Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Working with Lisa Again! August 22, 2011

Filed under: Editing,Life — justwritecat @ 10:30 pm

Thrilled….simply thrilled. I start working again with mega-editor, Lisa Rector-Maass, next month. I’ve taken all her input to heart, majorly revised (sure, it’s a word) my manuscript and am ready to take one more walk-through of Set ‘Em Up, Joe.

I’m so ashamed of the first manuscript I sent out…egads, how bad it was….so bad I should probably send a bottle of single malt to the agents who read it. At least the ones who offered to re-read once it was revised.¬† ūüôā Course, I didn’t realize how much work my manuscript needed until getting comments back from agents. And after working with Lisa the first go-round.

Without a doubt, the journey thus far has been amazing. I’ve learned a great deal about the craft of writing, yes….but also on how to be a writer. How to allow yourself to be vulnerable. To ‘go there’ in your writing. The first time around I didn’t want anything (too) bad to happen to my characters. Especially not Joe. After working with Lisa, I realized that conflict—in it’s many forms—is what drives a story. My characters must grow, and to do that – they also have to hurt.

This is gonna happen, folks. It has to.

Cat

 

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The First Fifty… July 27, 2010

Filed under: Editing,Writing — justwritecat @ 3:28 am
Tags: , , ,

Whew!¬† Two weeks of cold/allergies/who knows what else and I’m wiped out.¬† I didn’t write for an entire week.¬† Okay, three days but it seemed like for-ev-er.¬† I did a bit of revision work, but quickly realized that what one writes in an allergy-drug-induced state doesn’t always make sense the next day.¬† Non-drowsy, my a–.

So, the past three days have proven a bit more productive.¬† I’m off “my meds’ (hmmm, not sure that sounded right), and my mind’s clear and ready to get back to revision work.¬† My next session with Lisa is this week, so I’m excited.¬† To prep for the next call, I spent the last couple of days thinking about ‘the first fifty pages’.¬† My first fifty, to be exact.¬† Fifty pages seems to be the typical number of pages asked for in partial requests.¬† I’m not exactly sure why, but enough agents ask for that so there must be a good reason.¬† Just enough to get a solid idea on what’s going on, who the protagonist is, is this something I want to keep reading…that sort of thing, I guess.

So, to better consider if my first fifty have what it takes, I read (and reread) the first fifty pages of several urban fantasy books and took notes.¬† Here’s what I found out:

When I read the first fifty pages of several books, one of two things happened – either I found, on page fifty, that time had flown by and I didn’t want to stop reading.¬† OR, I held the book in my hand, trying to figure out just how much more I’d have to slug through based on the width of the book.¬† If it was an especially thick book, say 450 pages thick, I promptly placed the book in my ‘return to library’ bag.¬† If the book was oh, 250 pages thick…I gave it another twenty pages…and then put the book in the bag.¬† There really was no in between.¬† No, ‘well, it’s not that bad so I’ll keep reading because my other books are downstairs and it’s late and what if I get out of bed to go downstairs and I hear a sound and it’s a ghost or something’.¬† See how my mind works?¬† I either wanted to keep reading or I didn’t.¬† So – those pages either grab a reader and refuse to let go.¬† Or they don’t.¬† Of the half dozen or so books involved in this ‘test’, only two made the cut.¬†

Jim Butcher’s Changes (latest in the Dresden Files) and Joe Gores’ Spade &¬†Archer, the Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

I don’t know if you read The Dresden Files, but this last one is a doozy.¬† No spoilers, don’t worry.¬† I hate spoilers.¬† The series is about a wizard living in Chicago.¬† This guy – Harry Dresden¬† – has really, really bad luck much of the time.¬† He’s a good guy, a great guy – but crap is always happening to him.¬† Of course, that’s what makes the stories so fun to read.¬† You get to watch Harry deal with the crap in some very creative ways.¬† First fifty pages of Changes – no less than four major crap things happen to Harry.¬† Again, no spoilers – but as I took notes, I realized that there was more action in Butcher’s first fifty pages than I read in some entire books.¬† Lesson learned – things have to happen to your character!¬† Maybe not quite so much so soon, but enough.¬† Enough to keep you turning the pages all the way to the last one.¬† The author Piled.¬†It. On.

