Saturday, May 05, 2007

That Holiday Feeling

It's a long weekend here in the UK so the weather has gone off..... bl...dy typical. It has been a glorious week and now that Saturday is here it is cloudy and damp.......yuck.

I have loved learning more about my fellow racers. As one racer pointed out in the comments you see a different view of them than on their blogs......true and that's part of the reason for doing it. The other for me was to just highlight how different writers are yet we all work to the same goal. More writers profiled next week!

How's my writing going you wonder. Well, it hasn't been. This week I promised myself that I would read A Cornish House. I have read to page 68. Not very far you say. True. Interestingly it is not because I am disgusted with it. It's not bad - so far. It's because at the back of my mind I have this question lurking - should this be rewritten as a YA novel with Serena's pov the whole way through??? My reader, who is well qualified thinks this is the way to go. I respect her opinion. Serena is a brilliant character and I do handle her well - even I can see that in the first 68 pages. But then I ask myself do I really want to write YA? The answer is I don't know. First I have not read much if any really - unless you count Harry Potter. However I have two readers of YA in the house. I find myself wondering how I would feel about them reading Serena's story. I didn't hold back on her. Her language is colourful and her thoughts direct which I felt in an adult novel is fine. How would I feel about my kids reading it? Not quite as sure but that is not enough to put me off entirely. I can see how the book could be very well told from Serena's view point, but if it sold the publisher would need to know I have more in me and at this moment I don't know if I have more YA's in me because this is new territory. I certainly know I have more women's fiction in me.........The war inside rages on.

On another point, the reader flagged up my biggest weakness as a writer. Before I go into that I want to say she also highlighted my strengths and didn't tell me to pack it in. But I do have a big weakness, my plots are to predictable. You can see the end from the beginning. One knows that Madde will end up with Mark and likewise in August Rock you know that Judith will end up with Tristan. I need to shake it up a bit more. This was on my mind last night when I watched the film, The Holiday. It's light, probably not unlike my plot, when an unexpected thing was thrown in and suddenly I thought that's what my books need. (Spoiler ahead if you haven't seen the film) This moment was when Cameron Diaz goes to Jude Law's house and she hears noise. One assumes he's entertaining a woman as that is what we have been led to believe about this character but no it turns out he's a widow and the noise are his two daughters. I didn't expect it and I enjoyed their story line in the film more after that. Light bulb moment? Maybe........

So I have done a fair bit of navel gazing this week. I have wondered if I have what it takes to write a really gripping novel. I have proved I can write and parts of it I can do well. I have also proved that I can learn from past mistakes. In August Rock my secondary character weren't as well drawn as they could be - in A Cornish House that was one of the strengths. My dialogue is good. My voice is good. Pacing is right except that its too predictable. Do I have it in me to fix this key flaw? I'd like to think so but it remains to be seen. So while I am wrestling with the YA question I'm feeling I should go back to A Cornish House as I conceived it and see if I can fix the problem.........

Finally on craft note - over on C.S. Harris's blog, http://csharris.blogspot.com/2007/05/getting-it-wrong.html, she speaks about how she dealt with two scenes that weren't working. She then tells how she fixed it. I found this really helpful especially as I will be doing a scene by scenes analysis soon. Well worth a look.

12 comments:

sheepish said...

The fact that you can accept criticism and try to do something about it is in itself really positive. Maybe that film last night was just what you needed to show you a way forward. I am a great believer in fate and that somehow you will work out what needs to be done. The very fact of completing two novels is brilliant and you obviously realize that your work is improving. What more can any of us ask?
Be positive and keep on reading, the answers will appear. Good luck.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Sheepish. It helps to have someone else take a look at your thoughts and put a different spin on them :-)

leatherdykeuk said...

*looks out of the window*

I'm sure the weather will pick up. It's been cloudy morning - sunny afternoon most of the week.

liz fenwick said...

One can but hope :-)

NoviceNovelist said...

Liz, you have such a balanced and thoughtful attitude here to your writing - I know you will fathom this crossroads and pick the right course - one of the best bits and scariest bits about writing is that everything can be undone, rewritten and redirected - it's being brave enough and having the faith to take the leap in the first place that is the critial part. You have written two novels which is an astounding achievement. I've no doubt you will resolve this to your satisfaction. I'm sitting here on sat morning not having written a word all week because I'm scared that I've hit a crossroads and I don't know which way to go. I'm just going to be brave, plunge oin and pick one direction and if it doesn't work - try the other one! Good luck Liz - look forward to hearing how you're doing with this.

hesitant scribe said...

It's a tough one is criticism. I just had a story pulled apart by the lovely Andrew Oldham, and it took me a few days to see past the negatives to find that there was actually a lot of positive stuff in there too! At the time, I took it graciously on the chin, and bit my tongue, tried not to argue with him. I'm glad I didn't now because his advice as an editor was invaluable. I'm going to rewrite it eventually but for now, am putting what he's taught me into the novel/collection instead.

I think we're lucky to have talented readers who can help us be editors when we're in the creative mode!

Well done, BTW, on completing your novel. I am in awe and it gives me the kick up the derriere I so need to see people reaching the end. *bows down repeatedly at your feet*

cs harris said...

I had three unpublished books when I asked a helpful writer what she thought my weakness was. She said, "Plotting." I'll admit I was a bit miffed, but determined. I read everything I could on plotting, tightened my next book, and sold it. I then completely reworked the plot of my previous manuscript and sold it, too. Knowing what's wrong is a huge part of being able to fix it. (Knowing something is beyond fixing is also important--I never bothered to try to redo the first two books--I decided I'd rather spend the time on something fresh.)

liz fenwick said...

Thanks for the support, IsabllaM. It helps believe me.

You are so right Lisa. Critism is tough to take some time....well it used to be. I really don't mind now which is probably because thus far no has told me to pack it in!

C.S. thanks for the encouraging words. Its good to know others have made it through the dark side. Off to read all I can about plotting. I know I can make it somehow :-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I am reading your response to your feedback with a combination of vicarious thrill and anticipatory nausea, as I get mine in a week or two. As writers, we need to be able to use intelligent feedback, but it's soooo hard! I find reading 'how to' books really helpful, I've got about 20 on my shelf and I dip in and out of them regularly. I hope they help you too. Might be worth reading a couple of well-regarded YA novels as well, if only speculatively; you could ask your kids for their recommendations. Seems to me you're doing really well - it's great that you're aware of your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Best of luck.

liz fenwick said...

Zinnia, I'm sure your feed back will be good. Mine was, truthfully. I just need to fix the weeknesses. I am going back to Solutions for Writers which helped me so much the first time and also to Donald Maas. Then one from there......... :-)

Jan said...

There's so much fabulous advice/knowledge here.
I'm returning later to take it all in properly.
Thankyou for all this, Liz.
It's a wonderful learning curve too.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan. I'm learning!!!! Today I must sit and read my own work while reading the craft books!