Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Story Behind the Story



The best part of participation in writing contests is the chance to get to know other writers--like the wonderful Brenda Drake who organizes Pitch Wars every year. This year, I had the good fortune to be chosen as a Pitch Wars Mentee by Eden Plantz, who's been helping me whip my manuscript into shape. A big thank you to both Brenda and Eden.

As a 2014 Pitch Wars Mentee, I’ve enjoyed being part of one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever experienced. One among our ranks started a Facebook group for all the Mentees and Alternates where we’ve joined to celebrate, commiserate, and simply be community. Springing from one in that creative bunch was the idea for a blog hop featuring why we wrote our Pitch Wars novel. 

My manuscript, FRAMED, is a tale of starry-eyed dreamers who lose sight of their goals and themselves while chasing fame, an indictment of the spin used in news and social media to build, protect, or destroy image—no matter the cost. 

This story, however, is far different from the original premise. After spending three years on manuscripts built around one set of characters (something I’d been advised against multiple times), I wondered if I could tell another story. Truthfully, focusing on those novels was productive—it was a period of honing my craft, of chipping away at those million words they say it takes to become a proficient writer. But with completion of my first manuscript and its sequels, the inside of my head became too quiet. Could I write outside that world? The fear was real. What if that’s all I had in me?

FRAMED was the startling answer. Within days of posing that question, a story bloomed, triggered by a news report about a celebrity stalker and how she’d taken to social media to defend herself then disappeared. “What if?” questions rose around the news item, filling my head with ideas. I've long been fascinated by "spin" (maybe a result of my days as a corporate lobbyist); and with the advent of social media, spin has been taken to new levels. Since I'm a sucker for love stories involving unlikely pairs in untenable situations, I couldn't resist the obstacle-rich, behind-the-scenes world of celebrity fame as a setting. Unlike my other story ideas, this one came to me in a rush from start to finish with intricate subplots spiraling out from the main plot. After committing it all to paper, all six single-spaced pages of details, I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck. But I had my answer. And the best part, it was a story with characters and setting so different from my other manuscripts it gave me confidence and renewed belief in myself as a writer.

It was six months before I pulled out those notes and started writing. Of course, the characters had their own ideas about how the tale should be told, and I allowed them that; so there were plenty of surprises along the way. But that’s part of the fun of a first draft—discovering things along with the characters. I’m happy to say, I have another story brewing, and it, too, is a whole new world to explore. I can’t wait to get started on the next one!


Be sure and visit the other participating Blogs: 

23 comments:

  1. My manuscript took a bunch of left turns and zigzags, too, on my way to PitchWars. I'm loving where it's going, though. And I'm eager to get a move on with my next, too. May fortune be ever in your favor :)

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    1. The zigs and zags are what make it fun! May fortune shine on you, too!

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  2. I adore your book premise and love, love, love that you persevered and found your writing groove.

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    1. Thanks Carlee! And a big special hug and thanks for spearheading this blog hop! So much fun to read everyone's story. You're brilliant!

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  3. Ahhhh, I've said this on a few other posts, but I really, really love "What If" brainstorms.It sounds like yours really led you to the story you wanted to tell. Good luck in PitchWars!

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    1. Thanks! I go where the characters lead me! ;-) Best of luck to you, too!

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  4. Those "What if?" lightening strikes are gold. Fingers crossed for Framed in the agent round.

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    1. Nothing quite like that light bulb moment, is there? I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, too!

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  5. I love the sound of this. My next MS is a love story set in a celebrity fish bowl so I'd be fascinated in seeing your take. (Also, my main MFC's name is Eden coincidentally.) Good luck with your book!

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    1. Thanks! And absolutely, you can see mine (if you'll show me yours!). ;-) Fingers crossed for both of us!

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  6. This sounds awesome! And I love the surprises of a first draft too :) Good luck in Pitch Wars!

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    1. First drafts - both intimidating and fun, right? May luck be with us all!

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  7. Wow! This story sounds AWESOME. I'd love to read it!

    Good luck in PW, Susan! :D

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    1. Thanks! And I do hope you get to one day! I want to read all these amazing novels - such talent in this Pitch Wars group! Hope you find your dream agent!!

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  8. I love this premise. I'm already intrigued and want to know more. Reading these posts makes me think I need 74 more CPs. :)

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    1. Great CPs - there's nothing like them, and I'd be nowhere without mine!! Best of luck in PW!!

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  9. Sounds like you made the right decision stepping out of your comfort zone. Which is pretty much what it feels like every we start new books, huh?!

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    1. Those first steps outside the "zone" are always so daunting! (but always worth it.)

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  10. Sounds awesome. Good luck tomorrow!

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  11. I loved this post, Susan! I spent 4 years working on my last manuscript, thinking it was the last of all I had in me. I was stuck in a rut, revising it over and over. A writing friend of mine suggested I start something new. When the idea for my PitchWars manuscript came, it was like a choir of angels singing from heaven.

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  12. I have so been there when it comes to working on the same story for years. So glad you tried something new--this sounds awesome! Can't wait to read it someday!

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  13. Oh this sounds fun! Someday I hope to write a story that comes to me like that.

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  14. waiting for some more discuss...

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