Craft

Now that I’m writing about relationships, I spend more time thinking about what makes them work than I have since I was a teenager. I’d like to share two quotes from Paul Simon’s song Gumboots that rocked my world & shifted my understanding of relationships & responsibility.

The first is in the opening of the song:

“I was having this discussion in a taxi heading downtown, rearranging my position on this friend of mind who had a little bit of a breakdown. I said, you know, breakdowns come and breakdowns go, so what are you going to do about it that’s what I’d like to know?”

Ah, I LOVE that line. Teen emotions are so immediate & so earnest (even if, to an adult, a wee self-indulgent). Back then, I was accustomed to drama, but blown away by the concept a friend could have a breakdown and need to actually do something about it. Action, baby. Courage and action.

The second line is:

“It was in the early morning hours when I fell into a phone call. Believing I had supernatural powers, I slammed into a brick wall.”

Also a fixture of teen life? The midnight relationship drama call. My first head-over-heels relationship had many, many, many a midnight drama call. I was reading a good deal of gothic romance at the time and had this silly idea that simply arriving into your lover’s life would be enough to create fireworks of change. *shakes head*

This lyric introduced a distinction I hadn’t seen until then. A lover may see the beauty and goodness in their beloved, and that sight can transform both…but not without the beloved’s willingness (read courage and action).

I’ve been considering courage, action and transformation in the context of my current story. A character has to choose to change on their own, it’s not enough to be loved & it’s not enough to love.

What lyrics rocked your world?

When immersing myself in a particular time in history, I find a picture can breathe detail into my imaginary world and strengthen historical realism. A more succinct way to put that: pictures help me world-build.

My current series takes place in the dark and gritty world of the 1780’s. and, after so thick a darkness, I hear the light, dulcet tones of the Regency call.

I love this 1812 pic from La Belle Assembly. The white dress says debutante, but the rouged cheeks and minx-ish smile reveal this heroine is no shy Miss. Perhaps she has older sisters who have whispered to her about forbidden amusements? Perhaps she is on her second or third year out?

She has a lively mind: reading, painting, writing–they all fascinate her. Her mind is so lively, in fact, that she cannot be bothered to tidy.  She longs for adventure or, at the very least, for gossip.

Well, there’s my take. What do you see in the picture?

Rachelle Gardner’s blog is a fantastic resource for an aspiring writer. Ms. Gardner has ghost-written eight books, edited more than seventy and is currently a Literary Agent with more than 50 deals to her credit. I’m sure you will agree, this makes her Someone-To-Listen-To.

Last week, she posted a simple but incisive two-part series listing things a fiction editor will look for when reading your manuscript. As I’m in the early stages of a new story (read: the plot is spasming and thrashing like a fish pulled from the sea), I was thrilled to discover this series. I am finding Ms. Gardner’s lists incredibly helpful as I weed out the ideas-gone-wild and discover the essential elements of my story.

What a Fiction Editor Looks For: Part One
What a Fiction Editor Looks For: Part Two

She has posted the genres she reps here and her submission guidelines here.