Sunday, September 7, 2008

How to make your smart heroine do something stupid?

Well, Leah will be proud of me. I’ve been writing forward. My word count hasn’t really changed. (Took away notes as I wrote. :) ) But it is going forward, now I’m at another integral part where I need my heroine do something completely stupid and get herself in trouble. She quick tempered, stubborn and will do stupid things when someone tries to ‘tell’ her what to do. Got that figured out, hero is going to order her to stay put. And in a huff she goes anyway.

Dilemma – I know where I want to end up, but I haven’t decided out how they are going to get there. I haven't quite figured out how to get him to be so pushy with her that he will start ordering her around. While I do know men get that way all the time, but doing it on paper where the female audience will get it is another thing. Any suggestions?

And I know Leah, just skip it and write forward, but I’ve just skipped over several other key scenes that now I’m starting to hate doing it. So far I have passed over at least four key scenes and I’m only a third into the draft. Some of it is necessary. I want to make sure my ending will fit the beginning. I like seeing where my characters take me, so while I have a plan, I leave a lot for inspiration from the voices in my head.

How many major scenes do you skip in a first draft?

And while I’m asking, how many drafts do you go through before you let others critique?

Oh, go check out The Goddess Blogs. This is a great, fun blog. Plus they are always doing contests for free books. I commented on the appeal of Pirates the other day and won a signed book by Sabrina Jeffries. Work has been sucking the life out of me so I didn’t even know I won. She graciously emailed me this morning to see if I wanted her book. Uh, YES! Anyone want my unsigned copy? I’ll send it to you.


Anonymous said...

I'd love your unsigned copy. Haven't read anything by her.

We have to skip problem areas but not everything. Your characters can't work their way through it if you don't have your pen in that section of the plot or your mind at least.

Something that might help is what Shirley Jump calls the Rule of Six. Make 6 reasons why he might treat her like that. Kind of like what ifs. She says you can easily get to three or four but getting to five and six makes it more unique, less cliche.

I've been busy at work, too and not writing forward so I certainly understand that, but my fingers have been twitching with the need to write so hopefully this week I'll get to something new. Stay after it.

Leah Braemel said...

Hey, Dani

Congrats on writing foward. HUGE step!

And as Marley said, there are times you need to not skip. It's tough writing a character that could easily be branded TSTL for not listening when another character is being reasonable. It's all in the background and reasoning the character uses for making her decision. While the hero might thinks she's TSTL you've got make it that the reader understands why she's being a butthead.

How many major scenes do I skip? Hmm, used to be never, in this latest manuscript it was about 4 - usually love scenes which I find incredibly hard to write. I write up maybe a page of notes saying "expand this" and move on. But it depends upon the story. Some I've never skipped any. I think this is the most I've skipped. THEN when I'm ready to write them, I copy the notes I've made to a separate doc, and work on that scene exclusively so I don't distract myself by scrolling forward or back and end up editing. Sometimes you just have to do this rather than skipping them. And if they're really giving you problems sometimes you need to ask yourself WHY is it so hard to write them? Are you asking the character to do something out-of-character? Is the scene necessary at all? (A lot of times you may find it's better summarized in a later scene) Or maybe it's just that it's tough to write - an action scene that requires a lot of blocking or an exposition scene that requires a lot of loose ends to be woven in, along with emotion. In which case, don't worry so much about word count for the day, but make sure you keep focussed on it.

How many edits before sending it out for critiques? Depends what you're looking for - if you're unsure that you've made the heroine TSTL, you may want to send out a fairly rough draft and ask your partners exactly that. Tell me not to look for pickies as BlueSue calls them, and ask very specific questions for them to answer.

I recently received advice from a NY author that you shouldn't send something out for crit until you've finished your second draft. Some writers write no more than three drafts, some (me) write 983 drafts - I definitely don't want to burden my critique partners if I sent you a chapter 982 times.

I also think it also changes the more confident you get in your writing. Plus with my type of writing, I keep editing and if I sent something out at the first draft, by the time I got finished and to the final draft, my critique partners would be fed up of reading the same scene about 6 times.

Dani said...


Marley, I like that 6 rule. I may start applying that. Thanks on the encouragement. I’ll email you offline and get your mailing address. I hope you like the book. :)

Leah, as always, my writing guru. I think part of the reason I’ve skipped so many scenes so far (I think it’s only been 3 or 4 now. Maybe less.) is because I know that my tension needs to be amped up in a lot of places and toned down in one scene. I think I’m trying to work it out in my head by getting to the end before I go back and adjust the tension accordingly. I believe you called that layering.

I think (or maybe hoping) that once I get the tension right in those other scenes then the ones that I’ve skipped over will just flow. In the two toughest scenes that I’ve skipped, my heroine is really pissed. I don’t want her coming off as a total bitch. She’s got REAL reasons to be so angry and I want to get it right so the reader will go along and think “Yeah, I’d want to smack him too.”

By the way, does TSTL mean “to stupid to live”? Sorry, I’m not up to speed on all the acronyms. :)

Have a great Monday ladies!

Leah Braemel said...

Yup TSTL = Too Stupid to Live