New Toy: The Process of Rewriting “Hot Toy”

So before I go find my copy of Santa Baby, I think I need to get my rewrite plan in order. And I knew you’d all have opinions so here’s my plan:



Main Plot
Goal: Get the Major Macguffin for her nephew.
Conflict: First she can’t find it (that’s really trouble, not conflict), and then when she finds one people keep trying to take it from her.
Antagonist: That guy. Reese. I need to read the book again to remember his name.
Goal: Pick up the spy codes from the Chinese.
Conflict: Trudy picked up the box with codes.

Subplot 1:
Protagonist: Trudy
Goal: Resist getting involved with Nolan again.
Conflict: He really seems to want to be with her.
Antagonist: Nolan
Goal: Get the spy codes back and keep Trudy from getting shot.
Conflict: She’s really holding onto that toy. Also, he’s really attracted to her.

Subplot 2:
Protagonist: Trudy
Goal: Get her family a happy Christmas, damn it, restoring everyone’s faith.
Conflict: Her extremely depressed sister is dipping gingerbread in alcohol.
Antagonist: Courtney
Goal: Drown her considerable sorrows in gin.
Conflict: Her sister is being aggressively positive.

Subplot 3:
Protagonist: Nolan
Goal: Get the spy codes
Conflict: That guy is trying to get them, too.
Antagonist: That guy. Resse
Goal: Get the spy codes
Antagonist: Nolan keeps getting in the way of his efforts to get the toy from Trudy.

Huh. It’s not a romance. It’s a family story with romance and suspense subplots. Who knew?


Because I’m a little hazy on the details.


That’ll be a later post. Have to read it again first. But you all know the drill: start where the conflict starts, escalate through turning points, end big with a climax. I’ve just realized that the ending is all over the place because I thought it was a romance. So, that’ll need fixed.


It’s a Christmas story, the thing must be lousy with metaphor and symbol.

Step Five: REWRITE.



Thank god I have a critique group. Fingers crossed a couple of Glindas have time to read a novella that’s probably going to be longer than it was before.

Step Seven: PROFIT.

So I have a plan. Now to see if I can find the book . . .

40 thoughts on “New Toy: The Process of Rewriting “Hot Toy”

  1. It’s right here on the Cruise shelf. I’m so glad you are issuing as an e-book. It’s my favorite Christmas story right up there with “A Christmas Story” (I think that is a short story expanded for the movie.) I like to read it when Christmas has me at my wit’s end, it’s comforting.

  2. I’m not a fan of novellas, or short stories for that matter, but Hot Toy was my favorite novella ever. Witness, I still remember it after so many years. If you are going to re-work it, I wish you could make it into a full length novel instead of a novella. Probably won’t work with your publishers, but that’s my wish for the day!

    1. What Beverly said — make it a full length book. More on the sister and her AWOL husband, more on snotty Dad the professor. There’s a bit of Linc (Cinderella Deal) in Nolan. Linc truly started out as a jerk and ended up as Prince Charming, Nolan already shows signs of being a good guy (Mayeresque character development God him?)..

      Hmmmmm, sounds like a good one!

      1. Damn autocorrect !!! “God” was supposed to be “for”…

      2. Actually, the sister is the character I respond to now the most. I was playing around with it and workshopped the first scene here several months ago. So if I wrote something that was a lot longer, it would probably be Courtney.

    2. I think it might get longer because the big complaint was character development, but a novel? Nope. It just doesn’t need that much real estate.

      1. Yeah. I loved “Hot Toy,” but it wouldn’t be the same as a full length novel. Trying to squeeze more detail into it would wreck it. That, and adding content to what you already have sucks (kind of like mending laundry. Then again, I don’t like mending, either. It’s just as much work as making something new, but no one’s as impressed when you fix something as when you make something ).

        I wrote a horribly cliche play for a drama class. Then I had to add stuff to make it longer. Not fun. Now I have to grade research papers, foryunately

        1. Touch screens are not good for posting long responses. Fortunately, there’s only 3 papers. Teaching in a homeschooling co-op has class size as a benefit over regular teaching.

          Anyway, I hope you enjoy revamping “Hot Toy” more than I would. I’m sure I’d enjoy reading it!

