-2005, 02:04 AM
Great title! :)

Katee, thanks for your kind comments. Are any of you doing Nano this year?

Susan, I discovered the Harlequin Romance series that focuses tightly on the H/h, not so much on other characters, has a 55,000 wordcount and does not need to be sexually explicit - just charged with sensual tension and anticipation.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Now for the hard part of writing!

katee
10-27-2005, 02:07 AM
Ok, To Do - Give hero motivation for wanting only baby
Give heroine motivation for walking away from the baby


As far as the hero's motivation for wanting only a baby, could you change his backstory a little? Possibly he and a ?wife ?girlfriend (don't know what's appropriate) were having a baby but he lost them both. He dates all these superficialities as a way of dealing with his grief, and when <something big> happens, he realises that he doesn't want to replace the woman, but would love a baby?

The heroine is harder. Why would you want to go through a pregnancy only to give your baby up? Money? Maybe the woman who died in childbirth (in the above paragraph) was related to the heroine, and this is her way of helping her out - like a last wish sort of thing?

That also might add to some of the tension between the hero and heroine - she wouldn't want to fall in love with him then.

Hehe, in fact, you could twist it a little, and have the woman approach the man with the pregnacy as an offer.

(Apologies if the above is cliched - I haven't read a lot of marriage of convenience stories to know)

JustRite
10-27-2005, 02:23 AM
Hehe, in fact, you could twist it a little, and have the woman approach the man with the pregnacy as an offer.



That is exactly what I was thinking too - might make things a lot easier if the heroine wants a baby and approaches the hero to father her child saying he needn't be responsible for her - but then the whole stay at my place, save mom over baby thing wont work.

How about they have a brief affair and he discovers she is pregnant? She doesnt tell him because she doesnt want to seem like a gold digger. He finds out and wants to keep his baby.

Hmmm. Let me think some more. You have inspired me to think :)

katee
10-27-2005, 02:31 AM
Are any of you doing Nano this year?!
November is a really bad month for me, time-wise. But I'm taking 4 weeks of holidays this December so I'm hoping to get the first draft of my WIP done then.

Susan Gable
10-27-2005, 04:02 AM
Katee, thanks for your kind comments. Are any of you doing Nano this year?

Susan, I discovered the Harlequin Romance series that focuses tightly on the H/h, not so much on other characters, has a 55,000 wordcount and does not need to be sexually explicit - just charged with sensual tension and anticipation.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Now for the hard part of writing!

Uhhhhh...hold up a second. The Harlequin Romance line in its current incarnation is folding. There is going to be a new version of it, but that one is going to be UK based - no release on the North American bookshelves. Just so you know what you're getting yourself into. :)

Susan G.

JustRite
10-27-2005, 04:22 AM
Uhhhhh...hold up a second. The Harlequin Romance line in its current incarnation is folding. There is going to be a new version of it, but that one is going to be UK based - no release on the North American bookshelves. Just so you know what you're getting yourself into. :)

Susan G.

Oh,no - I did see a London address, but I naively assumed thats just where the editor is based. Oh no! Ok, let me try and think of something else or else its back to the SuperRomance.

Thanks a lot, Susan, for catching that!

Susan Gable
10-27-2005, 05:11 PM
Oh,no - I did see a London address, but I naively assumed thats just where the editor is based. Oh no! Ok, let me try and think of something else or else its back to the SuperRomance.

Thanks a lot, Susan, for catching that!

JR, one thing I'd strongly recommend is that if you want to write for a certain line, that you make sure you read some of those books. Because each line really does have its own "flavor" and tone.

Of course, you could go read mine. <VBG> But I also recommend buying some of our new authors. Super bought a bunch of new authors this year. Kay Stockham has her debut Super out this month. Suzanne Cox (hope I spelled her first name right) is another new author whose debut novel will come out in December. (And Harlequin now sells them a month in advance at their website, www.eHarlequin.com (http://www.eHarlequin.com) - and also has a nice Bill Me feature where you can pay the invoice when your books arrive. No need for a credit card over the internet.)

It's really hard to capture a line's tone unless you do some homework reading. :)

Susan G.

JustRite
10-27-2005, 08:22 PM
It's really hard to capture a line's tone unless you do some homework reading. :)

Susan G.

Now I have another excuse for reading :)

Thanks, Susan!

