Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Question from a reader...

A dear reader emailed me the other day and asked the following question:

On Scribblechicks, you address finding and struggling to get ideas, but I can get ideas. My problem is that I don't stay excited about them, or think they are good ideas for more than a few days. I'll start fleshing it out and then think "this sucks, it'll never be good enough and is not worth writing if it'll never be good enough". Any advice?

In a word, yes! :)

First of all, never feel alone when it comes to self doubt and insecurities in the writing field. This is a tough business, whether you're published or unpublished. Unpublished authors fight the growly monster of Self Doubt in contest feedback from judges, or critiques from critpartners or other authors, etc. And published authors find that mean monster when it comes to bad reviews, low ratings, low sales figures, and rejections from other publishers on new proposals, etc. Never be so disillusioned that you think getting published one time means you have arrived, and will never struggle with Self Doubt again. NOT TRUE! You need to learn how to handle this difficulty NOW because it doesn't go away completely. Learn today how to commit to a project and stick to it, and hand over the negative to the Lord - He is the only one who can truly give you the strength and confidence inside to complete His will, and go for your dreams.

The above is very important - spiritually and emotionally and mentally, you have to be in a place to be able to stick with a project and turn off that negative voice inside that truly is from the devil...the devil, you ask? Really? YES. After all, when was the last time you heard God tell someone "you suck"? Hasn't happened ::grin::)

That said...the next step after prayer and getting your head/heart right, is commitment. Pick an idea you really like and are excited about and give yourself a deadline. If you commit to finishing a book in 6 months or one year or whatever works for your schedule and life, set the deadline and work toward it as if a real publisher was the one who had set it. This is good training because one day, that will hopefully be the case, right? :)

Get into the habit now and find someone to keep you accountable to your goal. A crit bid, a fellow author, even a non-writing friend who cares about you and will ask you "hey, did you write today?" It really does help. Working toward a goal and knowing someone is holding you to it does wonders for your creativity and motivation. A lot of writers actually work better under pressure. So put that pressure on!

If you find yourself losing interest halfway through (or whenever), stop. Ask yourself, is this boring? Why don't I care anymore? Figure out why you don't like it anymore and then fix it. Usually this can be fixed by adding more conflict to your original plot or by upping the stakes or by adding a ticking timebomb of sorts to your story. If you get stuck, don't quit. Brainstorm. Email or call another writer and say "help". Find someone in the writing world who can be this person for you. There's no shame in needing help sometimes, even the award winning, multipublished authors have brainstorming buddies and crit partners.

I hope that helps answer your question, dear reader! Who else has questions for the Chicks this week? :)


  1. I feel the girl... I get ideas all the time. I even keep a little notebook in my purse to write them down. But I suffer from doubt a lot but I have to keep writing, keep on creating to keep my life sain. It wasn't until I started my own blog that I really shared my stories. I love your advice and will keep it in my mind when I write.

  2. Glad to help, Blaire! :) You have it correct - just keep writing! So important. The more you practice the better you'll get and that helps erase the self doubt too. Another trick is to read back over your older writings from a few years ago, and see how you've grown. That's a confidence booster!

  3. Love this post & love how you capitalize Self Doubt like it's a real person, lol!
    I was reading not long ago where Kristin Billerbeck said a lot times after you are published your Self Doubt and fear can increase. It was the first time I had thought about it but I can imagine that being really true.

    I know in traditional romance there is normal 2 POV's but what about romantic comedy/chick lit? Chick lit is normally one POV & in first person but isn't chick lit becoming rom-com? And so in rom-com is 2 POVs acceptable?

  4. Tonya, yes, that's fine!

    Don't determine your POV because of supposed rules set by the industry, because those are just guidelines and always changing anyway. Determine your POV by what tells the story best.

    I just read a Gayle Roper novel and it had the heroine's POV in first person, the hero in third, the villian's in all italics, almost like a journal entry, and other side characters in third person who maybe had only 3 or 4 POV scenes each total the entire novel. Sounds like a mess, but it worked. It was what the story needed.

    Now some publishers, like Love Inspired, only publish third person and to write for them, you have to follow that. But other publishers do publish both and again - it's what the story needs.

    If you're starting out I don't recommend going all crazy like Gayle did ::grin:: because you have to really know what you're oding and have editors trust you to make something that out of the box work.

    But it can be done :)

    To answer your question more specifically, yes chick lit is becoming rom com and also women's fiction. Anything goes in WF - first person, third, a mixture, etc. I'd imagine the same is true for rom com. Again, story rules!

  5. What is high concept fiction?

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  7. People have a lot of misconceptions about this definition, but Suri, high concept fiction is simply yhe premise or tagline of your story.

    I found this description: High concept (n) – a description of a story, devoid of all but the most basic elements that allows for near-universal recognition.

    The same site also gave good examples:

    A story of forbidden love – Romeo and Juliet, Twilight

    A plucky underdog rises up to defeat an evil, powerful entity – Star Wars, Braveheart, almost every single piece of sports fiction

    A forgotten love reinvents himself to right old wrongs – Count of Monte Cristo, The Great Gatsby

    Others say, to put it differently, that it's any storyline that can be easily explained (like the above) to viewers/readers, etc.

    It does NOT mean especially sophisticated or whatever as some are mistaken to believe.