You also learn some things about Harry and the larger plot early on, some things that Make You Care about the character enough that you want him to win whatever it takes. 

I reread my first fifty.¬† First couple of chapters, hey – whaddya know, you do learn some things about Joe.¬† Things that pre-revision with Lisa, you didn’t learn until – drum roll – AFTER page fifty.¬† Egads.¬† Important things, things that matter.¬† Things that Make You Care.¬† But, too late.¬† Again, that was pre-revision, so I do feel good about my revised opening chapters.¬† There’s more tension, more going on – not just action, but things going on with Joe, with where he’s¬†at when the story starts and where he seems to be headed.¬† Not nearly as much happens in my first fifty as does in Changes – but, Changes is like book twelve or something in the series (I think).¬† So there’s been a tremendous amount of set-up, enough that you can bring back characters from previous books, have things happen to them or because of them, and the reader easily follows the plot.¬† Set ‘Em Up, Joe is the first in a (hopefully) series – so I might need to set things up more before all sorts of stuff happens to characters.¬† Not sure, will have to ask Lisa during our next session!

Gores’ Spade & Archer.¬† As one reviewer on the back cover stated – this book is ‘pitch perfect’.¬† The voice, oh my goodness, the voice.¬† And the language – this author clearly studied Hammett, read him, read other noir books – maybe all noir books – and then put his own spin on things.¬† From the first page, nay the first word, I am hooked.¬† I want to keep reading.¬† I’m having fun!¬†

Now, it’s not quite fair to say I learned so much about the character of Sam Spade in the first fifty because I already knew the character from Hammett’s books – and some of the films.¬† BUT…Gores presents a totally possible explanation for why Sam is the way he is.¬† You buy it, you see it playing out in your head, you are convinced Gores channeled Hammett somehow.¬† Not to undermine Gores’ talent….but it’s so darn…darn….pitch perfect that channeling had to have occurred.¬† First fifty – you understand Spade.¬† You get him.

My first fifty – yes, a tentative yes, but yes…I think you get Joe.¬† Get what makes his blood boil, what makes him react.¬† I believe you can see things playing out.¬† I’ve been told yes to these things by readers, but it’s hard to see it for yourself sometimes.¬†

So first fifty – give the reader something to care about, have your protag doing something that is worth caring about.¬† Make your character(s) real, find a way to connect to the reader.¬† Make bad things happen to your characters (conflict).¬† Don’t let up, don’t ease off.¬† Pile. It. On.¬†¬†

The books that made the bag rather than the cut?¬† Nothing was going on, or at least nothing that mattered to me.¬† In one case – things were happening, but none of it made sense.¬† It was as if the author tried to throw in every UF plot twist just to keep the reader’s attention.¬† It lacked focus.¬† One other book – I actually sort of read it through because I wanted to know how it ended.¬† I read the first fifty, uh, the skipped around.¬† Quite a bit.¬† Like to the end.¬† I know, I know – I hate doing that, but that was the book in my hands that night when I was suddenly afraid of the downstairs.¬† So, I read the end.¬† Um, and in the morning I took the sequel out of my¬†library queue.

Working on your first fifty?  Read other books in your genre, take notes Рthen apply to your own work. 

Happy Writing!

 

Some Things I’ve Realized… July 11, 2010

After three intense sessions with independent editor (and character therapist) Lisa Rector-Maass, I’ve realized a few things.

Some of my scenes, a few, are pretty decent.¬† The rest suck.¬† Not suck bigtime – well, maybe some.¬† More like suck, with potential.¬† Which is better than suck without any redeeming qualities.¬† So, I have hope.¬† And no, Lisa did not imply said suckage in any way.¬† It’s more of a personal realization.¬† She’s been nothing but encouraging and positive, which is really quite wonderful.

