Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

A New Twist

I  blame it on Mr. Write,  a gentleman in my writers’ group. I like blaming things on him. He takes it in stride and usually laughs it off. I really hate to admit it when he’s right and dog gone it, just between you and me, he’s right a lot. He’s constantly adding little red squiggles on my pages–adding commas and such. It annoys me because I personally think commas are overrated. Unfortunately, the editor at The Wild Rose Press agreed and all those pesky, little commas are in the edited manuscript.

This particular incident of him possibly being right  isn’t as simple as blood-red marks on my pages. He’s completely, I mean COMPLETELY, changed my current WIP, Ex-Ray. You see, since my other two NY Times Bestselling novels are contemporary romance, I assumed Ex-Ray was as well. It was going along just fine–60K words worth of angst, heartbreak, love, great sex and snark.

The only character to appear in two of my books is Owen. He’s the cop that notifies Summer Leigh about Dwight’s injuries in Redneck Ex. Since Anne, the main character in Ex-Ray, works as a 9-1-1 operator in Barrow, it made sense to have Owen show up in this book as well. Good grief. Barrow isn’t that big. There should be some character overlap.

The only problem is that Owen is a super nice guy and dreamy to boot.

Anne has fallen in bed with Joe Carducci–the new cop in town. A couple of weeks ago, I read the scene where Anne finds out that Owen likes her in that way as well. When I finished reading the scene, Mr. Write said, “Anne gets together with Owen, right?”

I said, “No. She’s with Joe.”

He said, “Owen’s too nice. You can’t leave him hanging.” Okay, I paraphrased ever so slightly.

Several other folks nodded in agreement. I didn’t think anything of it. What can the experienced, multi-published writers of my little writing group possibly know? Owen’s fate was sealed when I gave my mother the excerpt to read and she said, “Honey bunch, you need to write another story set in Barrow so Owen can find someone. He’s a nice boy and needs to good girl.” 

So, yesterday when I was preparing the reading for last night, I looked at the Ex-Ray manuscript. I had skipped ahead 3 months in the story.  Figured I’d go back and fill in the details of that missing time later.  I scrolled down the page and ran across this: in big bold, red no less, letters  Deal with Anne’s emotions about Owen.

Well I did and discovered Anne has been in love with Owen for years. I was just too dense to see it. Now, I have her in a very physical relationship with Joe and an extremely close, emotional relationship with Owen.  Sounds like real life to me, right? Love triangles happen all the time.  How many times have you been dateless and as soon as one guy asks you out another one does too?

I like the fact that Anne loves Owen.  He’s very lovable.  Only problem? In contemporary romance you can NOT have a main character who has feelings for more than one person.  If the MC has slept with someone on the pages (past relationships don’t count) then she cannot sleep with anyone else.  Good grief. In YA novels girls can screw the entire football team and no one blinks, but in an adult, contemporary romance, there can be no question who the MC ends up with.  Did I mention, Adult? Contemporary? As in 21 century? A time when monogamy isn’t expected until the “exclusivity” discussion.

As I read the excerpt last night, I knew I’d made the right decision. Owen has been there for Anne from the very beginning, but when I finished the reading, I was totally depressed. I’ll have to rewrite the entire freaking novel. It’s no longer contemporary romance.

You know what Mr. Write said? “Change the genre.”

Well, duh. Claire Croxton is now a writer of contemporary romance AND women’s fiction.

Thanks, Mr. Write and Mama. 🙂



Comments on: "A New Twist" (11)

  1. Madison Woods said:

    Here-here! I agree 🙂 Good move, Claire. Sounds like I missed a good meeting last night, LOL.

  2. Great blog! I agreed with Mr. Write last night. Now I don’t feel so bad about my female Alien trashing my plot line by being too likeable. Good grief! How can you like a woman who goes around zapping her victims with wasp venom?

  3. @madisonwoods Yep. It was a good meeting, but would have been much better if you’d been there!

    @joycezeller When most aliens go around zapping victims with wasp venom, I don’t like them, but Aine is so cute when she does it! 🙂

  4. Okay, I feel left out since I wasn’t there to agree with Mr. Right. In today’s marketing there’s room for us to change genres with much more alacrity (like that word?) than there once was. And Lord knows I have some women’s fiction coming up after reprising my romances for Kindle. Do it, but you’ll have to find another publisher or do it yourself on Kindle. Changes, all the time changes.
    Dang, I’m not going to miss any more meetings. You guys have too much fun.

  5. @velda. Meetings are more fun when you’re around!!

    My plan is to have Ex-Ray finished and polished by OWFI where I’m going to shop it around all the great agents we have lined up. 7 so far, 6 from New York. It’s going to be a great conference!!

  6. Oh, how I love it when the characters start writing their own story!
    Your book, no matter the genre, will be better for this change because that is what the universe brought to you no matter how hard you screamed and kicked. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t what YOU had planned but hey, go with the flow and see where it leads you. No matter how you write it, it will be damn good!

  7. @ruth burkett weeks Fortunately, I never have anything planned for the story when I start writing it so, I’m not totally committed to particular storyline. I do believe this will make the novel more interesting. I love it when the characters do what they want regardless of my gentle persuasion in another direction.

  8. This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when writing romance. The nice guy with a steady job, no tattoos, who lives with his mother, stays in the background far too long. Romance writers must bring the nice guy forth in the beginning. How many women want to read a romance novel where the heroine falls in love with an unemployed motorcycle riding hunk serving out the final six months of a four year probation in a drug rehab facility for the criminally insane? Apparently, not many. I’m not referring to any of your characters here. Just a couple of mine, in a story I’ve been trying to sell for over five years.

    So bring Owen forth and let him become the Hero in your story. Your fans will love you for it.

  9. @Jack LaBloom, nice guys finish last. Everyone knows that. The unemployed biker with a drug problem is far sexier than the guy who takes his mother to church twice on Sunday. The problem with Ex-Ray is that both Joe and Owen are nice guys. I do think Owen is HERO material and should be given the chance. Now, I need to figure out how to let Joe down easy. Oh, the woes of romance author.

    Appreciate your comment.

  10. Glad to help. I just get tired of stories in which the boy of drinking age, whose one asset is also the implement by which he does his “thinking,” wins the woman. Of course, those stories end at the beginning of the relationship. What happens tomorrow is never shown. Owen is a man for a lifetime, and he will treat Anne right.

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