Saturday, May 29, 2010

Remember me?

Time flies...I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last posted. I'm having a break from my medical treatment due to nasty side effects.

On the writing front, I've completed my first synopsis and have received feedback from my writing teacher. Basically, I've got a looonnngggg way to go in learning the skill of synopsis writing. My frustration with this ms is immense. After working on this story for over a year (and during this writing course), having brainstormed with my Course Coordinator, and having submitted my first three chapters there are STILL problems with my character's goals, motivations and conflict. Can you sense my frustration?!!

So the feedback from my writing teacher on my synopsis can be summed up like this:

  • I haven't demonstrated that my hero and heroine are made for each other, despite the obstacles that stand in their way (internal and external conflict). The motivation for the romance is not explained.

  • The question was asked why my hero needed his father's wishes to force him to marry? Why doesn't he decide he needs this by himself? (In my ms, hero is heir of his father's hotel. My hero wants nothing more than to take over the running of the hotel and, by doing so, preventing a merger with their competitor. His father is CEO and is stepping down, but requires his son to marry in order to take over as CEO. His father has a reason for this, but it's not explained in the synopsis.)
  • My heroine's motivation for the MOC was questioned. I thought I had got this right, but obviously not...

  • I also need to show how my heroine's initial perceptions about the hero shift and demonstrate exactly the events and actions that reveal to her the opposite qualities about the hero. Qualities that she admires in him and that make her fall in love with him.
  • I have to make it clear what the wound in my heroine is that my hero heals, how it happens and how it further complicates things between them.

  • The Black Moment - there needs to be a change in the hero leading up to this, ie. I need to show that he is starting to change his views about not getting emotionally involved with my heroine.
I've been struggling with getting my characters' motivations for the MOC believable, but it seems I still haven't managed this. I mean, it's not as if I'm writing a Modern/Sexy/Presents where the hero can just blackmail my heroine to marry him for some reason. So I've decided the MOC hook has got to be abandoned. I've wasted too much time on what has felt like trying to force my characters fit this hook which was meant to increase the stakes (rather than just a fake fiance which was what it was initially). Have re-written the first three chapters twice (second time I started completely from scratch), I'm now prepared to abandon the MOC since it's not working and my characters have stopped speaking to me and the writing has stalled. So I'll hand in my final assignment (the query letter), then start from scratch. The only constant in all this has been the characters whom I love, and I want to tell their story and their romance.

It's a struggle trying to write a synopsis when I'm an organic writer and the ms has not been completed. I think that's why it's been lacking so much. Yet I know this is an expectation of published writers so it's something I have to learn how to do.

I don't expect to get things right the first time, but when I've spent so long trying to get the story elements right and the GMC, it's discouraging after so long to realise that I haven't. I feel like I've wasted my time. Anyway, I know it's all a learning curve.

On a more positive note, I'll leave you with someone who has gone into my Hero Inspiration files recently.

I absolutely loved Russell Crowe in Robin Hood. Also loved him in Gladiator. Give me a warrior any day.

For those of you that prefer a younger-looking hero, maybe this pic might float your boat instead:


Jackie Ashenden said...

ARgh, Angie, sounds like you've been wrestling with exactly the same things as me. I reckon this character stuff is the hardest to get right! It's taken me over six months to get a handle on this and I'm still not getting it right all of the time. I too am an organic writer which is a bit of a stumbling block.
I've discovered though that it's really useful to sort out the main character stuff before you start writing. Things such as why is the hero the best man for the heroine? Why is he the worst? And vice versa.
Once you've figured that out, then you can think about the how's. Like, if your heroine has never felt she mattered, how can the hero show her that she does? How does he treat her to make her feel that way? That kind of thing.
It's not an easy thing to balance because you've got to make sure they have tension and yet also make sure that they like and admire each other enough to fall in love. One of the pieces of advice I got from the editor was that I had concentrated too much on the tension and not enough on what made the heroine fall in love with the hero. It's hard stuff.
But you haven't wasted anything, remember that. It's all learning.

Angie Peters said...

Thanks, Jackie. I was starting to worry that it was only me struggling with these things.
I did work on the character stuff, but obviously not as in depth as I should've obviously. I need to focus on your questions - thanks for the guide. Seems like I totally overlooked what is essentially the most important aspect of the romance - why are these two characters good for each other?
I'll brainstorm the how's.
You're so right - the balance is difficult...but not impossible, right? Even though it damn feels like it sometimes :)

Francine said...