You can always push your characters more than you have.¬† Raise the stakes – both internal and external, turn the conflict and the tension up to high, push them to their breaking point.¬† Sometimes, it’s more interesting to see what happens if they actually break.¬†

You don’t¬†know your characters as well as you think you do.¬† Lisa asks questions about their motivations, history, goals, desires, fears – and even though I have answers for most of her questions (though not for all of my characters), I learn something new each time we discuss my novel.¬†¬†I’m struggling with my antagonist.¬† I can’t seem to get a handle on her past, which makes it difficult to know her motivations.¬† Lisa offered up this challenge:¬† Look at the¬†first fifty or one hundred pages from the antagonist’s point of view.¬† My first novel is in first person, so that was something I never considered (or would have).¬† She provided several questions and things to consider while I tackle this challenge – which I’m working on over the next several days.

When you revise, it can help to do so in layers.¬† Read your scene and/or chapter several times – each time looking for or working on specific things.¬† Tension, pacing, inner conflict, story development – whatever needs attention.¬† Everything’s connected, but if you try to tackle it all at once – you’ll get overwhelmed.¬† Or maybe you won’t, but I did.¬†

When you find someone who gets your writing – an editor, a writing buddy, someone from a crit group – it may help to work only with that person for some time.¬† Otherwise, if you get feedback from several different people at once – it can make it hard to know what you should or shouldn’t change.¬† I’m not saying getting input from several readers is a bad idea – it’s not.¬† But there’s a point when you’re either doing deep revision or even polishing a scene – and if there’s too much feedback or suggestions coming from all different directions, you don’t know who to listen to.¬† Too much noise, and you can’t hear the one person you really need to¬† – yourself.¬† Yes, get feedback and be open to it – but it’s okay to go with your own instinct.¬† Oh, but you can listen to your characters.¬† They usually know best.

One other thing I’ve realized – what matters is writing the best damn story you can.¬† Being true to your characters, to their story.¬† Heck yes, I hope to have an agent some day soon.¬† And to see my book(s) at Borders ūüôā¬† But right now – I’ve put those things out of my mind (as much as possible) and I’m focusing on my writing.¬† There’s a freedom in that.¬† And that freedom seems to…well, free me up to improve my craft.

And so the revisions continue.¬† More on working with Lisa after the next session (I’ve got several more to go)!

 

Working with Lisa Rector, We’re Only Getting Started… June 28, 2010

I had my first phone session with Lisa Rector last week.¬† Wow.¬† Um, she’s amazing.¬†¬† The session lasted two hours and was part therapy¬†(see below), part brainstorming session and part line by line¬†commentary.¬† And slightly overwhelming, but in a ‘there’s a ton of work ahead of me, but with her guidance I can do it’ kind of way.¬†¬†

To prep for the call, I sent her my first two chapters and ideas/general thoughts and questions (on those two chapters and the larger story).¬† We barely made it to the end of the first chapter.¬† ūüôā

Let me begin by saying that she is incredibly friendly and approachable.¬† I was a bit nervous given how – well, how good she is…but within seconds, she’d put me at ease.¬† When I’d contacted her to see if she could still work with me on my manuscript, I’d mentioned my less than positive experience with the previous editor.¬† Before we started on Set ‘Em Up, Joe – she asked me if I could share what happened.¬† I did (she’s a great listener), and then we talked about our expectations going in…and then she got right into things!

She asked me some questions about the overall story, but mainly she focused on characterization.¬† We discussed Joe’s motivations, which proved rather enlightening.¬† I spent a fair amount of time getting to know Joe before and during the writing of his story, but she helped me dig deeper into his psyche.¬† If Joe ever agreed to go to therapy, I believe this is what it would be like!¬† She even apologized for asking so many questions, which wasn’t necessary.¬† I enjoyed discussing Joe and the novel, and her questions helped me think about things I hadn’t fully considered.¬†

We worked through part of the first chapter – not line by line exactly, more like by paragraph.¬† She pointed out the paragraphs that stood out for her, the ones that ‘were all Joe’.¬† She suggested ways to lighten some of the exposition and to heighten the tension.¬† All of this was helpful, but what I really got out of this first session was to ‘go there’.

