Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Romancing the Writer

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Not that long ago, I wrote about a little exercise I was doing to stretch my authorial legs - namely writing a romance novella set in Puerto Rico (a very romantic place, if you ask me).

Well, a week later, I think I'm almost done. The first draft was completed before the weekend. I'm now on rewrite #3 - the point where the changes are small tweaks, not major insertions or deletions.

I do plan to read it once more just to make sure my timeline hangs together (I had to start a notepad file to keep track of the days). But I feel perilously close to the "fiddling" stage. You know, where I'm making changes just for the sake of making changes. And that's really a bad place to be.

I've been asked "how do you know that you're done?" I'm not sure I really have a good answer to that. On one hand, you're "done" when your publisher says so. But in another way, I kind of feel that it's similar to defining pornography. Nobody can give a very good definition, but we all know it when we see it.

That's where I am. I'm not "done" yet, but I'm tantalizingly close. I feel it more than I know it.

And here's the most surprising thing: I've really, really enjoyed writing this novella. It may never go anywhere. But I've had a lot of fun. It's all about character, which I love. I mean really, there are only so many variations on "boy meets girl," right? So with a few minor details, one romance is a lot like another. That means that if you don't have good characters, you're dead in the water.

When I'm writing mystery, there's a lot of "who did what, when, why, how" puzzling that has to be done. No, that guy couldn't have done it, because of this thing I said he did in chapter 1. And the girl couldn't have been there at that time because I already said she was 100 miles away. Keeping track of those threads can be maddening.

So writing a story without those details has been refreshing. Yeah, there are details. The story still has to hang together. But it doesn't feel as technical. I've got a little more freedom. I need to worry more about whether a characters actions are consistent with her personality than whether or not I already alibied her four chapters ago.

So what's next for this story? Not really sure.

But I'm definitely going to go look up those contest rules again.

Updated 5/24/12: I pushed "send" on the entry today. Ack!

What's the one thing you've tried and enjoyed more than you expected?

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