Web Blog of Connie Vines, author or multi-genre fiction. Awards: H.O.L.T. Medallion (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent), Orange Rose, Award of Excellence--Contemporary Romance; Independent eBook Award, Dream Realm Award. National Book Award and Frankfurt Book Award, nominee--YA Historical Fiction. Blog includes guest bloggers and snippets of WIP.
This is the title because sometimes that is how I feel about the
work of writing.
I’ve been bashing my head against one particular story for
months. In this case, it’s a book that was “supposed to be” a romance, the
second in a projected series. As everyone who has ever tried to construct
a basic, old-fashioned romance novel knows, this can be trickier than it seems.
Conventionally, for starters, you have the heroine and you
have a couple of guys who will be Mr. Wrong and Mr. Right. You will,
eventually, in the course of an engaging, warm-hearted story, find a satisfying
resolution.Sounds easy, right? Just a formula!
(And, if you think that, I have a bridge I think you'd like to buy.)
I now understand that I set myself up for this by creating a
heroine whose problem is that she is too pretty. She’s the girl
who fits every 1870’s guy’s idea of the perfect box of candy. (From a
historical perspective, perhaps her good looks have gone out of fashion, but we're in another time, so how would we know? All we do know is that she turns them on.)
For the young lady I created three principal suitors. I’d
decided in advance which of the three would be the one to win her hand. Her
choices: a wounded veteran who is now a minister, a farrier/farmer whose pride and joy
is his trotting horse, or a natty gentleman with an inheritance, good looks and
a few bad habits.
If you are a writer, you’ve probably had characters rebel,
take issue with your plans. First came the young lady, who tossed her head and
told me that she was a material girl and not at all like her earnest elder sister,
sweet Sophie of Hand-me-Down Bride.The
men proved difficult to bring to life. Their outlines stubbornly remained vague. Finally,
the heroine, tapping her cute little foot, said that for various reasons not one of these men,
as now drawn, would do. On top of the heroine's dissatisfaction, the skeptical old woman inside me kept muttering
how not one of these potential unions had "a snow ball’s chance in hell” of enduring for the long haul.
This was/is discouraging. It messes with my sleep, so I lie for
hours each night trying to get a scene with this cast of actors to run. I've tried many ways of making this story work. I've lost my temper and tried to hammer my square pegs into round holes. I've added more angst and then taken it out again. I've thought of writing in (and a job of work is that!) Suitor #4 and/or changing one of the Mr. Wrongs into Mr. Right.
In the meantime, other stories keep knocking on the door bearing strong images and smart bits of dialogue, dancing seductively in the costume of another time period, all calling for attention. Potential solutions--the light at the end of tunnel--disappear just before I arrive. Clearly, the secret is hidden inside one of these characters, something about one them remains undiscovered.
And now it's time to go to bed and think about it a little more. I have faith. Sooner or later, one of these guys will set me straight . Then the rest will be duck soup.