Lisa¬†encouraged me to stop pulling back.¬†¬†She told me that I was on the cusp of making Joe a fully realized vampire unique from other vampires.¬† Now given how many vampires are out there (uh, in books) – that was an amazing compliment.¬† She said I just had to stop pulling back.¬† I understood what she meant.¬† I’m constantly struggling with how far to take things or rather, how vulnerable I should make Joe.¬† Which is directly tied to how vulnerable I allow myself to be as a writer (and as a person in general).¬† Yikes, who is on the couch now??

I know I have revision work ahead of me, but rather than feeling overwhelmed – I’m eager, excited and relieved.¬† Eager to make my novel ‘more’ (more of whatever it needs to be for readers).¬† Excited by the deeper plot lines and character motivations that will follow.¬† And relieved Lisa will be there to guide me and to let me know what I’m doing right and not quite right.¬†

For the first time since starting to work on Set ‘Em Up, Joe – I¬†have this weird kind of confidence thing going on.¬† Like, maybe I might be able to write after all.¬† Not stellar or anything right now, but enough to feel good about what I’m doing.¬†¬†That the efforts I’ve made thus far are not a waste, that¬†I’m heading in the right direction and learning, learning, learning along the way.¬†¬†¬†

See, I always thought writers were born that way.¬† And that either you had it or you didn’t.¬† If you had it, you’d know rather early in life.¬† Maybe pen a few gems in your alphabet soup or in crayon on your bedroom walls.¬† At least by high school.¬† If you didn’t have it, well – hey, what else are you good at?¬† Cooking?¬† Sure, why not.¬† Everyone needs to eat.¬† Teaching?¬† That’s good, too.¬† Everyone needs to learn something.¬† Turns out, you can learn anything.¬† Like how to be a writer.¬† Yes, some writers are born with it.¬† Some show their talent early and often.¬† But some don’t – until they turn forty and realize there’s nothing stopping ’em but their own doubt.¬† Doubt’s a heavy thing to wear for long.¬†¬†It’ll keep you grounded, and then how will your dreams take flight?

Wow, how’s that for my first two-hour session with Lisa?¬† I wonder what the next call will bring?¬†

 

A Different Type of Revision Process June 20, 2010

I start working with editor Lisa Rector next week.¬†¬† Wednesday, to be exact.¬† And yes, I’m counting down the hours.¬† I’m super excited about working with her, even though I know there will be a great deal of revision work involved.¬† I don’t mind revision work (it’s so much better than writing the first draft, imo).¬† The hard part is finding someone who gets your writing and your story, someone who can guide you as you try to make your novel all it can be.¬† I posted about this last week – why I feel this will prove a good fit.¬† But basically, everything she said in her initial emails resonated with me.¬† My instinct tells me I’m going to learn so much about improving my craft…and you have to trust that instinct.

The way this is going to work is this – we’ll have a series of phone calls to review my completed manuscript Set ‘Em Up, Joe.¬† Each call will last between one to two hours (total of ten hours for the package of sessions).¬† We’ll handle about twenty pages per call, going over any issues/shortcomings.¬† I think the real-time feedback I will get as we review each page/line will prove amazingly helpful.¬†¬†And efficient – I’ll be able to get immediate feedback on possible ways to change the plot/story instead of rewriting and waiting for the thumbs up or down.¬† I like efficient.

The really cool thing about this process –¬†as I revise the pages we cover each session, I can resubmit them to her for a quick second look.¬† Also, I can send in chapter outlines, goals, ideas for changes – anything that might help us during the review sessions.¬† I really love that…it helps her see my¬†vision/goals for each chapter and for the larger story arc.¬†¬†And of course, with her guidance I’ll be able to ensure those goals are met¬†(or change them if they’re not working).

