June 24, 2011

Making the Hard Choices

I just turned The Aussie in to my editor at the beginning of the week. It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for months off and on between revisions and the continuity book. It’s been started, stopped, had the hero recast, and started, and stopped, and started again.

And that’s all without my editor ever seeing it!

I loved writing. Loved loved! My heroine was fun and creative, with some great quirks that made her really fun to write. And my hero was this fab engaging, funny, witty guy. I loved him from the moment I cast him. (many apologies to the hero who go the boot, I will use you later, promise.)

And things went on that way, with the loving and laughing for a long time. I love a funny hero, I love a hero who expresses his Alpha Male through an easy kind of cool confidence. And my Aussie hero had all that!

But something started changing in him. A kind of intensity began to come up beneath the cool, calm exterior. And by the time the black moment hit, and my hero was backed into a corner emotionally, he descended to a level of bastardry that made me so angry I wanted to punch him in the face.

I closed the document.

I walked away for a while. Could he really do that? *angst* It was so cold. *angst ANGST*

It was the worst thing he could do to my heroine given her past.

*eats cookies* *angsts* *eats more cookies* *haz sugar coma*

It was the only way he could put distance between them. Distance he was desperate for so he could protect his heart.

*deep breath*

So I came back to it. I read it. In snatches. My stomach was in knots. And I made what he did just a little bit colder.

Oh! The drama. It actually HURT to write the scene. Not quite shoving pins beneath my fingernails, but not at all pleasant!

This is the second time, recently, this has happened to me with a MS. With the continuity book, I had a basic outline, but not the real depth of the story, so when it was time to reveal something about my heroine, the secret that tumbled out of her mouth even shocked me. And it made me a little bit sick to write it.

Can I do that? I asked myself that a hundred times. Ultimately, there wasn’t another path I could imagine for her. So I wrote it. Quickly. And I had to go back to the scene later to add the depth it needed because I really couldn’t do it in one shot.

When the MS was accepted, that was a point of the MS my editor mentioned as being particularly powerful.

I’m not sure what the verdict is on Aussie Boy yet. But I do know that, not matter what, it was best to follow my gut, even when my gut felt a bit wrenched! Sometimes you have to make hard choices, and truly hurt your characters, and you, to heal them.

To a non-writer I think this might sound a bit strange, but there are times when a character reveals a truth to you that you don’t like, but you know, once you’ve heard that hard truth, that there is no other way to write that character’s story. Even if it hurts.

In the end, I think those books, the ones that make you bleed on the page, the ones that force you to be honest, are the ones that turn out the best. Even if writing them makes you a little bit of a crazy person. 😉

Make the hard choices. Make the HONEST choices. Your MS will be better for it!


Comments

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  1. Nice one! I had this same thing happen in last WIP. Heroine wanted things (yes, those types of things) that I wasn’t really prepared to write. Could she still be that character and want that? Had to step away and when I went back, decided to let her have it. That book is a long way from seeing editor’s eyes, but I will remember this post whenever that time comes. Thanks.

  2. Yeah! So glad I could help, Megan! *sigh* Strumpet heroines…what can you do!

  3. Gosh *I’ve* got a knot in my stomach just reading your post! Goodness knows how *you* must have felt writing the story Maisey. Poor hero/heroine’s – we do like to torture them don’t we? But that’s the way it should be. If we don’t do the story and the characters justice then all we create are cardboard cut outs of two people who meet and then get together at the end. Not emotionally satisfying at all – for the author or the reader. So bring it on I say. Torture away – AND I bet your editor loves it….. ;o) Caroline x

  4. This is great advice. A story with that honest emotion is the one I remember. The one I’ll go back and reread. Sometimes it really is difficult to be that brave.

  5. Caroline, thank you for feeling the pain with me! It’s hard to do as a writer, but it also lets me know I’ve done my job. Everything may not be right, but if I’ve gone that far with the first version, I know I can go even further with the next.

    Julia, the honesty is the real key. Not drama just for drama, but drama because it’s the truth of your characters and the story. 😀

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