State of the Collaboration: Struggling Through the Beginning

I totally borked my heroine so I’m doing not only massive rewrites but also massive rethinking. I tried to write a Nice Girl (who’s forty-nine). What was I thinking? So I thought I’d try something new: a snarky, angry heroine. Really breaking out of my rut here.

This is our latest exchange on the Spike chat:

Of course we’re going to be done by Tuesday. You’ll notice I didn’t say what Tuesday. I’m thinking some time in February.

36 thoughts on “State of the Collaboration: Struggling Through the Beginning

  1. The only way to have a 49yo Nice Girl is if she’s led a very sheltered life.

    That niceness would never survive first contact with the real world…

    1. It’s more of a coping mechanism. She’s had no power, so when somebody told her to smile, she smiled. But she was dead on the page. So . . . rewrite.

      1. Jenny – you might watch Taylor Swift Miss Americana documentary. She had an aha moment at about 30 years that sound like what you are saying about your character. She realized she was buying into an image set by her industry & her business people that muzzled her. Also because of that she went all the time up until then barely eating anything and working out too much during her tours
        Now she looks healthy & happy.
        I was never a fan before but I am now.

  2. I don’t know. Inner niceness covered over by a hard shell of realism could do. But your heroines are always real, and come with snappy dialogue. I love that. I sometimes wish I could channel it in real life.

    1. Me, too. One of the great benefits of fiction is that when you think of a better line, you can rewrite and use it. Real life, not so much.
      Also, thank you.

    1. I do worry about getting into a rut. “Oh, look, Crusie wrote another angry, snarky heroine. With a dog. And a horrible mother.” I cut the horrible mother from this one, but the dog stays.

      1. Of course I love the angry, snarky heroines! Because that’s what I am. At least the angry part; I’m probably more sarcastic than snarky. And I’m not sure I’m a heroine. But I’ve got the angry part down pat!

        Definitely keep the dog. Life is better with dogs.

          1. Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. He’s actually named after the subject of a painting that Bob put in the book.
            But now I want somebody to call him Bill.

      2. As someone with a horrible mother, I love characters with horrible mothers.
        I know their pain!

    2. I’m reminded of reading the Parasiteology series by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. The series narrator is NOT snarky, due to plot related reasons (i.e. she’s very fresh and new to the world). Honestly, mostly snark-free stories are…much less fun and interesting, which is one of the reasons why it’s the series of hers I was the least into.

  3. That was a definite challenge! It might be a refreshing change to portray a woman who is really tired of the whole mess that we face every day, and who fights back. The world is not “nice”, and witnessing a woman facing that reality full-tilt would be inspiring. You go, girl!

  4. You have never written a devious heroine – possibly because you would dislike her. Sweet but devious. Wasn’t the Tilda’s mother somewhat that way? Although she had a strong streak of anger running under the surface.

    Women have had to learn a degree of manipulation in order to survive dealing in a world that is geared to decisions being made by men. I never liked Scarlet O’Hara and did not finish Gone with the Wind but she was a survivor. I should probably give it another try now that I am more mature and can appreciate woman who can survive life not being a fairytale.

    1. That’s right. Tilda’s mom was pretty cool. Her biggest problem was having given in to Tony. So no rust, really.

  5. Excellent post. Lifted my mood right up. Like checking my email and seeing your notification and another from the dotter that says, “We talked on the phone. The offer went through. We are under contract. We are aer to meet at the house Monday at 1:00. She needs the 1,000 toward emd that will go toward closing.”

    1. Very good, Gary. One of the ways to cut down on moving costs is if the previous owners are agreeable and there is space to just start taking a car full of stuff every time you go over.

      I have been thinking of your daughter’s situation. If she was married for 10 years, she is entitled to claim Social security under her ex-husband’s account. If he dies, she is entitled to widow’s benefits or his social security if it is a higher amount than her’s. So depending on how long she was married, you may not have to worry about qualifying her.

      Also, there are training and apprenticeship program and scholarships designated for women in her situation. She can check with counselors in financial aid at community colleges and state colleges and some programs are run in conjunction with state unemployment offices. These programs cover everything from building trades to professional assistants of various kinds. This
      varies from state to state but you might be able to do a preliminary search for her on-line. State social welfare counselors also would have information.

      My nephew had part time jobs in high school but basically had a mental melt down in his early 20’s and spent the next 15 years living with his parents. He finally felt secure enough to get a job. He kept applying for entry level positions for two years, did volunteer work at the library so that he could have someone credible who could give him references ( he worked a regular x hour a week schedule- I don’t know the specifics). But he then had someone who could say he was conscientious about coming to work, did the job he was assigned, got along with the customers, etc. He has been working as a clerk in a pharmacy for three years now and has his own apartment.

  6. weirds of the day

    God offal – holy sh*t
    gored oarful – paddled by Al Gore
    guard oval – the groove worn by sentries walking their post
    Gerd Orvil – named after a Saint in The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

  7. I think an interesting character might be a Nice Girl who has, at last, Had It. Who played by the rules only to find, in her fifties, that that plus $5 gets her a cup of coffee.

    I was a nice girl in the eighties, so I know the rules. I have a HE with my guy—but I can so easily imagine that not working out. Hell, my HE wouldn’t be everyone’s HE. So the deal that was broken, oh yeah, I can see that as fueling the hell of an angry, snarky, but, yes, at bottom wishing for a different ending, Nice Girl.

  8. I am quite nice on the outside. But screw with me, and you may not know what hit you. Just sayin’.

    My boss still says “you are too nice,” Because on the phone, I handle the talkers with compassion and don’t just get off the phone as soon as possible. But if I have the time for lonely or frustrated people I will give it. Everyone deserves to feel heard. However, the second sentence up there still aplies. My coworker laughs when the boss says I’m too nice. He KNOWS.

  9. I have my definition of nice,(Webster’s is not worried). Nice is when you do it, because you want somebody to think better of you,”But I’m being nice” OR people use it to manipulate, “You’re not nice if you… ”

    Kind is doing the right thing in a compassionate way.

    1. Amyll, I appreciate that distinction. I have never been nice, so I try very hard to be kind to make up the gap to “decent human”. Most days I do okay.

  10. Is Jenny in a rut re mothers & dogs?

    Bet Me – horrible mother – cat named Elvis
    WTT – dead mother – dog
    Faking It – nice mother – dog
    Agnes & the Hitman – horrible mother – dog
    Don’t Look Down – no mother & no dog (alligator)
    Wild Ride – no dog – don’t remember mother
    Tell Me Lies – horrible mother – dog
    Crazy For You – quirky not horrible mother – dog
    Getting Rid of Bradley – no mother – lots of dogs
    Fast Women – no mother – dog
    Maybe This Time – quirky not horrible mother – no dog (ghosts)

    I’m thinking – no rut!!!

    1. I just finished re-reading Strange Bedfellows. There was a horrible mother in it but not the heroine’s.
      I do wonder if Tess managed to rehabilitate her old friend Lanny from the cynical right-winger he had become. In my imaginings she does re-humanize him but they continue to bicker affectionately. And her opinions also mellow with age and experience.

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