In the contact email I sent to Lisa, I included¬†the novel synopsis and first¬†five pages.¬†¬†In her reply she offered¬†her initial thoughts on the pages.¬† And wow, just those initial comments¬†helped¬†me rethink some major things in my novel.¬† I’m going to include some of the things she mentioned, because I think it raises questions worth asking when reviewing any manuscript.¬† If readers are telling you the plot is not engaging enough or they don’t get why they should care – maybe you can apply some of the comments below to your own work.

(this is paraphrased, with my own comments italicized)

What is the larger threat?¬† Readers need to get an idea of that threat right away – in the first pages.¬† In other words, why should anyone care?¬† This is related to What’s at Stake?¬† Personal stakes, societal stakes – something has to matter, and in a big way.

There must be a sense of urgency in what’s going on.¬† Certainly related to stakes, but also to tension.¬† Readers must feel that things are happening, or might happen if the protag doesn’t act/do something.¬† Right now.

Conflict.  Stories are all about conflict.  Inner conflict, outer conflict, the intersection of the two (especially).  There can be no easy choices, no clear ways out. 

To prep for the first call,¬†I went ahead and revised the first chapter to address the things mentioned above.¬† I made some major changes, and also worked on adding line-by-line tension.¬† I think it’s better, more intriguing – a stronger sense of why things matter (to the reader, to Joe).¬† I introduced a change to his existence, once that has him uneasy and uncertain of how to proceed.¬† Joe likes to be in control, to know what to expect…so hopefully this will start to address inner conflict.¬†

Rewriting those pages involved some work, but really – it was more a matter of approaching things differently.¬† Of trying to decide how to put Joe at a clear disadvantage at the start of the story.¬† And to set things up to get much, much worse.¬† Before, I wanted things to be sort of tough…but not too much at first.¬† That is not tension.¬† Certainly not enough to hold a reader’s attention.¬† I know I’m going to have to keep working at the tension aspect.¬† Putting Joe and the other characters – and me, for that matter – in places that are beyond uncomfortable.¬† Places that are ugly, places that most people don’t want to be.¬†

But that’s fiction.¬† It should be ‘more than’ real life.

 

Hesitation… June 14, 2010

Filed under: Editing,Life,Writing,You Can't Do It Alone — justwritecat @ 2:47 am

So, I got a ‘pass’ from the agent who requested my full manuscript.¬† I must admit, I wasn’t too surprised.¬† I was bummed – it was my birthday after all (the day I received the email), but I wasn’t surprised.¬† Here’s why…

Earlier this year I worked with an editor on my first novel, Set ‘Em Up, Joe.¬† I’ve blogged about the experience, but the short of it – it was not the best experience for me.¬† I did receive some good feedback, but I don’t think the match was ideal (editor-writer).¬† And that’s an important part of the equation – finding someone who gets your writing, who understands your vision.¬† As a result of the experience, my confidence suffered a bit.¬† Enough to keep me from writing for about three weeks.¬† After working with the editor, I felt unsure of myself (and of my story, my characters, and everything else).¬†

And that uncertainty manifested itself when I did start writing again.¬†¬† Not good.¬† I allowed my insecurity to hold me back, to hold my characters back.¬† And it showed in my writing.¬† As I revised, I wrote from a place of safety.¬† I tested the waters, pushing my characters only as far as I felt comfortable doing so.¬† At the time I didn’t realize I was doing this, but looking back it’s clear I gave my characters easy ways out.¬† Which didn’t make for high-stakes tension in my novel.¬† The agent who passed told me she loved the voice, but the plot was not engaging enough.¬† Fair enough.

About a week before I received that pass, I realized that my manuscript was not all it could be.¬† I don’t know how I came to that realization, it just hit me one day.¬† So when I got that email, as I stated – no big surprise.¬†

I¬†believe in my characters and my novel.¬† I¬†sincerely feel the potential is there…my novel just didn’t live up to that potential.¬† But I believe it can.¬†Which is why shortly after¬†receiving that pass, I contacted another editor.¬† This editor was someone I’d contacted before – and she’d¬†offered to take on my manuscript, but I’d gone with someone¬†close by so I could meet in person.¬†¬†I was thrilled when this new editor gave me a second opportunity to get her input.¬† We exchanged a couple of emails, and then scheduled our first phone consult (in two weeks).¬†

How do I know this editor is the right one?¬† Here’s one reason – after reading my first five pages she mentioned something that resonated with me so completely, I just knew I was in for an amazing learning experience.¬† She stated that, as a reader, she hesitated because she sensed my hesitation as a writer.¬† Let me write that again…

As a reader she hesitated because she sensed my hesitation as a writer.

