Manuscript Monday is a series of blog posts which chronicle the life of my manuscript. It follows the journey I take to turn my week old baby story idea into a fully grown, polished novel. Take the journey with me. 🙂
My 14 week- old manuscript:
Hey everybody! Sorry for the delay in posting this today. It’s been a busy few days around here for me. I’m guessing many of you are in the same boat. It’s the holiday season after all! On top of that, my son turns 15 tomorrow! And no matter how many times I tell myself that my little boy is a now a full-fledged teen, I still can’t quite believe it. It will be a bittersweet day for me as we celebrate the mini-man he has become. And really it’s all good because you know, it’s BirthdayTime and I love birthdays. What better way to spoil (within reason) the ones we love so much?
But in the midst of all the crazy around here, I’ve been working on my draft. The challenge I’ve faced this week during my writing sessions has been basically this:
I need to get out of my own way.
Sometimes I can be my own worst roadblock in crafting my stories—or more specifically, my personality can be. So here’s the thing. I hate conflict. I hate fighting with people close to me. I hate when people are mad at me. I hate when I’m mad at someone else. I will do anything to avoid conflict, including giving in if the issue is not all that important to me. Don’t get me wrong, if it IS important to me, I will fight tooth and nail to be heard, but I hardly ever let things get to that point.
I also hate when people I care about fight with each other. I will do whatever it takes to help them settle their conflicts. I’m a peacemaker, I guess. I like things happy-happy. 🙂
Years ago, my very first critique group pointed out this trait in my writing. It was a rare occasion at our meetings when one of them didn’t say, “I like this scene a lot, but would you consider upping the conflict a bit? Can you add more tension between these two characters? Why don’t you have such and such a character disagree with your MC?”
And my first reaction always was, “Why? Isn’t it enough that my MC is trying to escape from the carriage house? Why does he have to be fighting with his best friend at the same time?”
They would shake their heads (as if to remind me), “More conflict is better!”
And I would smile sheepishly, because I knew this was going against my personality. I hate conflict. I hate when my characters are unhappy. My natural inclination is to make things easy for them. I don’t want to be the cause of their unhappiness as they strive to reach their goal.
And then I slap myself in the face and tell myself to get over it. That’s my job. I’m the writer. I’m not a character in the book. I need to create as much conflict as I can. That’s what makes a good story and that’s what makes for a better pay off in the end—when I’m finally allowed to give them a happy ending!
My new critique partner extraordinaire, Mel just gave me similar feedback on my completed manuscript. And I had to laugh and shake my head again. UGGH! How do I not realize this about my own work??
And so not only am I revising that manuscript to add more conflict, I’m working to write lots of conflict in the draft for my WIP. Lots and Lots. And then some more. I’m hoping if I add more than I need, it will actually be just right.
But it isn’t easy. I struggle with ways to create problems where there are none. I struggle to add fights. I struggle to create difficult personalities. I struggle to have my characters make poor choices. But I’m doing it! My head actually hurts when I’m done writing because it’s a really uncomfortable thing for me. I’m hoping this will make me a better writer. I’m guessing it will because my stories ARE better for it. I can see it as I re-read and revise. Funny how when we push ourselves (even beyond what feels normal) we become so much better at whatever we do.
So that’s week 14. A lot of crazy; a lot of moving out of my comfort zone; and a lot of creating conflict. But only in my writing because you know, everything else around here needs to be happy-happy! 🙂