Susan Gable
10-28-2005, 12:54 AM
Now I have another excuse for reading :)

Thanks, Susan!

Oh, hey, I'm always happy to oblige another book-a-holic's need for an excuse. <G>

Hi, my name is Susan, and I'm a book-a-holic. :)

Susan G.

JustRite
10-29-2005, 09:07 AM
Oh, hey, I'm always happy to oblige another book-a-holic's need for an excuse. <G>

Hi, my name is Susan, and I'm a book-a-holic. :)

Susan G.

Pass the peanuts! Susan, The address for Superromance is given as Toronto - what does that mean then?

I wrestled a lot with their motivations and decided to get them drunk in Vegas and have a quickie wedding. I think he will decide she seduced him because she is after his money and she will be suitably indignant. Divorce proceedigns can start immediately, but she is pregnant and the old story follows from there. What do you think?



Thanks in Advance,

Susan Gable
10-29-2005, 07:53 PM
Pass the peanuts! Susan, The address for Superromance is given as Toronto - what does that mean then?

I wrestled a lot with their motivations and decided to get them drunk in Vegas and have a quickie wedding. I think he will decide she seduced him because she is after his money and she will be suitably indignant. Divorce proceedigns can start immediately, but she is pregnant and the old story follows from there. What do you think?

Thanks in Advance,

Toronto is actually where the primary HQ headquarters are located. The Toronto office deals with Supers, Blaze, American (yeah, I know. <G>), and I'm not sure what else is based there now. Mira, I think. Maybe HQN? I'd have to check the website. But the only implication for writers is that it costs more to send your ms to them. <G> The lines based in Toronto are North American based, and released in the US and Canada as the primary market. (I'm presuming that was your concern after I told you about the new Romance line based in the UK.)

The key thing with Super is REAL. They want stories that are as real-life as possible, people you and I might know. That's why the very wealthy angle doesn't go over as well with Super, and that could be a sticking point with your story for them. They're looking for "everyday folk." Us commoners. <G>

Let's look at conflict. <G> If they got married, then only ONE of them wants a divorce. <G> One of them wants the marriage to stay intact until after the baby is born. If one of them wants the baby, the other is at least ambivilent about it. Put your characters at odds. Just be careful, because arguing is not the same as conflict. Occasionally it can be a sign of conflict, but you don't want a story where all the characters do is argue. How can we believe the HEA then?

This is why it is so tricky to write a good romance. Because we know the characters are going to get together in the end, so you have to give us good reason to doubt that. <G>

In my second book, The Mommy Plan, the hero was a single father raising a little girl who'd had a heart transplant. The heroine was a woman whose only child had died and been an organ donor. (No, his kid didn't have her kid's heart. <G>) But I did that because I knew the internal conflict would be HUGE. She's already lost a child so the idea of loving a medically fragile kid is totally not something she's willing to commit to. (So, of course, I make it even harder on her by making the kid really hard to resist. And by making her hero a psychologist who knows how to deal with her grief and fears.) He hates the idea of loving a woman who can't deal with his daugher's medical issues - the kid's mother took off because she couldn't deal with it, and he's not going to put his kid, or himself, through that again.

Kids and babies make for great conflict in my fictional world because they SHOULD come first, and since my characters are heroic, they do put their kids first.

In my third book, Whose Child?, the conflict again centered around a child. The hero and heroine had known each other since childhood, and the heroine agreed to act as a surrogate for the hero and his wife when they couldn't have children. But the heroine learned something about his wife that made her fear for the child's safety, and she ran away while still pregnant.

So, in his mind, she's a kidnapper who stole his child. The child who meant everything to him. He didn't have a father in his life, and he'd always vowed that his kid(s) would never, EVER want for a father in their lives - and the heroine made him break that vow.

The heroine, on the other hand, has loved and raised this child as her own for the last four years, giving up everything, including her own close-knit family, to protect this child. She is NOT biologically the kid's mother, so when he finally finds her and wants his kid back...well, what rights does she have?

Conflict. Can you see how there would be tons of internal conflict there? And as they realize they're in love, the heroine has other internal issues to deal with. (Once the conflict is resolved, the story is over unless there is more conflict to deal with. That's why the story has a black moment, where it all blows up in their faces, and then a RESOLUTION. <G>)

Now again, the amount of conflict should related to the type of story you're trying to tell. I happen to like the deep, angsty, meaty stories. Romantic comedy novels do NOT need the huge conflicts that I like to use. :)

Only you can know your character's GMC's well enough to know if it's working. And even with that, you might tweak them along the way as you write.

