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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Cliche heroes/heroines -- name your favorites here!

Well, the aristo highwayman isn't necessarily the kiss of death... it's just that it will take a very unusual twist to make the story fly off shelves again. But perhaps your efforts would be better spent on another idea while you think up that new twist!

Happy writing,
Leigh
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ISHON
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎01-20-2007
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Regency

I like the Nobleman turn Pirate.
Good with a little bit of bad in him, ok more than a little :smileyhappy:
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LeighMichaels
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Writing straight through, or revising as we go?

Hi, Angela -- That's a really tough question, because there are so many variables. If our story foundation isn't solid, there's really no value in pushing all the way through just to put words on paper. At the same time, we learn to write a book by writing a whole book, not a lot of first chapters.

Throw into this mix the fact that everybody works a little differently and it's really hard to prescribe a course of action.

What I suggest is that you try is to keep on going from beginning to end, and then go back and make revisions. I suggest that for several reasons.

(1) We can revise chapter one in an attempt to make it perfect till it's dead. Not only do we never get any further, but there's no such thing as a perfect chapter one anyway; there will always be finishing touches and changes that it needs.

(2) All those great ideas we get while writing a story (you know what I mean -- "Hey, I know! Instead of my heroine being a vampire, I'm going to make her a werewolf and that will solve everything!") aren't always great ideas. Sometimes they're the offspring of a tired, frustrated writer's mind. If we persist to the end of the project, lots of times we find out that the vampire worked out just great and the werewolf -- what seemed at the time to be the salvation of the story -- was only a dead end. (Or maybe that should be vice versa??)

(3) Making changes along the way often means that you're so confused about what's in the MS and what was taken out in the last draft that you really don't want to look at it after a while.

I don't suggest ignoring those great ideas that come along mid-project -- jot them down. If there's a specific change you think you want to make, put a sticky note on the page. But don't go back and change it now. Don't get distracted by actually rewriting. Keep on going, and then when you have a first draft finished you can go back and work it over.

The exception is (as I said at the beginning) if the foundation isn't strong. I once started a book and wrote four chapters before realizing that the hero was a jerk and the heroine was a dishrag and I didn't care if they had a happy ending, so I ditched it and started over and wrote three chapters before I realized that the hero was even more of a jerk and the heroine was a slightly different sort of dishrag and I still didn't care if they had a happy ending, so I ditched it and started over and wrote two chapters before I realized that I really wanted the heroine to kick the hero in the coattails, or possibly just kill him outright. If you've been counting, you know that at this point I'd written nine-tenths of a book and had not one single publishable PAGE. The good news is that the fourth time I started, I wrote the whole book and it was enjoyable and I liked both the hero and the heroine and it got published. (It was A CONVENIENT AFFAIR, if you're keeping track.)

I could have kept going with any of the first three efforts and had a 55,000 word manuscript, but I never would have had a BOOK. So that's the judgment call in all this -- if the foundation is strong, you like the characters, and you have a solid conflict, then it's probably worth gritting your teeth and going on. If you don't like your characters, or if the conflict is just a misunderstanding or it's something the reader can't really care about, then it's better to back off and start something else.

How's that for a non-answer answer? ;-)

Happy writing,
Leigh
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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Writing straight through, or revising as we go?



LeighMichaels wrote:
(It was A CONVENIENT AFFAIR, if you're keeping track.)



Ok ladies, scorecards out!
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staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Writing straight through, or revising as we go?

Thanks Leigh! It does help. So many times I've told myself to just keep going, but when I'd come across a detail that needed to be changed, I'd spend an hour or better trying to find the place I needed to change it, then rewriting that whole section etc etc. And I literally did get sick of Chapter 1!! So, with your encouragement, I'll give it an honest effort at writing until the end, jotting down notes and ideas as I go along. I'll let you know how it works!! :smileyhappy:
Have a great day!
Angela
"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BREATHING & LOVING YOU; I WOULD TAKE MY LAST BREATH TO SAY "I LOVE YOU""
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Writing straight through, or revising as we go?

Gosh Leigh, that's exactly what I've done, written maybe four or five partials where either the hero or heroine is a jerk. I've ditched them now but might resurrect the story line at some point.
What I'm thinking of is stories where the conflict is misuderstanding as opposed to some emotional challenge either has to overcome to get to happy ever after. In the first few pages it's going to be quite crucial to portray a misunderstanding as an emotional issue isn't it? It looks to me to be quite easy to portray one when you mean the other.

Lynne.
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Writing straight through, or revising as we go?

Mmmm, not quite, Lynne. When I say a conflict that's mainly a misunderstanding, I'm talking about the kind of problem that could have been solved by a few minutes' honest conversation. If in Chapter 12 he says, "Here's what really happened; it's too bad you wouldn't listen to me then" and she says, "Oh? Gee, yeah, I should have listened, let's get married" -- well, those stories aren't nearly as satisfying as ones where there's a real issue between the two characters.

