Sunday, February 19, 2012

Like Falling in Love All Over Again

So I'm on book tour right now, and while it's been WONDERFUL to see so many people and talk with everyone and tour the lovely cities Penguin is sending me to and get to know Andrea, Marie, and Jessica better, it is also EXHAUSTING. So...I've not posted nearly as often as I usually do. But! I do want to take a moment to remind everyone of two things:

1) If you want signed copies of my books (or any of the other books by the lovely ladies on tour with me) we have signed stock at every single book store event, and they have copies available and are able to ship nationwide (and worldwide in the case of the larger stores). Please check out the list of tour stops and contact the store closest to you for signed copies.

2) Don't forget to enter my contest for ALL SEVEN BOOKS ON TOUR--SIGNED! You guys have officially brought the Facebook Likes for the Breathless Reads page over 2,500, so ALL SEVEN BOOKS are going to one grand prize winner! And true to my word, I've been collected some additional prizes along the there will actually be multiple winners. I have badges already (YAY!) and hope to get some posters soon. Also, there might be ARCs involved. Just sayin'. Contest entry post is the one directly below this post.

OK! Onto the post!

So, last night PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was playing on the hotel movie channel, and it got me thinking about writing (surprise, surprise). I realized that the love in the movie is actually very similar to my different stages of writing a novel. I'm currently in the midst of rewriting SHADES OF EARTH (with a new! exciting! ending!), and it's put me firmly in Stage Three of the Falling In Love Writing Process.

How is writing like falling in love, Jane Austen Style?

Stage One: Lydia and Wickham

In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the stupid sister, Lydia, becomes infatuated with the horrid player Wickham. She makes a stupid decision to run off with him, which would have led to her "ruining" in society had Mr. Darcy not forced Wickham to marry her. Nevertheless, Lydia never sees anything wrong with Wickham and thinks that he's the most wonderful man on Earth, despite the fact that he's a complete and utter douche.

This is the first stage of writing, the final copy of the rough draft. When I first finish a novel, I look at it with starry eyes. It can do no wrong. I truly believe I will send it out to critique partners or my editor, and it will come back with nothing but gold stars and smiley faces on the manuscript. I have no idea that my manuscript is flawed; I see right past it all and believe it's nothing but good.

Which makes me as stupid as Lydia at this point.

Stage Two: Elizabeth and Darcy Hate

When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy first meet, it's hate at first sight. They don't get along. They see nothing but each other's flaws. They want to utterly tear down the other one, and spend their time ranting at each other.

This is when I first start editing. I look at the book and wonder why I ever wrote such trash. I taste bile when I think about how I actually let other people READ it. Ugh. This thing needs to go in the trash. I might as well start over.

Sure, there might be a few redeeming qualities. After all, Elizabeth admits that Mr. Darcy is a handsome man, and polite. Maybe the manuscript needs an overhaul, but there are a few scenes that might be okay...after some time apart, I might start seeing a few glimmers of hope (just as Elizabeth started liking Darcy when they were separated)...

And this leads me straight to... Stage Three: Elizabeth and Darcy Love

There's a moment in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE where Elizabeth suddenly realizes that Mr. Darcy's not a complete tool. She recognizes that he's not perfect, but she's able to see past that to his intent, and realize that he's actually a good man. And perfect for her. Likewise, somewhere between editing/rewriting and finishing the new draft, I reach a moment where I can both see what was wrong before, but look past it to the beating heart of the story.

It's a magical moment, just like falling in (real) love. It's when I can see that the story's not perfect (no story ever is) but I'm reaching the point where it is perfect for me. I love it--really love it, not like Lydia loves Wickham. Lydia turns a blind eye to Wickham's faults, but Elizabeth doesn't--and neither do I. I see the faults, and I try to make them better, or I try to make the reader see that the faults are a part of the story. I am not afraid to chop off parts that don't work, I'm not afraid to admit that my opinion was wrong. I love it, and I want to make it better. And I believe in it.

This is the point where I'm at with SHADES OF EARTH right now. I went through the Lydia love--I actually expected to have just a few edits, lol! And for much of the past two months, I've been in the Hate mode. I couldn't see any value to the book at all, and I wanted nothing more than to throw it all away. But I'm back in love now, real love, and I've found the beating heart of the story, and all I want to do is relish in the words and sling them about like flower petals at a wedding.


Anonymous said...

Aw, I love this :) I'm so bummed I can't make it to Houston for the tour stop.

Alexa S. said...

I love your Pride & Prejudice comparison because it makes so much sense. It was a pleasure to see you again at Books of Wonder! :)

Temre Beltz said...

I'm a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice and you :) What a great post for a Saturday where I am simultaneously in both the Lydia stage with my current WIP and transitioning from the Elizabeth/Darcy Hate to the Elizabeth/Darcy Love stage with one of my "finished" manuscripts - hopefully I'll make it there soon! Thank you for the inspiration!

Jen said...

I love this post. What a great way of looking at novel love!

ryan graudin said...

You are so, so right. (I almost wrote write, can you tell where my brain is?) I love the way you described these stages. :)

Michelle said...

Beth, could you stop getting cooler? I don't know if I can handle it. :P Love this blog entry and how you categorize by Jane Austen P&P romance.

Can't wait to see you next week and meet in person at Passion & Prose.

LM Preston said...

I hope you get to go to some great places. Can't wait to see you when you stop near me!

Danielle Ellison said...

great post beth!!

Jenny said...

That's such a great analogy to writing! Good luck with Shades of Earth and the anticipation of waiting to read it is almost too much to bear! Thanks for sharing great writing tips, and if you have any for querying, they would be helpful.

Jen said...

I love Pride and Prejudice too bad they cut out so much of the movie. I love your comparison of that to writing though.

Becky said...

I'm at the 'hate' stage of writing. Is there any way to make the love stage come faster?

By the way - absolutely fantastic post!!


Christina Farley said...

I'm a crazy Jane Austen fan so this might be one of the best posts ever.