Good luck! November is almost here!

Susan G.

JustRite
10-30-2005, 09:02 AM
Toronto is actually where the primary HQ headquarters are located. The Toronto office deals with Supers, Blaze, American (yeah, I know. <G>), and I'm not sure what else is based there now. Mira, I think. Maybe HQN? I'd have to check the website. But the only implication for writers is that it costs more to send your ms to them. <G> The lines based in Toronto are North American based, and released in the US and Canada as the primary market. (I'm presuming that was your concern after I told you about the new Romance line based in the UK.)


Yes, thanks for answering my question!



The key thing with Super is REAL. They want stories that are as real-life as possible, people you and I might know. That's why the very wealthy angle doesn't go over as well with Super, and that could be a sticking point with your story for them. They're looking for "everyday folk." Us commoners. <G>

Gotcha!




Let's look at conflict. <G> If they got married, then only ONE of them wants a divorce. <G> One of them wants the marriage to stay intact until after the baby is born. If one of them wants the baby, the other is at least ambivilent about it. Put your characters at odds. Just be careful, because arguing is not the same as conflict. Occasionally it can be a sign of conflict, but you don't want a story where all the characters do is argue. How can we believe the HEA then?


I understand - this is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing your stories - they are great examples. Any particular reason for having a common baby theme?

Again, I cannot stress enough how much I value and appreciate your help. Thanks a million!

Susan Gable
10-30-2005, 06:34 PM
I understand - this is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing your stories - they are great examples. Any particular reason for having a common baby theme?

I have a variety of reasons I seem to write family dramas. <G> For one thing, like I've mentioned, I think kids provide both great conflict and great comic relief. You never quite know what a kid (be they real or a character) is going to do or say. <G> I like that about them. (I'm a former elementary teacher.)

The whole baby thing - I think there's a lot of emotion tied up in our procreation. Whether it happens as a surprise, or it happens with a lot of planning, or it DOESN'T happen, it's a highly emotional thing. I also love exploring the emotional ramifications of the scientific advances in creating families. We often hear news stories regarding things like surrogacy, etc. but we seldom get to see the emotional impact on the people involved. I like exploring that.

And finally, in truth, I've pitched a few stories that didn't have kids, and they got rejected. <G> So, hey, the family drama works for me. (I've had kids sneak into stories as secondary characters, too. It's like I can't stop them. LOL! Perhaps it's my own inner child coming out? Perhaps it's because most of us have kids in our lives in one form or another? :Shrug: )



Again, I cannot stress enough how much I value and appreciate your help. Thanks a million!

You are very welcome, and please, don't hesitate to ask questions. :) I love answering them. I also love asking them. <G> When I got started, I asked a million questions. It's gratifying to be able to help answer them for others now.

Susan G.

JustRite
11-07-2005, 12:34 PM
Susan, how did you do it? I am at 10052 words for NaNo and my plot has alrady unravelled. Any suggestions? I tend to just write stuff without much background or description. Hope you have some tips for me.

Susan Gable
11-07-2005, 06:19 PM
Susan, how did you do it? I am at 10052 words for NaNo and my plot has alrady unravelled. Any suggestions? I tend to just write stuff without much background or description. Hope you have some tips for me.

Uhhhh...how do I do what, exactly? Write a whole book that holds together?

Again, my favorite basic plan for keeping the story working is to have solid GMC's (Goals, Motivations, & Conflicts) for my characters. Hence why I recommend Debra Dixon's GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict book. (Available from www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com (http://www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com/) )

If you have these things in place, know where you're starting and where you're going (you MIGHT end up in a different place, and that's okay, but I always like to know my final destination when I start. I like to have some idea of what my black moment is before I get to the end) then that's good stuff to have.

You need both external GMC and internal GMCs. The external GMCs drive the plot. The internal GMCs drive the character arcs.

Okay, we're going to use Deb's book and her examples to discuss her concepts. Do yourself a huge favor -- buy a copy of Deb's book! <G> Seriously, she's the one who came up with these concepts to describe the process. So she deserves the credit and support.

