Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I know that some of my crit partners target Harlequin or Mills & Boon. One of the things I love about their chat threads...the editors pop in and offer words of advice or encouragement. When I received my first rejection, of course I was confused as to what I should do next. We were told by the same editor I was rejected by, to read and dissect the suggestions if any were given. Which she WAS kind enough to give in her letter. One of her revision suggestions had something to do with my heroine's internal conflict. Not that I thought she was wrong...I thought my character couldn't have any more internal conflict or she'd be put away in a home.

So...I've had plenty of time to think about the revisions and I am trying. Still confused, but trying. I have nobody to blame but myself. I have never thought to blame my teachers, crit partners or the editors. This is my story. I hate when I hear people pass the buck. Either I can do this or not. It's a VERY competitive market and a crapload of talented writers pushing through the same bottlenecked door. I can do this. I WILL do this. It may take me awhile and hopefully my eyes are open enough to know that. What really helps is when a lovely editor pops in and will give us suggestions and/or tips.

I had another one of those a-ha moments yesterday when an editor popped in the SuperRomance thread. Several of the girls were being hugged for receiving rejections. The common denominator? Conflict. Lack of. My problem basically. Something she said just hit home and I had a brilliant idea. Now if I can just get it down on paper.

Here's the link...hope it helps!

Here is the section that really stood out to me...

Why don't we forget about conflict for a minute and talk about stakes. Robert McKee, in his book Story, writes: "Pressure is essential. Choices made when nothing is at risk mean little. If a character chooses to tell the truth in a situation where telling a lie would gain him nothing, the choice is trivial, the moment expresses nothing. But if the same character insists on telling the truth when a lie would save his life, then we sense that honesty is at the core of his nature....The more powerful and complex the forces of antagonism opposing the character, the more completely realized character and story must become."

Without referring to any particular submission or writer, it's common for us to see stories with characters making low-stake choices--like telling the truth when telling a lie gains nothing. This low stakes leads to low tension and a lack of compelling obstacle between characters.

Thank you, Ms. Curran! I am forever grateful!!


Bella said...

Chelle, thanks for sharing. I never actually thought about the choices made under pressure but it makes perfect sense. Happy to hear you take responsibility for your writing. On the hand, when a baby is yours, as most of our books are, its hard to hear it sucks, that's why writers develop thick skins. ciao.


Chelle Sandell said...

Don't forget, honey, that I target Harlequin and the guidelines and structure may be different than the line you are targeting. Alot of what we hear though is basic structure.

And I totally agree...It will always hurt to get a rejection regardless of what the editor says is the problem. The thing to remember is to use whatever info you get as help. The editors stress to us on the chat threads that they want us to succeed because it is gold for them in book sales. I've heard so many different writers and authors debate whether you should just write the book of your heart or gear it toward a particular line or trend.

Chicki said...

Good post, Chelle! One of the most important parts of being a writer is the ability to take criticism and use it for our benefit without allowing it to break us.

You're doing well because you have the right attitude.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ooh, that was great advice and simply said.

Thanks for posting that!

Good luck, honey! We're cheering for you!

Chelle Sandell said...

I'm so fortunate to have such wonderful friends and critique partners!!!