  3. Er, on the book. I wasn’t volunteering for a transplant. Besides, you don’t want mine; they suck less than yours but they still suck.

  4. Hello. Y’a’ight? It looks like you still have some blessings to count (which is the part of you I most wanted to grow up to be like – that ain’t bad, is it?). I’m doing that this weekend in a big way. Hosting as huge a party as I can for as many of my friends as can make it, just to say thanks for seeing me through!

    No Happy birthday sign. I’ve got the Strategic Scientific Reserve logo from Agent Carter πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ It’s going to be FUN!

  5. I remember liking Hot Toy and did not notice that it was bad, at. all. Then again, when you feed the masses crumbs they’re happy. πŸ™‚
    And per your previous post… I think I may have said When I grow up I want to be Jenny Crusie, but not actually Jenny Crusie because there can only be one… But to write like that? Yes. Most definitely. I may dig up Hot Toy and re-read so I may be of use here. LOL

  6. So far this Hot Toy discussion has really helped the ol’ figction writing, probably because of the confines of a novella. My understanding comes swiftly. NOW I understand the conflict box, and I’m gonna go out there and hunt me one down.

    Ooh ooh, hurry on up, Plot Analysis. Besides seeing the Rolling Stones, my weekend is free.

  7. FICTION. The anticipation of eyeing Keith Richards in action affects my typing neurology.

    1. I use the Glindas for that. We’ve been together for so long, we speak the same critical language which makes everything much easier. But thank you!

  8. Yay! for plans. Whatever you do, whatever changes you make, big or small, I know the story will be wonderful. Now that my old one is missing it makes good sense to buy a new one. Hope it comes out in December.

  9. Just de-lurking to share that I love Hot Toy. Disliked everything else in the book, but I loved that story.

    I thought the story itself was an excellent unit. It’s so tightly engineered that I wonder if it can be improved without risking its integrity. But I have absolute faith in you, Jenny, and I’ll be interested to see how you rework the story. And I’d love to see where Courtney (sp?) winds up, and hear her story post-Prescott.

    Hot Toy is part of my essential Christmas reads, along with Hogfather and Envious Casca. I reread it every Christmas, and periodically at other times during the year, too. It’s perfect when I need something short. And I got the Nook app solely because I could get Santa Baby on it in ebook. It isn’t my favorite of your ouvre, but I’m always delighted with it. And the cow makes me laugh every time.

    (and now I’m going back to lurking. thanks for the great community)

    1. Oh wow. Another person who reads Envious Casca every Christmas. Dysfunctional family, gold-digging blondes (daughter and mother), Austrian royalty, locked room murder. Sure says Christmas fun to me. (That and No Holly for Miss Quinn).

        1. Maud is such a joy throughout after the first read. The use of the book was great plotting! Heyer really maintained the contract with the reader, but it’s all through a character not in the novel.

      1. I always feel guilt for having Envious Casca in my Christmas-spirit list, but I can’t help myself.

        No Holly for Miss Quinn is a new one for me, but if it’s mentioned in the same stack as Envious Casca, I’ll go find it! Thanks!

        1. It’s a lovely Christmas story by Miss Read, and the polar opposite of Envious Casca. No bodies, no Empress, no Uncle Joe. Yes, do check it out.

  10. I love the codes, and I love the struggle over the toy. I have major problems, though, with the idea that getting a toy for a kid is going to bring peace and happiness to the entire family.

    I wonder if you could head more to the Envious Casca side, and get that doll so someone can ram it up the ex’s nose on Christmas morning? I think that makes a yummy combo — commercialization and revenge. Somebody will probably tell me that I should be thinking of the poor child, though. But the Christmas Story would be more satisfying if someone had rammed a GI Joe up King Harrod’s (er, I mean King Herod’s) nose. Instead, it’s all “run away! run away!”

    Of course, nose is a metaphor for ass. But nose is more Christmassy.

    Sorry, it’s been a rough Monday, and I am rambling.

    1. I don’t like vengeance stories. They feel like living in the past instead of moving on to a new future.
      But I do see where the antagonist isn’t as strong as he should be. If I’d done this right, you’d have wanted the doll up Reese’s nose.

  11. You’re rewriting Hot Toy?! But it’s perfect! I think that’s the first one I beta read for you, too. That said, i would love to beta read it again. Hello, Jenny!

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