We'll use the movie Wizard of Oz for the discussion because most people are familiar with it. (Deb uses this and other well known movies to help you understand the concepts. Let me say it again - Buy Deb's book. You want it for Christmas or New Year's or your birthday or Thanksgiving or just because. <G> No, I don't get any kickbacks from Deb. <G>)

Goal: What does your character WANT? What's the external goal? That's a tangible thing that they want. Goals CAN change as the story goes on. Goals might not be met. We don't always get what we want, do we? Dorothy's big external goal is To Get Back Home. She ends up having smaller exteral goals to help her get there - Follow the YellowBrick Road. Go to Emerald City. See the Wizard. Steal the broomstick. Those are all external goals that propel the story forward as Dorothy tries to acheive her main external goal of Get Back Home.

Internal Goal - These relate to emotional needs, spirituality and life lessons. These are not tangible. You can't see, taste, touch the internal goals. Dorothy's internal goal is to find her heart's desire, a place with no troubles. Other examples of internal goals to regain honor, redemption/forgiveness, respect, self-esteem, to be better than his/her past,

It's the character's decisions in the face of things that drive the story forward.

Motivation - Motivation is the WHY of the goal. WHY does the character want that? Why does Dorothy want to Get Back Home? Because Auntie Em needs her. She's sick. She might be dying. (This creates urgency.) You must create compelling reasons for every action in your book, says Deb. (GMC, p. 34) Why does Dorothy need to get to Emerald City? Because the wizard is there. Why does she need to see the wizard? Because he's the one who can send her home. Why does she need to steal the broomstick? Because the wizard won't help her otherwise.

If the motivation is strong enough, you can make the reader/viewer believe your character will engage in certain actions. If the motivation is weak, the reader will not believe.

Internal motivation should create emotion in the character. (GMC, p. 39.) Why does Dorothy want to find her heart's desire? Because she's unhappy. Why is she unhappy? Because it's been a really bad day at home. Her dog is in trouble and may be taken away. She fell in a pig sty. No one has time for her. She's lonely. Her aunt and uncle are mad at her....

Conflict - the things that get in the way of the character achieving his/her goals. Roadblocks. Obstacles. In a romance, you also want clear conflict between your hero and heroine - it's the thing (usual internal) that keeps the hero and heroine apart. Heroes and heroines do not WANT to fall in love right now, especially not with THAT person. It's the last thing they want. So why do they not want this particular person? That's the couple's conflict. But there also have to be conflicts that get in the way of their goals. Sometimes the other person IS the conflict, or part of it. If they both want the same thing and only one of them can have it, that's conflict. (My book that involved the custody issue of the surrogate child set both characters at odds with each other.)

Conflict forces your characters to EARN their HEA's. (Happily Ever Afters.) You throw roadblocks in their way. Disrupt the road. Conflict comes in different degrees, depending on what you're writing. Romantic comedy obviously has lighter conflicts, especially internal ones. The stories I like to write are heavier conflict. On p. 63 of GMC, Deb provides these examples of conflict:

Heavy: Your heroine is afrad of large men with quick tempers because she was abused by her father and husband.
Lighter: Your herone is afraid of large men with quick tempers because her sister was abused by her husband.
Heavy: Your hero was adopted and wants a large family but your heroine can't have children. (See why she's the LAST person he'd want to fall in love with?)
Lighter; Your hero was adopted and wants a large family but your heroine raised her five brothers and only wants freedom from parenting now.

Some examples of conflict for our heroine, Dorothy: externals: The Witch. The balloon lifts off without her. Internal conflicts: she doesn't know what she wants.

Conflict is the backbone of your book. Stories and pages without conflict are boring. Even the character is in conflict with himself/herself, you need it on the pages.

Do you begin to see why I recommend this book so much? :)

Books stall out because things get boring. So throw something at your characters. Up the stakes. Create a scene that teems with conflict.

Does that help at all?

Susan G.

JustRite
11-07-2005, 10:51 PM
Susan,

God bless you. Again, thanks for taking the time. I tried to buy a copy of GMC at Barnes and Noble, the check out guy said it is out of print. I am goign to buy it from the link you suggested.

I am stuck because things are happening but there is no feel to it. For example, I have a reason but it all seems so flat and "tell, not show". Everyone seems to be struggling.


