Friday, January 07, 2011

Writing when you're sick

Despite having taken the flu shot last October, I got the flu this week. But hopefully I'm on the mend. Monday night was truly awful. I thought I was going to die. Every muscle in my body felt like jelly and I was running a fever so I was alternately hot and cold. Went to bed around 9pm and slept till 10 Tuesday morning. Thank you, Nyquil! Tuesday night was a little bit better and then Wednesday afternoon I began running a fever again. I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions and you should have seen their faces when I handed over my credit card. No one wanted to touch it. Not kidding. I was hacking, my eyes were running and my hair was literally sticking out on end. I guess I don't blame them, but honestly? I needed my drugs, people! Plus that is what anti-bacterial soap is for.

The only good part of being sick is that I have an excuse to hang out in my jammies and watch TV. So I did an Office marathon. I could watch the show with Jim and Pam's wedding over and over. Which I did...

So back to my writing. All this means that I did little to no writing this week. Although I did think about my new novel a lot. And thinking inspires ideas and from that come more ideas. And all of that is good. I will tell you that I've struggled with the beginning of this story. And I think it's because I don't have a firm grasp on the main character. I know her name (it's Emma) but I can't picture her yet.

When I came up with the idea for The Ugly Girlfriend I wrote up a synopsis to send to my agent. The original blurb went something like this: The Ugly Girlfriend is a romantic comedy about an ex-Homecoming queen who accidentally discovers she's now the "ugly friend" in her group of big city night clubbing girlfriends and decides to go back to her small hometown to reclaim her "mojo."

I wrote up the synopsis. And let me just say that I really hate writing up a synopsis on a story that isn't written. But it's a necessity for some of us in the business. Your agent wants to know what the story is about. So does an editor. But the story isn't sold yet (and may never be on the proposal I wrote) so this gives me a lot of creative slack to basically do what I want.

My agent liked the synopsis but I wanted some feedback from readers. So the next thing I did was show the synopsis to people I trust. Now... this is just what I like to do. It might not be what you like to do, but let me tell you why I think this is really important. The way people respond to an idea or to a storyline will give you an idea of how marketable that story is. You want people to be excited about your story. I got a lot of excitement with the title, but the synopsis fell a little flat with my beta readers. None of them liked the idea that my main character was an ex Homecoming Queen. "How can she be the ugly friend if she's "pretty?"

I had to think long and hard about this one. My original idea was that my protagonist, Emma, was pretty, but that she'd let herself "go." Plus, pretty is extremely subjective. You can be "pretty" and still be the ugly friend. However, after some thought, I finally agreed with my beta readers. If I'm going to write a story about an ugly friend, then I have to go all the way. This will completely change a lot of the story outlined in the synopsis. But that's okay. I love starting a story not quite sure where it will take me.


Tanashia said...

I hope u get to feeling better, Maria. I like the idea for your next book!

Maria Geraci said...

Thanks, Tanashia!

Marilyn Brant said...

Maria, the flu just sucks! Glad you're on the mend and enjoying playing around with this new idea. I think it's got a lot of promise ;). xo

Tonya Kappes said...

I love the story line for your new book AND I do think that the "pretty girl" does have those situations.

I hope you feel much better. I'm sorry you got the shot and it didn't work for you. Feel better soon.


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