Can commiserate on the writing of synopsis, and I worked out my own plan of how to master keeping a syn to 2/3 pages.

Write a two paragraph blurb describing the whole story, then add in the details and highlight the essentials. What have you got = 2 pge synopsis.

Interestingly, on the Minxes blog the synopsis writing guru mentions single-spacing your lines for synopsis. Beware on that because a lot of publishers state no more than 2/3 page synopsis and double-spaced or 1/5 line spacing.

What you can get into single line spaced synopsis is far greater than that of double line spacing, and editors do take note of how well-honed a synopsis is because that implies your novel isn't going to be a load of waffle!

Re Russell Crowe and Robin Hood. He was staying not far from where I live whilst filming the great battle scene on the beach, the beach being Freshwater West (Pembrokeshire)not that far from me either. The same beach was used in the Harry Potter film featuring the Shell House, which in the novel/movie is supposedly in Cornwall. Thing is, though, the Cornish coast has become so commercialised with houses/hotels etc it's no longer as unspoilt as once was. In fact we've had several movies shot on location in and around our area in the last twelve months, because vast swathes of our coastline remain unspoiled and won't be built on because it's now a National Park.

Good luck with the synopsis.


Rachael Johns said...

So glad to have ya back. I myself have been pretty absent lately! hope you're okay medical wise :)

And thanks HUGELY for the Crowe pics - I'm quite partial to the lower one - lol!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Angie, I have a character sheet that may be quite useful for you. Drop me a line if you want to take a look at it and I'll email it to you. I had to do this for my latest story and it was VERY useful. And yeah, my problem was exactly the same - why were the two main characters perfect for each other? Somehow, I had forgotten that!
coates dot jackie at gmail dot com

Angie Peters said...

Hi Francine,

Thanks for the tips on how to write a synopsis. Need all the tips I can get :) Good point re: the double spacing vs single spacing, but I think HM&B specify two single spaced pages (I better go and check that out).

Ooh, your part of the world looks gorgeous. That coastline is beautiful :)

Angie Peters said...

Hi Rach,

I'm feeling much better now thanks. I've still been reading your blogs even though I've been quiet. Hope you don't have to wait too long to hear from the ed on your full.

I knew you'd like the bottom pic, LOL

Angie Peters said...

Cheers, Jackie. I really appreciate you wanting to share your character sheet with me. I remember your post about exactly this thing - but putting things into practice is a totally different ball game, isn't it?

Lacey Devlin said...

I remember you Angie! I do! I do!

I'm attempting an MOC too and it's basically giving me a coronary. Most writers seem to feel that way and actually even while I'm typing this I've just thought of another major problem with mine. I'm going to need chocolate.

Your course sounds like its going well, learning curve and all. You'll be able to look back and see how much you've grown as a writer.

Angie Peters said...

Aww, thanks Lacey! Good to know I'm not forgotten :)

MOC is tough. I remember Nicola Marsh commenting on this blog saying how difficult a hook it is to get right. The stubborn wench that I am - I was determined to get it right but I think it's more difficult in Modern Heat. Good luck with yours - yeah, lots of chocolate is mandatory, LOL.

You're absolutely right, of course. Look at the positive side - I *have* learnt a lot.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I am an awful synopsis writer! They're usually too long, too. I throw everything in but the kitchen sink. LOL

Angie Peters said...

Hi Jennifer,

I'm glad I'm not the only one then, LOL. Love your blog, BTW. Thanks for stopping by :)

Madeleine said...

Hi Angie, No you are definitely not wasting your time. It's all good experience. Don't lose heart. You are already a writer. Keep going. You probably already know this but sometimes it's good to get someone else to read the story out loud to you. (I make hubby do that for me) and to pop it in a drawer for a week or two and then revisit it with fresh eyes.

Angie Peters said...

Hi Madeleine,

Thanks for stopping by and my sincere gratitude for the encouragement! Especially at a time when I really, really need it :)

I'll try your tip - I've never tried having someone reading it out loud to me (hubbies are good for that, LOL).

I'll be popping by your blog to say hello...

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