I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome - both because you are so good at it and because you are such a great mentor.
You make it seem so easy. Next time, anyone says they can write one of these, I am going to ask them to really try :)

Susan Gable
11-07-2005, 11:10 PM
Susan,

I am stuck because things are happening but there is no feel to it. For example, I have a reason but it all seems so flat and "tell, not show". Everyone seems to be struggling.

Tell not show is a whole nother matter. <G> Do you want to post two or three paragraphs for us to look at? You could do here or over in the share your work area.

I have a fairly sparse style of writing, but if you're afraid you're lacking details, that's something that can be added in the next pass. NANO is supposed to be about drafting. :)



I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome - both because you are so good at it and because you are such a great mentor.
You make it seem so easy. Next time, anyone says they can write one of these, I am going to ask them to really try :)

I may be making it SEEM easy, but it's not. <G> Not even for me. I'm sitting here right now, as a matter of fact, with GMC charts spread out around me, and I'm trying to get a good grip on all these characters for this new proposal so I can figure out what the plotline/sysnopsis should look like. :)

Anybody who tells you this is easy is LYING! <VBG>

Susan G.

JustRite
11-08-2005, 04:09 AM
Susan,
Thanks in advance. Case in point: the following paragraph lacks "the zing thing". I feel it lacks any feeling. Its just words strung together. How do I make my writing leap out of the page? The MCs are always talking.

**************
"You are asking me on a date again?," she could hear the amusement in his voice. "No, not a date," she cringed. "Just a sort of meet your neighbor thing." "Well, I am not really doing anything tonight - my date got sick, so maybe I could come over," he replied. Figured. The only way she could get a guy like that to go on a date with her was if his date called in sick. She picked up the broken and bruised pieces of her pride. "Actually, I need to get out of the house, so can we please go see a movie?," she asked. "A movie? I haven't been to one in ages." "Then it is time you did," she said firmly, nipping any argument in the bud. "A movie is only worth seeing in the theatre, with popcorn and munchies. Home theatre is just not the same." Matt sighed. "Alright. Pick you up at eight." She went online to check the movie listings for the nearby theatre. Ah, Star Wars was playing nearby at the Short Pump mall.

She pulled on her black pants - the ones that needed no ironing, and a peach halter top. Her makeup was spare - she put on lipstick and eye-makeup. She needed a break. And more than that, she needed to see if the attraction she felt with Matt was something that wasn't a figment of her imagination. Maybe she was too into her role last time. Surely, she wasn't attracted to someone who went through blondes like Barbie was going out of business?

*****************

Susan Gable
11-08-2005, 05:19 AM
Susan,
Thanks in advance. Case in point: the following paragraph lacks "the zing thing". I feel it lacks any feeling. Its just words strung together. How do I make my writing leap out of the page? The MCs are always talking.

**************
"You are asking me on a date again?," she could hear the amusement in his voice. "No, not a date," she cringed. "Just a sort of meet your neighbor thing." "Well, I am not really doing anything tonight - my date got sick, so maybe I could come over," he replied. Figured. The only way she could get a guy like that to go on a date with her was if his date called in sick. She picked up the broken and bruised pieces of her pride. "Actually, I need to get out of the house, so can we please go see a movie?," she asked. "A movie? I haven't been to one in ages." "Then it is time you did," she said firmly, nipping any argument in the bud. "A movie is only worth seeing in the theatre, with popcorn and munchies. Home theatre is just not the same." Matt sighed. "Alright. Pick you up at eight." She went online to check the movie listings for the nearby theatre. Ah, Star Wars was playing nearby at the Short Pump mall.

She pulled on her black pants - the ones that needed no ironing, and a peach halter top. Her makeup was spare - she put on lipstick and eye-makeup. She needed a break. And more than that, she needed to see if the attraction she felt with Matt was something that wasn't a figment of her imagination. Maybe she was too into her role last time. Surely, she wasn't attracted to someone who went through blondes like Barbie was going out of business?

*****************

Okay, the first thing that leaps out at me is that some of their dialog is awkward - and that's because you've forgotten about contractions. :) Most people speak using them. Also, if this is actually how your paragraphs are, you have a paragraphing problem. When speakers change, you need a new paragraph.


"You are asking me on a date again?," she could hear the amusement in his voice.

