Here i will share my journey of hopefully one day recognising my dream of becoming published writing what i love to read; Romance!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Where working out conflict gets conflicting and very very tricky!!

I have been struggling with this concept for the last week in particular but over the last few years in general with my writing.
I have been doing lots of research on Conflict and Characterisation to get a handle on GMC and how to create it for my characters - or to understand the root of my characters motivation and conflict. And I stumbled on a few gems - or rather the light switch flicked on somethings for me. You may already know all this, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

G = the Hero or Heroine's goal. What they want or want to avoid
M = their motivation. Why or why not they want their goal
C = what makes is so hard for them to meet their goal - the conflict

Valerie Parv in The Art of Romance Writing breaks GMC down to Problem, Solution and Obstacle. In essence at the beginning of a story your hero/ine has a problem they are about to solve when an obstacle arrived in the form of the hero/ine's wants.

On a website called the Publishing Crawl I discovered that after you have worked out your GMC a great way to test that is sound or strong enough, or plausable sounding, try and combine the GMC into one sentence. It will quickly reveal which part or parts of the GMC needs more work:

     MC (main character) wants (G)...because (M).... but (C).

So then I had to work this all out for Secrets and Lies.
I discovered that my story was plot driven. I didn't really understand my characters and their motivations.
But I found on deeper research that i had a more basic problem. I had not pinpointed what the theme of my story was!
Theme is the overarching point of your story. eg, Freedom, Security, Truth.... . Mine was to do with Trust.
Theme leads to your premise - the moral of your story. Lots of notes and pondering revealed mine as 'Trust comes from the heart, not the mind'.

Once you know what your theme is, you need to make sure that every character, every scene meets this theme. - I found this illuminating for the editing process and whether or not scenes or characters were necessary!

With the theme and premise in mind it was easier to pinpoint the real GMC's for my main characters.
At the root of it all I have a heroine who trusts her heart over her mind, and my hero trusts his mind over his heart = instant conflict!

But deeper into conflict there are multiple layers. *groan* It's never easy!
Their are two main types of conflict. External and Internal.

External Conflict is what propels the MC's to do what they do. A cheating partner, death of a loved one, being made penniless....The external conflict propels the MC's together initially - this is the beginning of your story, or where your story opens.
Their Internal Conflict is the struggle of your MC's to overcome their external goals. And of course, their internal conflicts can change as they meet challenges and realise deeper what they really want or need - which may or may not be the hero/ine!

Now, narrowing down the main driving Internal and External conflicts for my MC's has proven frustrating as well as invigorating. By getting to the crux of their issues I can then layer their conflicts further as each meets a challenge, revealing deeper motivations and goals.

For example, my hero's main internal goal is to have his head rule in all decisions and actions. His motivation comes from his past: He followed his heart to his detriment - the heroine up and left him at the altar. He is not going to be made so vulnerable ever again.
A deeper layer goal - he has to know why the heroine left him (this makes him vulnerable, this unmanly insecurity) which leads to a lot more secrets in the story.
His conflict: When the heroine comes back he is finding it very hard to keep his head when his heart and soul screams for the heroine. But, should he trust his head and believe his brother or trust his heart and believe the heroine?
My hero needs to learn that trust will lead him to the truth. This is the goal that he really wants, but doesn't know it yet - He wants the truth but to get it he has to trust the heroine.

My heroine is a bit more complicated and I am still nutting out some nitty gritty bits but essentially she needs to learn that for her truth leads to trust. Likewise she doesn't know yet that at the heart of it all she wants the complete trust of the hero but to get it she must give him the truth.
See how nicely they conflict with each other - each needs to have a goal or conflict that is the opposite to the other to create that lovely tension - who will win in the end??!

See it's all very tricky and layered. And by writing this post I have managed to have a few more lightbulb moments!

Good luck with nutting out your GMC's!
If you have any gems to share, please do!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013's just too much, but what if it's not enough!

An exellent post from K.M Weiland on explanation. One that i found a tad funny, 'cos i can totally tell that i often do this and later when i read over it i'm like, "gah! what are you doing!!!"

The basic tip is to let your readers have the benefit of the doubt, don't go overboard, and let your readers imagine. They don't need everything spelled out.

Hope this helps, or it at least creates a giggle :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dialogue suckage

Yep, i've discovered while editing that i really suck at dialogue.
It's not the first thing i gravitate towards while writing - i really prefer to write internal dialogue (perhaps because i tend to live in my own head quite a lot?!).

