Thursday, February 18, 2010
Status of Emma's Outlaw
After months of working on Emma's Outlaw, I’m at the final stages of revision and ready to send the manuscript (ms) out for critiques. So, I confidently emailed the 2 Inkies and my critique partner my 15 page entry plus synopsis.
Within days, I was reeling. Positively floundering.
I wandered the house in a daze wondering what I was supposed to do now. I mean, I know I haven’t finaled with this entry yet, but everyone seemed to like it. And yes, the Inkies liked it, too. And they said they could tell I did a lot of research. But it really needs work.
Basically, here’s what they said:
- Conflict - Not enough conflict to carry the book to 90,000 words. I thought having Emma as the victim and Dan as the abductor was enough of an external conflict. It isn’t. As Dan develops feelings for her, he could turn against the gang and let Emma go. Snap conflict over. Well, I knew that but had been naively hoping it would be overlooked. I guess not.
- Pacing – The inkies were divided over where I needed to work on this but they all agreed it needs work. I've explained the biggest problem below.
- Synopsis - in the one page single-spaced synopsis we’re allowed, I’ve explained the complete story, however I haven’t shown the required character or spiritual arcs.
After coddling me for a bit, Gina, Deb and Gwen joined me through emails and chats in several brainstorming sessions. I liked some of their ideas, threw some out, and created others. Here are the results:
- Conflict – I'm giving Dan a legitimate reason for being with the gang other than that he's trying to prove himself. Emma is still an innocent bystander but now she's in the way as her presence and actions create havoc for Dan and his mission. He's trying to lead the gang one way and Emma’s doing everything she can to stop them from going anywhere. Yet helping her escape will blow his cover.
- Pacing – It was suggested I cut down the abduction scene to just a few sentences. I positively bristled. It took me so long to write that action scene to ensure I got it perfect with all the sounds and smells Emma experiences. I decided it was one of those things where subjectivity comes in and I’d leave it alone. But when I went back and re-read the comments, I latched onto the main one… there really wasn’t enough time to experience all what I’d written in the few seconds it would have taken in real time. So, I’m agreeing it was too much however, I’ve decided to put my own spin on it. Instead of writing it in Emma’s Point of View (POV), I’m switching to Dan’s. The reader is going to guess what Emma is going through as they abduct her so I shouldn’t have to state the obvious. But, what is Dan thinking? Dan is a good guy and suddenly, he’s part of something he totally disagrees with. Everything in him is screaming, ‘No!’ and yet if he objects too strongly, he’ll blow his cover. Can I write his POV in a few sentences as they grab the girl and make a run for it? I’m working on it.
- Synopsis – A synopsis isn’t just for the storyline. It’s about the characters, too. (See Jana’s post on Monday) You need to show who the characters are, what they’re faced with, how they dealt with it and what they’ve learned. (Thank you, Gina.) That’s the character arc. And in an inspirational romance, which this is, I need to show a spiritual arc along the same lines. In the process of thinking about rewriting my synopsis, I realized one thing… although I’ve written both character and spiritual arcs for Dan in the story, Emma has neither. She’s a nice, good Christian girl at the start and a nice, good Christian girl at the end. And except for a couple heart-stopping moments, she levels out. But that’s not going to work, is it? Emma must go through trials, doubts and fears, especially spiritually just like the rest of us. I really need to expand Emma’s character.
Of course, I’ve only chosen a few things to bring to your attention, but they have a major bearing on the story. It means another big rewrite is in order. And what would happen if I ignored the suggestions and submitted it as is… then an editor or agent would suggest the changes and I’d have to do it anyway. I think I ‘d rather change it at this level and then submit my very best.
Sigh. Back to the Page 1.
Question for today: What are you reading now and is it affecting you in any way?