The tag makes it seem like SHE's the one saying this, when he is.

"You're asking me on a date again?" Amusement rang in his voice.


"No, not a date," she cringed. "Just a sort of meet your neighbor thing."

You can't cringe words.

"No, not a date." She cringed. (Are we in her POV? How about showing us this cringe more?) She wrinkled her nose. "Just a sort of meet your neighbor thing."

Okay, it's hard to do this because we don't much about the scene you lifted this from and maybe you gave me the cues there. But are they together? They're talking on the phone, right? That's the impression I get, even though you never have your heroine get rid of the phone. <G>

You need to give her something to do while on the phone, or just zing the dialog back and forth faster. I'm going to copy and paste your text here, but I'm going to tweak it a bit. (This is just for ILLUSTRATIVE purposes only. Please don't feel I'm telling you how to write it - except the grammar things. <G>)

"Well, I'm not really doing anything tonight - my date got sick, so maybe I could come over."

Figured. The only way she could get a guy like that to go on a date with her was if his date called in sick. < DELETE THIS She picked up the broken and bruised pieces of her pride.> "I need to get out of the house. Let's go see a movie instead." <She's not asking him, she's telling him. If that's not appropriate for your character, switch it back to a question, but trim it.>

"A movie? I haven't been to one in ages."

"Then it's time you did," she said. <delete this firmly, nipping any argument in the bud.> "A movie is only worth seeing in the theatre, with popcorn and munchies. Home theatre is just not the same."

Matt sighed. "Alright. Pick you up at eight." The phone disconnected, leaving her listening to the dial tone. The least he could do was pretend to be enthusiastic about the idea. (There's some of your missing emotion. How does she feel or respond to his sigh? I made something up myself. <G>) Still, since beggers couldn't be choosers, at least they were going out. Together. (Again, I have no idea how your character thinks. I'm just making up myself as I go. <G>You can do the same. <G>)

She went online to check the movie listings for the nearby theatre. <Delete Ah,> Star Wars was playing nearby at the Short Pump mall. (Watch your use of the same word in close proximity like that. I'd rewrite one of those.)

Like I said, for one thing, give your POV character something to do while they're talking. Look for small details that SHOW something about the character. Play up or expose any conflict. Sometimes it's easier for me to teach through example, so let's look at this and talk about it. This is my most recent heroine on the phone:

Seated on the bathroom floor next to the oversized whirlpool tub, Jenna dug through the plastic container of nail polish, searching for the right color to go with the turquoise, raspberry and silver broomstick skirt she planned to wear that night for her dinner with Sloan. When the phone rang, she rose and awkwardly hobbled - toe spreaders made it so hard to be graceful - to the counter to grab the portable. She sank back to the floor, phone propped between her ear and shoulder. "Hello?"

"Hello, Jenna. I hope I'm not interrupting anything important." Mallory Quinn's cool, even voice made it clear that she really didn't expect something important to take precedence over this phone call.

"Mother. What a surprise to hear from you." Jenna uncapped a bottle of pink polish and began to dab her big toe. "Actually, I'm in the midst of preparing for a very important meeting I have tonight."

"Business?" The catch of surprise in her mother's voice irked Jenna.

Pleasure, Jenna almost responded. But her mother wouldn't even have the decency to be shocked by that answer, and Jenna didn't feel like hearing any of the stock lectures, like "When Are You Going to Grow Up and Settle Down?", or her other personal favorite, "Stop Wasting Your Brains and Get a Real Job." "Actually, yes, it is business. I don't want to talk about it, though. Don't want to jinx it, you know?"

"Superstition is not what leads to business success, Jenna. You should know that by now. Goodness knows you've tried enough different approaches."

"What was it you called for, Mother?" Jenna recapped the polish, tossed it into the container and pulled out a bottle of blue, moving on to the next toe.

"I realize Thanksgiving is over a month away, and that you tend to wait until the last minute to decide things, but I wanted to see if you've made plans already."

Jenna's stomach clenched. Thanksgiving, in fact, all the holidays, had been Gram's domain. "I-I hadn't given it much thought."

"Wonderful. We'll be having dinner at one o'clock, here at the house. Your father and I do hope you'll be here."

