Thursday, July 30, 2009

I placed BUT...

Well... the fabulous news is that I came third in the RWNZ Great Beginnings contest. The finalists were judged by Kimberley Young of M&B and she gave me some comments on my first chap and synopsis.

Overall she said they loved my voice but I need to be careful of forcing humour; the hero is strong and the heroine's emotional conflicts progress well BUT there could be MORE between them AND although they loved the set-up (a road-trip) part of the conflict feels plot-driven and is therefore CONTRIVED!!!

ARGH!!! Can you hear me screaming?

I have two things bothering me now a) what the hell does contrived mean exactly, cos I've read so many category romances that are fabulous but seem far more contrived than mine and b) if the mss wasn't requested from the contest, what chance have I got that the full of the partial (currently with the editor working with me) will be requested.

So... while I'm pondering what moves I should make next with regards to rewrites, totally new stories or just waiting it out to see what happens, I'd love to hear your opinion on what exactly a contrived plot is!! Any ideas...


Mel Teshco said...

congrats again Rachael!!
Hmm, contrived... I'm guessing it means the editor thinks that what is happening between H/H isn't naturally falling into place, it's forced or things are happening to 'make' them be together. Mind you, I haven't read the book and I'm only taking a stab in the dark! But honestly, you have so many positive comments, the contrived bit is tiny! You're half a step from being published!!!

Barbara said...


First, congrats on placing! To me, it means, your writing and voice is on track, which for some is the hardest to achieve.

I think Mel has the right definition for contrived.

I believe that the M&B ed could still request the full. They want to work with you! Don't give up.

Janette Radevski said...

Be so proud of your placement - it's huge. I'm totally clueless on the whole contrived thing, but yes, there are heaps of positives so don't let the whole contrived thing take away from that.

I know what you mean re other books - I too have read some and thought 'How on earth did this slip through?'

Finger crossed - there always is hope!

Felicity Roger said...

I agree with Mel's definition. Sometimes we have a wonderful scene in our head about how the book should that will kick it off into another sphere and grab an editors eye (totally yanking it out of its eyesocket)and we forget that the hero and heroine just wouldn't act that way or do the things we are making them do.

You should be able to strip away all the scenes and props and the conflict should still stand up.

Much easier said than done,as we all know. Ris Wilkinson suggested to me, in order to kerb my humour, that I write a Presents. Now, every time I go to put in some humour or the odd floating raft made from beer cans with a bright red bra as a flag, I ask myself does it ring true and is it coming from the characters, or am I dipping into my arsenal of props in order to keep my story bouyant.

At least we are all struggling with the same problem, so hopefully that means we will all get there together.

And congratulations on placing third. Awesome achievement and don't let the editors feedback take the gloss of that.

Jackie Ashenden said...

You are awesome and so is your writing. Never forget that, Rach!

Mel is right re the contrived bit. And all your story will need is a tweak. You had so many other nice comments - don't let that one bit drag you down.

BTW, Felicity? I LOVE the beer raft. I'm nicking that for my next book!! ;-)

Crystal-Rain Love said...

Chin up, honey.

Whether or not the ms was requested by the editor who judged the contest has no bearing over if a publisher will want it. I entered a paranormal in about five contests. Placed second in the first one (no request), and didn't even final in the other four. That book got me an 8-book contract with Imajinn Books, the same publisher that kick-started Keri Arthur's career.

You've won some nice bragging rights and that contest final will look very nice in your query letter. You should be very proud of yourself.

Take the comments into consideration, polish that baby up, and that very same judging editor might just snatch it up.

Anne McAllister said...

Congratulations! That's awesome news -- and getting such positive editorial comments is a great plus.

Re: 'contrived' -- take a look at your set-up or the way you have thrown them together and see if the conflict seems to be external or driven by the place they find themselves and not something inherent in them that would exist no matter where you put them.

Even if your set-up is 'contrived' there is nothing wrong with that as long as the conflict still exists beyond that.

Second, my gut feeling is to finish the book as you want it to be. Now is not the time to be trying to please and editor. Please yourself and your characters. There will be time for pleasing editors later. To try to second guess what an editor will want NOW is the quickest way to losing your enthusiam for your original story.

If you HAVE finished it, then by all means, take Kim's comments for what they are worth and see how you can use them to make your book stronger. But don't start tinkering with your people and your premise just because you want to please her.

Again, congrats! That's such great news.


Lacey Devlin said...

AHHH!!! I'm going to gush all over you!!!

CONGRATULATIONS you fabulous writer you. You're disgustingly talented do you know that? You're so VERY, VERY close!

Just think of all the people who didn't place (and this isn't a one off event so you can't say you're fluking it!) Then, think of all the people who write a book but never submit it! What about those who only talk about writing?

As Dory would say: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..."


Christina Phillips said...

Rach, congratulations on finalling! I'm so pleased for you.

As for the contrived comment, I'm with Mel, although it can be a very fine line. And Kim gave you loads of great comments you can work with!

Rachael Johns said...

Thanks muchly everyone for your lovely congrats!! I'm finally beginning to enjoy the placing and not wallow too much in the negative parts of the editor feedback.

I think you've hit the nail on the head Mel - NO FORCING the h&H together! Mental note to self!

Felicity - are you going Presents rather than Mod Heat now then?

Crysal -unfortunately the editor who judged is one of the Senior Editors where I currently have this mss :)

Anne - thank you for your advice. I think you are right that I should just try to write the best book I can until I hear back from the editor who has the sub. Now... if I can just get new idea to stop bothering me :)

Romy said...

Woohoo - congrats on placing so high!

My two cents ... In "The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance" Kate Walker devotes an entire chapter to the question 'Why?'. If you can motivate your characters believably, even contrived situations can become so credible that the reader no longer sees it as a plot device, but is drawn into their story.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Congrats on the placing Rach! That comment of your voice is just gold! Fantastic. As for contrived, Mel seems to have said it there. And like her, I would stick with positive comments - and if the editor has been working with you already, well like I said that voice is gold. Good luck!!

Rachael Johns said...

Thanks heaps Romy... I'm gonna go hunt down my copy of Kate Walker's book and head straight to that 'why' chap!

Thanks Eleni - if only my 'voice' could sell a book! LOL

Cathryn said...

HUGE congratulations on your third place, Rach. The GB's a tough contest so you've done fantastically well.

And I'm with Anne McAllister. Finish the book you're working on.

But I have to say that cos I'm desperate to find out what happens!

Joanne Cleary said...

yay on the 3rd place Rach.

Be super proud of yourself. Think of all the people who didn't place and people (like me!!) who are too chicken to enter our work anywhere :-)

You have already had loads of great advice so just congrats again.