Thursday, April 26, 2012
No One Would Believe It
Status: I won not one, but two query critiques. And one of them, as I mentioned in an earlier post, was two rounds worth. These critiques were so incredibly awesome, and I'm all sorts of crazy happy with the result. I didn't realize just how very much was missing from my old query until I finally had the most recent version. And it's not just me this time! For example, the feedback from the second round of critiquing actually involved the words, "Wow Ashley!" Yay! So I've sent out a few queries now that I think I'm (finally!) all set.
Number of queries sent: 32
Number of form rejections: 16
Number of detailed rejections: 2
Number of requests for additional materials: 2
Okay, so today, I want to talk about a couple of common phrases. The first being, "Truth is stranger than fiction." Then there's the whole, "Write what you know," thing. I guess the ultimate point I'm going to make in this post is that the two sometimes just can't happen at the same time.
Let's take, for example, the romance element of many novels and movies. There's always a lot of conflict. At first, it seems like they're right for each other, but then everything somehow goes to hell. Then maybe one of them starts to date someone else. Maybe both of them do. Perhaps some sort of strange love triangle forms. Or perhaps, for a while, they don't see or speak to each other. Maybe for a while they think they hate each other. Hearts are broken. Tears are spilled. They begin to think they will never truly experience happiness. And then, at the last second, they realize that they are meant to be, and live happily ever after.
That basically sums up about 3/4 of all romantic comedies ever filmed, if not more. I don't read too many romantic comedy type books (is that considered chick lit?), but I'm going to guess that they're comparable. The conflict and the waiting and the angst are what make it so entertaining. They're also what make it even marginally believable. I mean, no one believes in love at first sight anymore, anyway, right?
How's this for a story? A girl is the Maid of Honor in a wedding. She shows up for the rehearsal, which is being held in this outdoor, stone amphitheater. She's walking down the stone steps, and sees the groom and his brother standing at the bottom. She's never met the brother, who is the Best Man. The brother hears the girl on the steps, turns around, and their eyes lock. And in that instant, the girl knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the boy she's supposed to marry. They flirt through the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. They dance the night away at the wedding itself. She catches the bouquet and he catches the garter. They start talking on the phone and online a few days later. A few days after that, the boy tells the girl that as soon as he saw her, he fell completely and totally in love. He tells her that he has every intention of marrying her. Despite the fact that they've only known each other for about a week, the girl couldn't be happier. A year and a half later, they are officially engaged. But they are young, so they wait several years to actually get married. They start living together in the meantime. They plan their lives together. The more they get to know each other, the more they are certain that they were right in that moment when their eyes met, and they knew they'd found the one. Nearly seven years after the day they met, they finally got married. And then they lived happily ever after.
No one would believe that. It would be sappy and ridiculous and over the top. There's no conflict. There were no fights. There were no breakups. There were no exes coming back into the picture. They just fell in love in the span of a heartbeat and that was that. What a bullshit premise for a romance, right?
Except that is my story. That is exactly how my husband and I met. That's exactly how our relationship progressed. But could I use that in one of my books? Hell no! People would just laugh at how silly and naive I am for writing such a thing. So, in my case, truth is definitely stranger than fiction, and no way can I write what I know for a romance in one of my books.
Or, at the very least, I can't use my story in its entirety (not that I'd want to, so bullet dodged there!). But I can use parts of it. I can use the way that I feel about my husband to express how my MC feels about her love interest. I can use funny or charming or adorable things that my husband or I have done for each other over the years. So even when truth is stranger than fiction, there are pieces of truth that can be infused into characters and plots and situations that can just make them feel all the more real and believable and powerful.
How about you? Is there anything that's ever happened in your life that, if you wrote it down, people would think you're a whacked writer with no sense of reality?