"You're doing Thanksgiving? But Meg's off on the holidays. Are you cooking?" The one thing she'd admit to having in common with her mother was the fact that they both did takeout far better than anything else. Fortunately for her parents, they could afford a live-in housekeeper who was an excellent cook.

"Don't be ridiculous. I'm having it catered by Dominique."

"That's a relief," Jenna muttered, changing colors again.

"What did you say?"

"I said, oh, that thief. Honestly, with the prices Dominique charges, we could feed the entire homeless population of Erie for less."

"You will be here, right? It will mean a lot to your father."

"Yes, Mother. I'll be there." For her father, who'd adored his mother as much as Jenna had, she'd go.

"Wonderful. Dinner at one. Drinks at noon. Dress to impress, darling." Her mother made a kissy-kiss sound into the phone. "Talk soon!" With that, she hung up.

Dress to impress? Jenna stifled a groan as she clicked off the phone and set it on the edge of the tub. She looked down at her foot and smiled as she realized what she'd done. Four toes, four different colors.

Just like Gram had always done for her when she was little. Why have just one color when you can have ten, she always said.

The smile drained away as Jenna pressed her lips together, a hollow ache building in her chest. Blinking back the moisture gathering in her eyes, she proceeded to finish her toes, each one another shade. When she was done, she just sat, letting them dry and admiring the rainbow on her feet - and missing Gram.

Okay, so what makes that scene work? What details did I use to SHOW you something about my heroine's character? What SHOWS the conflict between the heroine and her mother? What other kinds of things do you discover about my heroine from this scene, things I haven't actually TOLD you about her, but that you've just discovered about her by reading this little bit?

Susan G.

katee
11-08-2005, 05:36 AM
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! :)

I love examples like this - ones that show something rather than just telling the same old advice.

I've been struggling to get my characters to do something while they're talking, and I've never come up with anything good. But your example illustrates *perfectly* the sort of thing I want to be doing with mine, but haven't got there yet.

I have to stop myself cracking open my manuscript now and having a go (I'm at work) but I'm definitely going to go over my dialogue scenes - in particular the ones that don't work - and figure out what I can show about my characters at the same time.

JustRite
11-08-2005, 05:38 AM
Susan,

I cannot thank you enough. Thanks for illustrating how to change paragraphs. I honestly had no clue (You can tell :) )

I especially liked your tips on not using the same words near each other - I noticed that I do that with entire sentences as well. This will be the first thing to fix when I am done writing this first draft.

The tip about the problem with the POV is great as well. No wonder I am confused. I am bouncing back and forth without a clue. Even though Nano is all about the word count, I want to try and write as good a first draft as I can.

Again, thanks!

Susan Gable
11-08-2005, 06:36 AM
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! :)

I love examples like this - ones that show something rather than just telling the same old advice.

I've been struggling to get my characters to do something while they're talking, and I've never come up with anything good. But your example illustrates *perfectly* the sort of thing I want to be doing with mine, but haven't got there yet.

I have to stop myself cracking open my manuscript now and having a go (I'm at work) but I'm definitely going to go over my dialogue scenes - in particular the ones that don't work - and figure out what I can show about my characters at the same time.

I'm glad you found it helpful. I also learn much better when people SHOW ME instead of just telling me. <G> Examples are good things. It helps drive the point home.

And I LOVE talking about stuff like this, so, as I always say, feel free to ask questions. :)

Good luck with reworking your scenes!

JustRite, I'm glad I helped you out, too. Repeat words can be tricky - I always think I do a good job catching them, and then the next time I look, I find more. And more. That's why writing is rewriting. :)

Susan G.

Sonarbabe
11-08-2005, 06:38 AM
(Watch your use of the same word in close proximity like that. I'd rewrite one of those.)



I just caught one of those boo-boos myself today. My mom (gotta love Moms) was listening to me describe a love scene (she's an avid Blaze fan) and she chimed in with, "Monica, sweetheart, this is very good, but you used 'almost' twice in the same sentence. You're going to want to change that, dear." So, I thought I'd just chime in with that I've done this before myself. :D

katee
11-08-2005, 08:22 AM
I've also caught myself using the same (descriptive) words throughout the manuscript. The most recent one I've noticed is ooze. It's an unusual enough word that I'm worried I'm using it too often.

But I figure these are things that I'll pick up on my next draft. My current aim is to get that first draft done. :)