Friday, December 15, 2006

CPR For My WIP

So, a few weeks ago we had a discussion as to when and why you should abandon a WIP or a ms. I confessed that after completing half of my WIP, I was ditching it...just wasn't feeling the vibe and getting the sense that it was the best work that I could put out there. Don't get me wrong: when I reread it, it wasn't bad. In fact, it was pretty good even, but something about it wasn't gelling for me - I didn't feel that necessary tug to write each day and I wasn't fully connecting with my characters. Stymied, I threw in the towel.

Fortunately, I'd also made the wise decision to send the 150 pages to my even more wise agent. She read them, said she really liked them, and then we both got busy and forgot about the project entirely. (And I decided to forget it permanently!) Well, she emailed me a few days ago saying that she definitely wanted to keep moving forward with it, but had a suggestion. And this suggestion was brilliant, so I wanted to pass it along to all of you who are equally stuck. It was so simple, but really breathes new life into the book and its characters.

And all she said was, "Why not make the heroine a few years older? I feel like her personal life makes this more chick lit than it should be, and by making her older, you can add other dimensions to her life." And damn, I mean, it seems like SUCH a simple suggestion, but she's SO on point! By putting her in her early-thirties rather than her late-twenties, I open up the possibility of making her married, maybe unhappily, maybe with kids, maybe considering cheating, maybe her husband is cheating, maybe they're just unhappy with no solution, maybe she has mommy guilt, maybe they can't conceive, maybe they got married too young, maybe, maybe, maybe. There are so many different paths that this character can now go down...instead, she was sort of stuck in this single-gal in the city mode, which I just wasn't feeling.

So...what's the point of this post? If you're stymied, consider playing around with tweaking certain characteristics of your main characters. Make them older, younger, in a different city, unemployed, single, married, etc, etc, etc. Just play around with them in your head - you might find that you're newly inspired or find a better way to tell your story. It's not always easy. I realize that I'm going to have to reconstruct part of the plot to accommodate these changes, but I think this might be what the ms needs. It really allows me to give the character much more depth than I'd given her before, which means that her evolution from the beginning of the book to the end (always a critical part of ANY book) will not only be more thorough, it will also be more honest.

What do you think? Could any of your characters use a little tweaking?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a dreamy agent who will soon be inundated with queries. Must be wonderful to have someone as supportive and bright on your team. You lucky, lucky girl.

Wish you the best with the WIP.

Trish Ryan said...

Isn't it awesome when you get that one suggestion that makes all the difference? I had a similar conversation with the agent we share today, and I have agree...she rocks :)

Glad to hear you're finding time to think about your WIP...it gives me hope about what's possible in motherhood!

Bethany said...

You go girl! Can't wait to hear the progress...

Now I only need to find the way to tweak a character in my WIP. He seems to be the thorn in my side these days. Argh!