Thursday, August 11, 2011

This-n-That Thursday

How many times have you experienced the satisfaction of completing a manuscript? Once? Five times? Still trying to make it to “the end?”

Writing is hard work. Most—if not all of us—have learned that. Maybe I should re-phrase that. Writing well is hard work.

I just completed revisions on a 91K contemporary romance that I plan to pitch at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in September. I’ve worked on this story for a long time, but I’m confident that it’s finally ready and worthy to present.

Schedules, time constraints, and editing other people’s projects weren’t the only reasons it took two years to complete the manuscript. 

Although my crit partners fell in love with the hero, they just couldn’t bond with the heroine. I entered several writing contests, and some judges also agreed that the heroine needed to be more likeable. No matter how many times I rewrote chapters, they still weren’t working. The story was based on a theme that was worthy, but it was strangling me in how I needed to present the heroine’s character. 

Then I had an “ah-ha” moment, and I let go of the original theme. By embracing a new message—an even more relatable theme—the heroine grew not only likable, but lovable. I rewrote some chapters and added new ones. But the basic story remained the same. I was set free. Words flowed and the story gained more depth. It all came together and made sense.

It was like hiking up a hill through dense woods on a hot day, stumbling over tree roots, swatting gnats and deer flies. Then suddenly breaking into an opening and discovering a sparkling, clear lake at my feet. Refreshing!
Sometimes we need to let go of what’s not working in our stories …

Once I finally stopped holding on so tight to how I believed the story should be written, I allowed God to show me what he wanted. 

Are you struggling with your current manuscript? Is there something you’ve been stubborn about changing? Even though your crit partners and your own gut have been nudging you in that direction?

Has there ever been time when you were willing to try a new direction in your story and it made all the difference?  Please share it with us!

Let’s keep pressing on to “the end.”

Happy writing!
~ Dawn


  1. Dawn, I think making the heroine likeable, or lovable, can be one of the most daunting challenges in a romance, especially. How to make her strong and independent, yet still vulnerable and identifiable? In my case, I kept changing my heroine's character based on what I knew about specific agents and what they liked. But, in doing so, I lost my own unique voice. It was when I finally said, "Enough!" and went back and basically rewrote parts of the first three chapters that it all finally came together. But it took some time. I think the book is stronger for it as a result. Crit partners are great, too, but never lose your own unique voice because it's your story and you're the only one who can tell it. I'll be praying for you as your present your manuscript at the ACFW. Sounds like you're ready! Blessings.

  2. What a thought-provoking post, Dawn. I'd never considered that the theme might be an obstacle to a hero/heroine's likability. Hmmm...

  3. JoAnn, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! I never thought it would be difficult to make a heroine likeable. After all, she's the heroine! LOL But wow, I really struggled with her character arc.I agree that we need to keep true to our own voice, but I had to take a serious look at how the character came across after six people gave me the same feedback. LOL

    I'm so looking forward to meeting you at the conference! Thanks for your prayers. They are much appreciated.

    I need to finish reading another author's novel in time to write a review for a blog tour, but then I'm diving into "Awakening." Can't wait! :-D

  4. Hi, Dora! Thanks for stopping by today. I appreciate you letting me know that you enjoyed the article. That made my day! I love to provoke--"thinking," that is ... ;-)

  5. This is great!
    How encouraging to see how you can get so stuck and then be able to find a better direction by listening to God.

    That has happened to me too. I've been writing a book, "From Stuck to Success" and sometimes when I'm not sure where to go, I will pause and say, "Holy Spirit, what do you want to say?" It's interesting how sometimes He will take me a whole different direction, other times I sense I am in sync with Him.

    By the way, I love your simile and word picture. I forwarded it on to one of my students who just completed the lesson learning about similes and metaphors. She had asked for more examples so your post was so timely. I sent it to her and highlighted the simile. Plus she is writing a novel and I thought she would benefit from your journey.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

    Keep up the good writing!

    Sharon Gibson

  6. Thanks, Sharon! I appreciate your comments. It's so uplifting for me to know that my words and experiences have possibly encouraged or helped someone else. :-D

  7. I've written over five novels, which are still sitting on my computer and need rewriting. The ideas are good but I really need to develop the characters more and work on the plot. Someday, I hope to get back to them and do that, but right now, the thought of tackling a novel is rather daunting. Thanks for sharing your story... that gives me hope about going back to rewrite sections of my novels!

  8. Hi, Koala Bear Writer! You've written five novels--give yourself credit for sticking with it and finishing them! Many people give up before reaching the end. I think it's really worth going back and taking a second look at those manuscripts and reworking them.

    Personally, staring at a blank computer screen and trying to get that first draft down is difficult. I much prefer the editing and revising process. I have several manuscripts that I've let sit for awhile, and I'm going to go back and rework them. We gain skills the more we write, and I think I've learned some things that will make those novels better.


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