|Cheryl Cole ... see the resemblance???|
I may not have got to wear a sparkly dress, but I’ve enjoyed being a mentor anyway. I could see exactly why all ten chapters had made it through to the second round. All had that indefinable voice that makes the words jump from the page, the elusive PTQ that makes you forget about inconsistencies in the characters or gaping holes in the plot. Luckily, all three of the first chapters in Team Jessica were quite different in style - The Secret Duchess was intriguing and atmospheric, Secrets & Speed Dating had a lovely contemporary tone, and The Surgeon and the Cowgirl had great dialogue and a punchy style – and it was so interesting to see how the stories developed.
I was so disappointed Sharon didn’t get through to the last round, as I loved the dark, edgy style of her Regency, but of course am thrilled for Leah and Heidi. Now they’re writing their ‘pivotal moments’. We’ve had some discussion about what those moments should be. Every scene should show some change (hey, we all know that, don’t we?), so it’s about finding a really intense, emotional moment that shifts the relationship between the hero and heroine fundamentally – which is easy to say in theory, but a lot trickier to pull off in practice, especially when you’re trying to do it out of context.
The whole experience has made me think a lot more about what I actually do when I write. It’s usually a subconscious process, so I never sit down and think, “today I’m going to write a pivotal scene”, or “now I need to intensify the tension”. When I get to the end of my first draft (the one I’m writing at the moment) I should be able to see where things are getting baggy – often in the middle where I tend to get bogged down in scenes where there hero and heroine are acting and communicating but somehow the story’s not going anywhere. It’s always painful to cut whole scenes that have taken hours to write, but it has to be done. Then comes the tightening/rewriting stage, but that’s another story …