Taking a misunderstanding and making it emotional just gives us melodrama in the end, I'm afraid.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Conflict and romance



LeighMichaels wrote:
Mmmm, not quite, Lynne. When I say a conflict that's mainly a misunderstanding, I'm talking about the kind of problem that could have been solved by a few minutes' honest conversation. If in Chapter 12 he says, "Here's what really happened; it's too bad you wouldn't listen to me then" and she says, "Oh? Gee, yeah, I should have listened, let's get married" -- well, those stories aren't nearly as satisfying as ones where there's a real issue between the two characters.

Taking a misunderstanding and making it emotional just gives us melodrama in the end, I'm afraid.

Happy writing,
Leigh




I am curious Leigh, did you ever write a romantic couple who had conflicts and challenges, but they weren't really with each other. Like someone or something else they were both fighting or that was keeping them apart somehow. Or does sexual tension always come from interpersonal hero/heroine conflice in your opinion?
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ChristineM
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Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Melodrama



LeighMichaels wrote:
Taking a misunderstanding and making it emotional just gives us melodrama in the end, I'm afraid.

Happy writing,
Leigh




Actually, Leigh, if you could spare a word or two on melodrama, I'd appreciate it. When reading or watching other's work, I can spot it a mile away, but when it comes to my own, I'm not sure where the top is so I don't know when I've gone over it.

(Though "Oh? Gee, yeah, I should have listened , let's get married" is pretty funny. Sounds like an entry in a bad novel contest.)
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Conflict and romance

Hi, Bonnie -- Well, in a lot of my books, the hero and heroine are working together to solve a common problem. They might not always agree about how to do it, so that causes some tension, but usually they're not actually fighting each other so much as they're trying to fix something and they each have different ideas about how to do it. Does that make sense?

For instance, STRICTLY BUSINESS, which is one of the most popular books I ever wrote, featured a hero and heroine who were genuinely best friends and had been since birth. They also worked together in a business their fathers had established -- so there were some conflicts about how to promote the company, but it's not like one was scheming to outdo the other one.

In ASSIGNMENT: TWINS, they're stuck babysitting 11-month-old twins for a week when the parents can't get home -- again, there's tension about how to manage it, but they're not trying to defeat each other.

In THE CORPORATE MARRIAGE CAMPAIGN, he needs a fake bride for the department store ad campaign, and he's in a position to give her marketing business the kickstart it needs, so they're cooperating so each can get what they want.

Occasionally I do a "I'm going to run you into the ground if it's the last thing I do" sort of plot, but by and large I prefer the other sort.

Still, there's always some tension between the couple -- some reason they can't immediately get together -- which adds to the conflict.

Interesting question! It was fascinating to think back through some of my stories about what I'd done and why.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Melodrama

Yes, the plausibility factor comes up a little short in that scenario, doesn't it.

The definition of melodrama is "an extravagantly theatrical play in which action and plot predominate over characterization." There are a couple of classic examples -- The Perils of Pauline where our heroine is tied to the railroad track and the villain's twirling his mustache, and the "I can't pay the rent"/"You must pay the rent!" scenario. The modern day equivalent is the bad soap opera (not all soap operas are bad, but some of them go way over the top) where every event or turn in the plot is greeted with gasps and upflung hands, regardless of how important it is or whether people in real life would react that way.

Melodrama on the printed page creeps in when our focus on emotion creeps over into hysteria, and it happens in plots that rely on misunderstanding because if there's no real issue to talk about, then we have arguments just to put words on the page, and we have heroes and heroines who get all upset about every little thing that happens.

It's a sort of "much ado about nothing" situation. If there's a real issue for people to talk about, they talk about it. They may get emotional about it sometimes, but in general the best way to convince someone isn't with emotion, it's with logic -- so they'll quickly calm down and try to apply logic to changing the other person's mind. But if there isn't a real issue, then we tend to go on and on with the emotions.

But melodrama is pretty much like porn, I think -- we know it when we see it, but it's very hard to define and draw a line!

Happy writing,
Leigh
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Conflict and romance

Thanks for the thoughtful response. You have made me start thinking about the books I have read and the relationship issues of the hero and heroine.
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Conflict and romance

Me too Leigh, I think we're I'm stuck at the moment is in portraying my heroine as being attracted to the hero and recognising that, yet her showing that she isn't ready for romance, and neither does he want any more than a fling 'cos at the moment he likes his single life too much, without her seeming over emotional.
It seems to me quite a difficult balance to strike.
Lynne.
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Conflict and romance

And the problem there, Lynne, is if they can solve it in chapter ten, why can't they solve it earlier? If the main thing standing in the way is that she's just not ready for romance and he's not ready for anything more than a fling, what changes their minds? And why don't they see it sooner?