Wow.  Bingo.  Exactly. 

You cannot write from a safe place.  You cannot hold back.  You cannot hesitate.

You have to¬†push your characters¬†to places that are so beyond comfortable, that you almost (or do) squirm in your seat while writing the scenes.¬† If you’re like me and you prefer endings not totally devoid of happiness, fine – give your characters what you want them to have…in the end.¬† But rake them through the goals before they get there.¬† Push them to their breaking points, give them horrible choices and make them do things that they don’t want to do.¬† It’s the only way to create inner and outer tension – which is the only way to keep readers engaged.¬† If everything is hunky-dory (or worse, so-so), what’s the point of reading the story?¬†

In real life, most of us avoid conflict.¬† We don’t like tense situations.¬† Tension leads to stress, which leads to sleepless nights, body aches and overtime at the gym because we look to chocolate for moments of peace.¬† Or maybe that’s just me.¬† Whatever, what we try to avoid in real life we often seek in fiction.¬† And that includes tension.¬† You cannot achieve this state unless you push your characters and push yourself as a writer.

Don’t hesitate.¬†

More on my experiences with this editor as the work begins, but for now let me say that I’m eager, ready and willing to not hesitate.¬† Oh, and I’ve already thought of ways to push Joe to some very, very difficult places.¬† He won’t be happy.¬† But happy is not the emotion I’m trying to invoke in my readers.

 

And I Have Issues? April 7, 2010

Filed under: Editing,Life — justwritecat @ 4:28 am

So, this is the post I’ve been putting off.¬† Not because I’m a procrastinator¬†by nature (I’m not), and not because I don’t have anything to say about this particular experience.¬† I’m torn between wanting to maintain a positive approach to my writing experiences….and wanting to be 100% honest about my experiences.¬† Honesty wins.

I’ve blogged about working with a developmental editor, and in those posts mostly positive things were discussed.¬† This is the post about the not-so-positive part of the experience.¬† The part that has me regretting working with this specific editor and doubting some of his feedback (which means, doubting the revisions I’ve made).¬† Here goes.

The protagonist of Seeing Red: Set ‘Em Up, Joe (which may be changed to Seeing Red) is a guy by the name of – Joe Cooper.¬† He’s the kind of guy other guys want to be like, the kind of guy women plain want.¬† He’s a bit of a cad on the exterior, but his heart’s in the right place and his intentions are good.¬† In this novel (the first of what I hope becomes a series), Joe hooks up with a gal named Pamela.¬† Now, Joe likes Pamela.¬† Quite a bit.¬† And that’s kinda hard for Joe because he’s a vampire and always on the run for a couple of reasons.¬† Pamela is a human – one who has no idea that vampires exist.¬† So Joe tries to keep his distance, for her sake (and for his).¬† One of the ways Joe does this is by keeping the relationship not too serious (and Pamela is fine with this).¬† He also flirts with other women.¬† Or rather, one in particular.¬† Detective Grace Gutierrez, the officer working the murders Joe is trying to solve.¬†

The developmental editor said that Joe should be 100% monogamous with Pam.¬† That he shouldn’t even look at another woman, much less flirt.¬† That his doing so makes Joe seem weak and despicable.¬† When he returned my manuscript, all the scenes/lines where Joe flirted with Grace were deleted and a few disparaging remarks were made about the character (Grace) because she shows some interest in Joe.¬†

I read his comments and admittedly, quickly ignored them.¬† I wasn’t about to change that aspect of Joe’s personality.¬† Joe’s a bit of a cad like that, perhaps – but that is who he is.¬†

