I’ve been thinking (dangerous, I know). It occurred to me that you can write and write for years, and love every word you scratch on paper (or computer) no matter how they turn out. I have stories I’ve written over the years, since I was fifteen or so, that I pull out every so often and read for fun. I love the premise and the characters of each and every one of those early efforts. I know those monstrosities wouldn’t even get past a fifth grader but would it be worth it to rewrite them? Not just no, but Heck No! I wouldn’t even try.
What I would try is to give the characters new life. Maybe take the general premise and character names and write a story that the two main characters will shine in. In thinking about that and how I would rather write just about anything right now that would keep me from the dreaded revisions of Perfect Doctor Viv, I realized something.
Rewriting an existing character to make him/her a live, shining embodiment of what they once were is exactly what these revisions are really all about. Taking Viv and Connor from who they are now- before revisions- and turning them into what I wish I could do to any other character in my queue of rubbish… that’s what this rewrite is equivalent to. I might as well stop wishing for one of those to work on because I know it’s not gonna happen. I’m in revision hell and until I can dig my way out, figure out what these two need, I can’t do anything about those other ‘promising’ characters. But I can’t seem to find what this story needs to survive. And then it hit me.
I tend to look at a glass as half full when I need to see it as half empty. Normally that is a good way to view something. But if what’s in the cup is too distasteful to swallow, why make it fuller than it is? Right? Right! In other words, I’m trying too hard.
So- here’s what I plan to do. I will turn that cup over. I’ll add the sweet ingredients necessary to create a palatable concoction. For example- if my hero isn’t heroic enough I don’t have to take him out and rebuild him. I can add some heroics and sweeten the pie. Heroine too sappy or wilty? Toughen her up. Make the hero fight for what he wants- even when he doesn’t know he wants her yet.
I watched ‘Life As We Know It’ last night with granddaughter. I enjoyed the movie immensely. Great plot, loveable characters. Heartache, anger, it ran the gamut of emotions all the way through. Never a dull moment. I found myself not only watching for enjoyment, but watching for ‘why’ I was enjoying the movie. It was a wonderful romance even though the first kiss didn’t come until somewhere in the last hour. But it was so well done that I didn’t even notice that until it happened!
These two met on a blind date set up by their best friends. He arrives to pick her up- an hour late. Then he offers her a helmet to ride the motorcycle he is picking her up on. Not gonna happen in the adorable black dress and four inch heels she’s wearing. She offers to drive them to a dinner he never made the promised reservations for- in her ‘toy’ SMARTCAR that he can barely get into. Then, before she starts the engine, he gets a phone call and sets up an after-date-booty call while she’s listening a foot away! Great tension, wonderful conflict. He’s a playboy and she’s been alone for three years without so much as a kiss from a man. He’s her first date in three years, but she’s not that desperate.
All the way through I kept thinking “These two like each other- really like, not just might.” Nothing really gave the impression, but I sensed it as the movie progressed. It wasn’t because they were getting closer and more lovey-dovey. In fact, there wasn’t really anything to make me think it in an obvious light. They fought at every event they were together at. He reminded me of my hubby- on his most irritable of days- all the way through. I wanted to kick him for her at times! But when he told her he loved her…I wasn’t caught by surprise because I already ‘knew’ it. How? I can’t explain without ruining the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It was just ‘there’. I just knew.
That is what I need for Viv and Connor. Not the constant combat maybe, but conflict to up the ante at every positive turn. And like the movie, there’s a child at the center- though in a very different aspect. But I have to find what makes these two work with and without the child, and why, so then I can build on that. That, even though they may not realize it, or the reader might not see it coming, the hero and heroine are falling in love so subtly and consistently that when it happens you just know without having to be told. That’s beautiful.
If you haven’t seen ‘Life As We Know It’- do. Watch it and enjoy. Is there a movie that filled you with a total AHA! Moment like this one did for me? One that showed you what you need to fix your ms into what you imagined it, no matter the genre, when you first began writing those two lovely characters? Did it really help you? I’d love to hear about your journey through rewrites and revisions. Or maybe it’s getting that story on ‘paper’ in the first place that you found a solution to something you were stuck on. Share. Really.
And for those I forgot to tell (color me lame for that lapse!)… please go here and see what I have to offer about revision letters and what to do with them. It could save your career!