In real life all this takes a little time, but in fiction the reader already knows they're perfect for each other, so we start asking what's taking them so long to see it. It's not fair of us, but that's the way it is.

The answer, of course, is to have another issue lying between them. It doesn't have to be that he killed her father (big grin here) but you have to admit if he did, she's got good reason for not giving in to her attraction.

Okay, that's a pretty big jump, and the thing standing between them doesn't have to be so huge. But the larger point is, what ELSE might be standing in the way of them admitting their attraction, besides just not wanting to? THAT's the short-term conflict.

Happy plotting,
Leigh
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Conflict and romance

Hmmm, would it work if she is just taking time to learn to trust and he hasn't yet seen the benefits of life as a husband and father but when they're both pushed into it by their love for a little child they see the qualities in each other, and in themselves, and decide both that it would be nice to have a family of their own and they are right for each other. I guess I'd be hoping to show emotional development in both.

I did read a medical where the heroine thought the hero, a dr, had not cared for her father properly so he died. They were on top of a mountain climbing. Of course that wasn't right, we found out later!

It's really difficult to get each aspect of the story just right isn't it? just goes to show, easy to read doesn't mean easy to write.

Lynne.
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Leigh, a question about your books in "Large Print".

I was looking for some of your older romance books at my local libraries and found 5 of them (from 2000 to 2005 I think) but they were all in Large Print. Is there any reason you could think of that many of the books in the library would be large print only? Were the regular printings in those years all in very fine print? The large print is very popular around here with our older populations, but it seemed unusual.
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: suspense

[ Edited ]
Hi Leigh,

I love the huge feeling of suspense when the reader knows something the character doesn't. This set me wondering ... in The Tycoon's Proposal there was some great suspense when Kurt was drawn to Lissa but didn't realise he'd met her before. But this suspense ended quite early in the story. Did you at any point consider keeping it going until nearer the end of the book?
Could a story that began like yours (ie the H has had a conflict with the h in the past doesn't recognise her, and she decides for reasons of her own not to tell him) work if her identity wasn't revealed to the H until much later in the book? Or would that mean the true conflict wasn't being addressed until too late in the story?

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 02-10-200702:18 PM

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LeighMichaels
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Re: suspense

I went back and looked at THE TYCOON'S PROPOSAL, and Kurt recognizes Lissa right at the end of the first chapter, which produces a nice kick (I hope) to draw the reader into reading on to find out how he'll react to this old acquaintance suddenly going to work for his grandmother.

I think to have tried to maintain that bit of suspense any longer would have been annoying for the reader. Once the reader knows the secret, then the characters start to look a bit dim if they don't get it. And the real conflict between these two isn't that he doesn't know who she is, it's what happened between them all those years ago and more immediately that he thinks she's taking advantage of his grandmother. So it was never a part of the plan to carry that suspense on further.

I have had characters who kept massive secrets from the other main character through most of the story. But in those cases, usually the reader didn't know either. Some examples are FAMILY SECRETS and LET ME COUNT THE WAYS and THE BOSS AND THE BABY -- all involve major things that one main character knows but the reader doesn't until near the end.

Interesting question! Anyone want to weigh in with examples?

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Leigh, a question about your books in "Large Print".

Bonnie, there are a couple of large-print editions -- one is a hard-bound book intended mainly for library use and selling for somewhere around $25 a pop. The other is a regular paperback, same cover and everything, only in a larger print and with more pages. A lot of readers like those just because they're easier on the eyes, though the print is sort of midway between regular and the true large-print. I think a lot of those go out in the book club mailings.

If your library could only buy one copy, they may have made a decision to buy large-print because the normal-sighted viewers can read the LP edition, so one book satisfies all the users. Or they may have received a larger-print paperback as a donation.

For a while, there was talk of making all Harlequin Romances the larger-print version rather than publishing two editions, but the last I knew they're still continuing with both.

Happy reading,
Leigh
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Leigh, a question about your books in "Large Print".

"think to have tried to maintain that bit of suspense any longer would have been annoying for the reader. Once the reader knows the secret, then the characters start to look a bit dim if they don't get it. And the real conflict between these two isn't that he doesn't know who she is, it's what happened between them all those years ago"

Thank you, Leigh, that's exactly what I wanted to know. I've begun a story where the H doesn't initially recognise the h even though he's met her before years ago. But I was unsure at which point in the story to have him realise who she is. i liked the idea of saving it until near the end but now I can see that t has to be sooner rather than later (so that the real emotional issues between them can start to be sorted out and reader credibility is maintained.)

I love those stories where the reader doesn't know the secret eg Family Secrets, Capture a shadow, and possibly O'Hara's legacy would come into this category too. But whan the reader does know the secret and it's that the characters met before then it need to be revealed to the character fairly early on?
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