Last Seen: Weaving through the 226 page manuscript; Who Needs Romeo, A Tale of a Modern Day Juliet
upon Disappearance: Unfocused,
scattered. Unable to string together cohesive story Mind
A few months ago, I submitted my rom/com manuscript to a publishing company I respect. It was read by an editor I greatly admire and was ultimately rejected. But and this but is huge, (and not to be confused with my own ever expanding katookis) two great things occurred:
- I received a very useful critique outlining what they loved and what they, ahem, not so much loved.
- I was asked to revise and resubmit my novel.
Most often we’re treated with a Whitney Houston rendition that leaves us all cheering in our living rooms.
That’s the opportunity I’ve been given. Now I just have to send them my best, most perfect rewrite that leaves them speechless, with contract in hand. Gulp.
Since receiving this valuable critique, I have been focusing my attention on the character arc. I need to show the protagonist, Julia, significantly changing from the start of the story to the climax where her big decision leaves the reader thinking, “Aha! Of course she’d do that!”
I’ve rewritten portions of the story, again and again, each time unsatisfied with the result. Every time left feeling slightly more uncertain and with head in hands, wailing,
“What if I can’t do this?!”
This struggle has been going on for a few months now. Sadly, not an exaggeration.
This past weekend was our 2nd Annual Anita Factor Writing Retreat and I went with one goal in mind – to fix this story!
I knew it wouldn’t be simple, so I took along supplies and reference materials; Writing Great Books for Young Adults, by Regina Brooks, to guide me; For Writers Only, by Sophy Burnham, to inspire me; and Helene Boudreau’s synopsis outline to focus me. Oh yes, and bags of macaroons, rosettes, and mini peanut butter cups. Like gas for a car, chocolate fuels my creativity. No need to judge. And yes, I realize my fondness for all things sweet may be the cause for my aforementioned tuckis expansion.
I began, by drawing out my story arc like so:
and very quickly realized my plot points, well, sucked.
In an attempt to calm my rising panic, I read a section on character motivation from Writing Great Books and it dawned on me.
Shouldn’t Julia be more affected by the inciting incident? Shouldn't this event rock her to her core? Shake her very soul?
Because if she isn't greatly affected, there is no reason to be interested in her journey, no reason to care about her, and most importantly; There. Is. No. Plot.
By then I was hyperventilating, so I fled to the beach to clear my head and to avoid the curious glances of my fellow Anitas. I tucked For Writers Only under my arm, to ensure my moment of despair didn’t evolve into a crisis of confidence.
|Grinstone Provincial Park, Manitoba|
After strolling along the sand, staring out on the vast beauty of
Lake Winnipeg, my plot sailed into my head.
I actually spoke these words out loud, “Of course, she is devastated by the break up. I must show this in every thought, action, and reaction.”
Why is this "aha" discovery important?
Because it’s the crux of my lost plot. It’s what motivates the main character through the remainder of the story. It drives all further action.
So thank you
, Sophy Burnham, and Helene
You helped me find what was right there in front of me all this time.
I highly recommend these writing resources:
Helene Boudreau's Blog:
Check out her Real Mermaid's series: