HWSWA: Talking About Starting Anna

Here’s the latest HWSWA post on starting Anna’s story.

We talk about the new book I’m working on as I try to explain the basic idea using some really bad conflict boxes and the a too-long sentence idea to focus in the fog of discovery. Bob asks good questions and makes me think about things and justify my decisions, exactly what a critique partner should do.

Next week, Bob’s one-sentence idea and conflict lock for his new book, where I will try to make him justify things and he will answer, “Because.”

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21 thoughts on “HWSWA: Talking About Starting Anna

  1. This was interesting to read, but more importantly I’m glad it helped you think things through.
    I love the idea of them being more honest and more themselves when they’re in Vegas than in their regular lives. That sense of “being more yourself in disguise” is always a winner for me.
    It worked in 12th Night and As You Like It. It’s a good plot point in Tootsie, it’s one of my favorite things about Well Met (the characters fight in their real lives but flirt when they’re Ren Faire characters). I feel like there’s got to me more examples since it’s a plot line I love but the only thing else I’m coming up with is maybe Batman and Catwoman?
    I know Georgette Heyer has done it too, I just haven’t read those ones. Yet.

  2. This was a joy to read with my morning coffee. I agree with Bob, Anne’s story is solid-gold Crusie.

    Looking forward to next weeks discussion. Will Bob being putting up an excerpt of his new book?

    1. Probably not soon. I’m neck deep in rewriting my nonfiction. But I did have a really good idea working off some stuff I’d done earlier. Woke up around 230 in the morning and it pulled together.

  3. I’m not sure. He doesn’t like people reading too early, so my guess is no, but he does like teaching and talking about writing, so he might do it just for that. Or if he’s a lot farther along than I am. I’ll ask.

  4. I’m confused about the main conflict box. I was sure that Anna wanted to change her life, based on everything she thinks about in parts 1 and 2. So how can her goal be to protect her old life?

    I mean, she deliberately dares her boss to fire her. I really thought the question was how to change, and dealing with the reality of change and any unexpected problems that come up from change happening, not whether to change at all. (Though I can see how change could be in the air for her but then the plot forces it too fast for her or in a bad direction, so she feels like what she wants isn’t change at that point?)

    Also, part 2 really helped me understand something you’ve been saying all along, about how romance is showing that they can stick together for the long haul. Because they want each other but they don’t know each other, so obviously no matter how much they want, there’s no way to know about the sticking together part at this point, so that’s what the rest of the book’s about.

    1. One of the things that’s coming clear to me about this is that there’s an assumption motif going on.
      Nate makes assumptions about Anna based on his concept of Lucy and has problems when she turns out to be Anna.
      Anna makes assumptions about Nate based on her concept of Charlie and etc.
      Nate and his team make assumptions about the crime they’re investigating and have problems when it’s not what they think.
      Anna and her museum staff make assumptions about the new boss, etc.
      But the big main character arc is that both Anna and Nate have carefully constructed lives for themselves and made assumptions about themselves that aren’t working any more but they’re clinging to them anyway. Anna doesn’t want to change her life; that’s why she’s made when Jason dumps her. She’s built a very safe, secure world for herself in a low-paying job where she’s essential; Nate’s done the same thing (not as low-paying but still safe, secure, etc. When their lives collide, they destroy all that safety for each other, force each other to look at the assumptions they’ve made about themselves, and start more authentic lives. They both take chances with their careers–Nate shouldn’t be anywhere near Anna’s investigation–possibly because they both subconsciously know that where they are isn’t right, but it’s the catalyst effect they have on each other that arcs their characters and the plot.

      I think. This is discovery draft. It could turn out to be about something else entirely.

      Also, those conflict boxes? Starting points. Those are going to change. Plus the ‘conserve your old life” goal is negative, so it’s one she’s going to have to give up. And there should only be one goal in there, so that has to change. I never really know what’s going on with a story until I see what I write.

  5. I’d love to read this, based on what you say here. I hope this one gets finished sometime! (I don’t mean that snarkily, it just has so much promise!) I liked the comparison to Moonstruck as well.

  6. I had to originally Google twin set, so glad that got clarified!

    Excited to see where this one goes! Seems like you already see more of the back story than with Lily!

    Love them, and can’t wait to see where this goes!

  7. I really enjoyed the back and forth on this discussion. A little bit of explanation vis-a-vis Moonstruck, which luckily is a movie I have actually seen, but much of the discussion was about the specific book and character details, plus Bob’s big picture & structural focus, which I agree with you, sounds like very useful input.

    Also, I suddenly understood the bind you got into with Lily, since she and Artist Boy immediately liked one another, clarified that quite quickly, and then left nothing (that I could detect) as the romantic challenge.

    But as the two of you brought up the background details and what they imply, I did find myself wondering a few things:

    * Was the mother training Anna to survive possible murder by sending her to the grandfather, or was it his idea?
    * Where exactly did the grandfather go?
    * What was it about Nate that drew Anna to him in the first place? Was it the posh clothing that somehow matched her twinset disguise?
    * Are the (Italian?) grandfather’s mob and the Russian mob connected?

    Anyway, love this story. Kudos to both of you!

    1. 1. I think that’s on the page, but I’ll have to check; Grandpa insisted on Anna knowing how to shoot, and since he was supporting them, Mom said yes.
      2. That’s on the page: Prison, died four years later.
      3. That’s on the first page when Anna’s sizing him up. She goes into it in more detail later, but I think that’s in Part Three.
      4. Nope.

  8. I think it would be fun to flip the concept and Anna realizes that she has to protect Nate. She knows the bad guys don’t play fair and so she wants to work with Nate in order to protect and save him. Nate, of course, does not know this and boy is he angry when he finds out.

    1. I’m pretty sure Nate knows the bad guys don’t play fair and can protect himself.
      Also, it’s really important to me that they’re always honest with each other. So anything Anna does, she’ll be up front about.

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