However, i did notice that one of my scenes really lacked impact.
It contained a lot of he did, she did and then, and of course internal dialogue.
So i went back to the beginning of the scene and inserted dialogue - taunts really - (it was a fight scene) and suddenly it felt real, alive and so much better! I was able to delete a good chunk of the internal dialogue because the characters speaking and their reactions to each other, told more about them than the internal stuff.

Do you suck at dialogue, or is this your natural style?

From the Write Practice i found two great articles. One about rumours and another about observations. Even if you are awesome at dialogue, do visit them, they are well worth the minute to read :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Underestimation

My goodness i have totally underestimated how long it would take me to edit Secrets and Lies! I am less than a quarter through the first draft with my edit and it has taken almost 5 months.

I have read through the whole document on my kindle - so i couldn't tweak as i went! - and highlighted areas that needed deleting, errors, rewording, layering etc.
The process of going back through and editing those notes has taken longer, i know from all the research i have done to set the story in 1144 in the Outer Hebrides.
I am really enjoying this process but it is taking so long! I really fear that my story will not be any where near finished for either sending to publishers or self publishing by year end....

Working 4 days a week and being a busy mum really does take a lot of time and i take my hat off to those published mums out there! this process is taking a long time as i'm only opening my document once or twice a week, but i find i am exhausted from stimulating toddlers all day and then doing mum and housewife stuff when i get home!
While my house is looking very untidy and housework is slipping i find it hard/guilty to sit down and edit.
Does anyone else have this dilemma?

How do you balance writing time with family/housework duties?

Monday, May 6, 2013

A helpful Blog

Do you sometimes sit for ages at the keyboard trying to describe the feel of sand under foot or the frown on your character's face? Description for me is sometimes so painful. I use my thesaurus (yes the one on the bookshelf!), but can rarely find exactly what i'm lookin for.
But i think i have found my answer.Scrolling through some of the sites i like (left side of blog) i found a link to a blog that helps with description.

The Bookshelf Muse Has a thesaurus for physical attributes; colours; character traits!!

Describing weather, like a breeze and how it sounds, smells, moves, feels etc.
Describing body parts, like a stomach - flacid, bouncy, rotund, taut...

All of these come with bits of information linked to a characters possible emotion.

Even though i only scrolled through it quickly, i can tell i will be revisiting this site often!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Writing Tip: Cutting extraneous words during editing

I know i will be up to this part of editing soon. (Well probably a month or two away)

Rachel Gardiner recommends that before submitting or publishing your manuscript it could be in your best interest to do another round of edits and cut 10 words per page.


Look for -ly words. Are they necessary?
So too for -ing words

cut out passive voice - 'was', 'were' and 'that'

shorten description

shorten internal monologue or show thoughts and feelings through dialogue or action.

repetitive telling what the reader already knows.

And, carefully considering a big list of overused words:
about, actually, almost, like, appears, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, finally, just, just then, kind of, nearly, practically, really, seems, simply, somehow, somewhat, sort of, suddenly, truly, utterly, were.

I don't know what my overused words are - well, actually i think i use 'hoped' too much!

What are your best editing tips, or overused words?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Men's Brains Women's Brains

Following a link from facebook i discovered this awesome youtube video about Men's brains and Women's brains and how differently they work.

Mark Gungor the motivational speaker and minister who runs the marriage course is funny and tells things like it is.
I found it so interesting and so very true! He does explain that in general what he talks about can be confined to men's brains and women's brains but he is sure that there are people who act and think in the reverse, so it is not a blanket that-is-how-you-are type thing.

The two very interesting things i got from this clip (1 hour!):

* Women have to ask their men more than once to do something for them. But women don't want to do this because they shouldn't have to! We want our men to do it without asking.

* Men are interested in 1 thing. And you know what that is ;) So the way to getting what we want from our men is to bargain with what they want!

I found this seminar really exciting from a writer's perspective too. If you struggle to really get into your hero's head, then this can give you some basic background information on how a man's brain works!
For instance, a man's brain is full of little boxes each filled with a different topic - car, money, job...etc. They don't touch! So when they talk about something, it is only about the contents in that one box. And that is how men can be so focussed and why they are so good at single-tasking. (My hubby disagrees with this one, he says he is a better multi-tasker than me, but then, he is wired differently to me and i juggle more things at once than he realises!)

Also they have a 'nothing' box. But i'll let you watch the clip to see what this is, and how funny and true this whole seminar rings! Go on watch it!