I’VE SOLD A BOOK, BUT CAN’T WRITE A SENTENCE
Hello SCWW ! Thanks for having me and letting me share what happens between the sale of my first book and it’s publication.
HILL COUNTRY HOLD UP status: nothing happened this month. It’s six months until my Harlequin Intrigue will be on store shelves in September. I’ve submitted the book and I’m waiting on copy edits from my editor.
Unfortunately, I’m still working on my second proposal. I’m on the last ten pages needed for the submission. While trying to decide on the topic for this week, I realized several things happened this month. Individually, they seemed insignificant. But when you’re analyzing why words aren’t hitting the page...everything’s significant.
I sold a book. First words from my published friends were “Congratulations, but...” Each reminded me to write. To get the second proposal ready as soon as possible. To submit my second book, I needed a synopsis and three chapters (or approximately fifty pages). This shouldn’t be hard. I thought I had a great first chapter. I had the workings of a synopsis. I kept writing. Then I developed the plot. Revised the synopsis. The story was stronger. I sent the first chapter to my agent. She loved it. I finished the synopsis. My agent had a few questions, I revised and it’s ready. I moved forward to chapter two. Wow, I’m writing. This is great. I can move to chapter three.
Screeeeeching halt. My critiques came back on chapter two. Along with the dreaded words halfway through my chapter--words I haven’t received since the critiques on my first work: “When can we talk?” OH NO! The chapter wasn’t brilliant? I took another look. Ugh. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that out of 25 lines, I had 24 “was ing” combinations. I met one of my critique partners for lunch. An hour and a half later, we had hopefully resolved the pacing problem. The passive writing was mine to fix with severe revising.
I read chapter two through different eyes. Writing is something I work at. I love getting the story on the page, but making it publishable is work (at least for me). The second version seemed to pass muster. Now I just need to get the last ten pages ONTO the page. That’s my goal this week.
ANALYSIS: Thank goodness for great, honest critique partners. One who says, “Angi, did you forget how to write?” And I actually think I did. I was too interested in hurrying through, getting the story on the page. My second chapter read more like a synopsis than my usual active voice. I analyzed the sentence structure and treated the writing as if it weren’t mine. As if it were a critique partners’ work. I went through the chapter asking myself questions, then revised again by answering those questions.
The real problem? Emotion. Most of my questions had to do with why. Why were the hero and heroine responding to the situation in the way they responded. I’m writing characters who are in a dangerous situation. Strangers, thrown together and forced to depend on each other. And the emotion just wasn’t transferring to the page. I couldn’t determine why. I’ve written for several years. What was different? And then I had a personal scare this week. My 11 ½ year old dog became ill and I thought we’d have to make a decision regarding his life.
Now you ask, what does that have to do with writing romance? After Logan (my 11 year old “puppy”) began to recover, I wanted to put all the emotion I experienced into my notes. I realized, that it was the same emotion my heroine will need at her black moment in the book (no, no, nothing to do with animals). And then it hit me. I have been happy since selling my book. Very happy. And the happy emotion was being transferred to the page. So yes, I sold a book. Yes, I can still write. Yes, it’s fun. And yes, I have to remember the basic things I’ve learned along the way to write another. Practice. Practice. Practice.
This week’s lesson learned: Dig deep, read your notes, set the mood, get back into a “scary” place, and bring the right emotions to your characters.
‘Til next time,
Some upcoming topics of discussion:
An On-Going Behind the Scene Look at Getting Ready for Publication
(revisions, promotion, copy-edits, AA’s, character sheets, log-lines, bios, etc.)
How I Chose My “Dream” Agent & Editor
My Hero Has Brown Hair?
Targeting Your Book & Choosing Your Market
Seeing Your Cover For The First Time