Today I'm going to hit "send" on a proposal that I've been fretting over for the last few weeks. If you read my personal blog, you'll know I've complained about this manuscript a *few* times. What's the issue? Well, it's not what I usually write. And I guess I'm a little bit of a chicken when it comes to doing something different. I love routine. I love knowing exactly what to expect-and I didn't know what to expect with this one.
The last few manuscripts I've written have been set in small towns, with a load of secondary characters that small town romances are known for. This book, is anything but small town. It's set in France and begins with my hero and heroine meeting in Paris. Then they end up in the French Alps...I know, I know, why am I complaining, right? Because as much as this is fun to write, my insecurity over not getting it right has prevented me from chugging along at a quick pace. I've second-guessed everything.
Thankfully, two of The Hot Pink sisters came to my rescue (or they were just so tired of reading my whining emails that they had pity on me and read the damn thing.) I was relieved to find there were no major problems, no glaring omissions, and that they had many nice things to say-along with great constructive feedback.
So what was it that worked then? How did I make a manuscript that took me out of my comfort zone work? Here are some tips/tricks that worked for me:
1) Research until confident: I had to do much more 'research' for this one. You can't write about things authentically if you don't know enough about them. So I scoured the Internet for pictures/descriptions of famous Parisian hotels. I figured out the distance, the route that my hero/heroine would have to take in order to drive from Paris to the French Alps. I did a little research on the architecture of a French chateau and what renovated ones look like. This was so important, because if I hadn't done this, I wouldn't have had the confidence to write the setting, the characters' impressions of where they were and where they were going.
2) Stay true to your voice: I think this was integral to making the manuscript work. But I found myself straying a little and I think that caused me a lot of doubt. There were a few lines that just didn't sit right-because they weren't true to my voice, to my characters. But when I identified that, I was quickly able to go in and adjust it to my own 'voice' and still have the characters behave in an authentic way. I don't think that just because your book is different from what you normally write, that you can change your voice.
3) Write who you love: Even though this book has more external conflict than I'm used to, and the characters have professions that are way different than I usually write, they are my classic type of character (as pointed out by the lovely, Olivia). You can't write a different character for the sake of it. You still have to love who you're writing about. You have to be able to understand them inside and out. If you can't, then your reader certainly won't love them either.
I'm going to look over the synopsis of this manuscript one last time and then, that's it, gone! Its fate lies in the hands of my editor.
So what about you? Do you tend to gravitate toward writing similar settings? Or do you like to switch things up? Am I the only chicken around here? ;-)