Thursday, August 06, 2009

What color is your manuscript?

I had lunch with a writer pal, Lynne Marshall, some time ago. We met halfway as we live three hours apart and chose the small town of Monrovia just off the 210 Fwy. What a delightful main street. All of the shops and restaurants were trimmed in nice woods and hunter green and people were actually out walking. Go figure. I felt like I'd stepped back in time.

We had a great Italian lunch at Bela Sera and nobody hurried us out. We spent a couple of hours there chatting about writing. Lynne writes medical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. I think to date she has something like six books out and a couple more in the works. We talked about her current story, now in its first draft, and she said she would let it sit for a couple of weeks before rewriting. I said something about taking a vacation then coming home and adding in all the good stuff. She said, "You're right. I'll color it all in." And those words stimulated this blog post.

On the drive home I thought about Lynne's words, and have often done so since. Lynne's stories have a richness of emotional layers. I imagined her stories in color and sensed vibrant reds and purples, rich dark greens and vivid blues. And always a touch of sunny yellow to counteract the dark storms of relationship and medical catastrophe. Her stories always have romance, of course, but there are also deep layers of medical illness, babies being born, work tensions in her make-shift hospital, emergencies, near death situations and family issues. I've given up trying to read these stories when I travel by plane as they always make me cry. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, I just don't want to arrive looking like I've been dragged through some emotional storm of my own. : )

Anyway, that got me to thinking about what colors I would use if I were coloring in the pictures of my own stories. I've tried my hand at several romance sub genres trying to figure out where my voice could do its best work. I don't write erotica so no pulsing red for me. I tried paranormal but they were more like paranormal cozies, nice witches and ghosts. : ) Then I tried romantic suspense but wasn't writing dark enough for today's market, so not enough black color.

Am I a pastel writer? Yikes! I don't want to do watercolors. I want big bold canvasses heavy with oil paint. I finally sat down and looked for the core or the ongoing theme in my stories and found they all held a mystery but they also included romance and family issues. Not what you would call a cozy, I don't think, but definitely mystery at the forefront. So I shifted my focus to concentrate on the solving of the mystery and made my protagonist an amateur sleuth. The first story is finished, rewritten and currently being polished. I loved writing it. The second one is almost done in first draft. In these two stories my colors are richer, definitely more oranges and hot fuchsia pink, dark browns, and grays. The second one may even have some black. ; )

So, what color is your manuscript?

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