Last Monday when I read Sandra’s post, When Good Scenes Go Bad, I wondered if she had been spying on me while I attempted to write! Then I realized she was talking about her own experience and I wondered if the condition was contagious. You see, I recently started a new project and consider myself still in the honeymoon phase, when words flow freely and everyone is still getting along. In my experience, the honeymoon stage lasts for months, at least through fifty percent of the first draft.
I am on page thirteen! (It bears noting that both my mother and youngest son were born on the thirteenth, a date and number I’ve always considered quite lucky, which means I can’t blame triskaidekaphobia for my lack of progress.)
Therefore, if it isn’t the number 13, I’m back to blaming Sandra! She was contagious and I caught it from her. Only then damn it – I also have to admit that by reading her post When Good Scenes Go Bad, she also helped me figure out how to break through the wall and get back to work. Is it okay to blame a critique partner, if you also give her credit for solving the problem?
No? Well, crap, that’s what I thought too – but damn it, blaming her is a heck of a lot easier than analyzing my actual problem! Alright then, if I can’t blame her, at least I can use her advice?
click each heading to see Sandra’s original post and advice
You’re darn skippy it is – this is the first meet scene between the hero and heroine. Yep, totally got this one nailed. A+
Duh – hero and heroine. Yep, those would be the right characters. Another A+
I’m telling this story in first person, single POV, so if the answer here is no, I’ve got much deeper problems. So, let’s go with the easy answer and assume it is a yes and another A+ (and I thought this would be hard!)
Well, maybe. Okay, probably not. The heroine has returned to her childhood home, broke and out of options. On her first day home she meets her childhood friend, the first boy she ever kissed (a fact that hasn’t appeared on page). There has been no development of the hero, very little development of the heroine — heck, it’s page 13 — if they meet now and kiss and fall in love — yep, I think this is the beginning of my problem. I’m giving myself a D (probably earned an F, but I’m giving credit for effort)
Goal? Yes. No. Maybe. It’s when they reconnect, but beyond that — okay, not really. Another D
Tension? She is stuck under a fence. And there is a snake. And I can do better. C
Conflict? Yes, there is conflict. Sort of. Not a lot, but … it is not between the two people on the page. C-
Apparently, in addition to a brick wall, I also need to be hit over the head with a hammer! Fortunately, (for me and my totally selfish self) my blog mate and critique partner was suffering from a similar malice at a very convenient time for me to blame her — umm, I mean learn from her.
Analyzing the story using Sandra’s check list helped me realized I had pretty much summed up the entire story — hook, plot and HEA — in thirteen pages. Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. They kiss. Cupid’s arrow flies and they live happily ever after. This is a great story, right? Who needs conflict? Or goals? Or tension?
What do you mean that isn’t a story you want to read? You want well developed characters that you care about and relate to? A focused story thread? A goal? Motivation? And conflict? You want these people to earn their happily ever after? You don’t want to know from the first page they will fall in love and have 2.5 children, a house in the ‘burbs and a dog?
Do you have any idea how much all that stuff complicates EVERYTHING?!? This writing gig is hard!
Don’t judge me — have you written today?
Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!