When the editor and I had our one-hour phone consult about his suggestions/deletions/possible revisions, I did not bring up the whole flirting issue.¬† Near the end of the call, he did.¬† And that’s when things went downhill – and damn fast.¬† I said that Joe was a flirt, but nothing more (he doesn’t sleep with the Detective, just with Pamela).¬† I explained that his flirting was a way of keeping things ‘safe’ for him, of keeping his distance from Pamela instead of admitting to himself how much Pam really means to him.¬† But that¬†by the middle of the novel¬†he realizes what Pamela means, and he stops flirting with Grace.¬†

The editor implied that was unacceptable.  I say implied, because I do not recall his exact words.  That part of the conversation is a blur of insults and shouts.  Yes, he was literally yelling at me over the phone about this issue.  Methinks there exists a spot that is sore.

We went back and forth on the whole ‘why Joe is like that’ thing, and without giving away too much about Joe’s history – essentially, he suffered a great loss when he was human and is now afraid to get too close to anyone for fear of losing them, too.¬† So partly it is his fear of loss, but mainly – of someone getting hurt because he gets¬†too close to them.¬† When I explained this, the editor accused me of thinking that all men who lose someone (say, a widower) must be cads because I think they would they start sleeping around with a bunch of women.¬†

Now, I don’t ever recall implying I think all widowers or anyone who loses someone starts shagging crazy.¬†And in my novel, Joe doesn’t sleep around.¬† He flirts around.¬† And sorry, but I think there’s a difference.¬† Do I think it is o.k. for someone in a committed relationship to flirt around – no, but Joe’s not in a committed relationship at the start of the novel (when he flirts with the other woman).¬† When he realizes how much Pam means – he stops the flirting, as I mentioned.

The editor hated this.¬† Really hated it.¬† I think he said a few other not-so-nice things – by then, my own blood was boiling.¬† I said I realized he didn’t like it, but it was my book and my characters and I was not going to delete those lines/scenes at this point.¬† Now, if an agent or an editor at a publishing house said – hey, you need to get rid of these lines because I don’t like him flirting around – then I would consider it.¬† But not until then, because I liked that part of Joe’s character and I’d been told by many readers they liked it too.¬† The editor replied with this “I don’t think people like him as much as you think they like him.”¬† This coming from the same man who told me he really liked Joe (right up to the point where I refused to make one of his suggested changes).

And please note – I did follow many of his suggestions, even ones I was not 100% sure about at first.¬† This was the one thing that felt wrong for me to change.¬† And it is my story and my characters¬† – if I won’t be true to them, who will?

Whew.  I feel like I just finished writing a scene from a soap opera.  Such melodrama!  It took me close to three weeks to get over that phone call.  To look past the shouting and the insults and gain the little bit of confidence I had back.  And that is really the worst part of it Рthat I allowed someone else to chip away at my confidence.  Shame on him for acting in such an unprofessional manner.  Shame on me for letting it get to me that way. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve given serious thought to some of the suggestions he made.¬† The ones that didn’t feel wrong, but didn’t feel 100% right either.¬† I’ve had to find a way back to trusting my own instincts – and that is not an easy thing for me to do when it comes to my writing.¬† As I’ve mentioned in other posts. this is new for me – and risky.¬† And I’m not usually good with risk.¬† But you know what – I want this and I believe in myself and in my characters and in their stories.¬†

I am open to feedback.¬† Honestly –¬†I just don’t need the name-calling/shouting ¬†to go along with it.¬† That is kind of an instant turn-off, wall-up thing for me.¬† But whatever the feedback, whatever changes you make – when it comes down to it, it has to feel right to you.¬† It has to make sense to your story and be true to your characters.¬†

When I first considered working with a developmental editor, an agent (one who is open to re-reading my revised manuscript) gave me this advice – if you work with a freelance developmental editor, make sure he or she gets your writing.¬† Make sure he gets you.¬† Superb advice.¬† Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to check for that fit when I started the search for an editor.¬† Now, I do.

Thanks for reading –

Cat