Tuesday, 21 September 2010

You insufferable man!

The Mills and Boon New Voices competition has dominated my life since I heard about it last Wednesday – and, I have to admit, the last few days have been uniquely stressful for me. Thanks to everyone for their help and support.

I have read hundreds of entries and left encouraging and gushing comments on many (I’m not good at con. crit. or, at least, in framing it in words that I am confident will not upset the fragile equilibriums of my fellow writers, particularly in the heat of a competition. I think, in this context, it’s nice to be nice!)

Most usefully, however, I have poured again and again over the top tips and advice from the editors, and tried to trace where I, and my fellow writers, have got things right and wrong.

I'm now even more aware of aspects of my writing I need work on - like the use of cliché (see the title of this post!!) The best news is that, if I don’t get through, I think I will know why – and this is also partially down to recent advice given to me by the wonderful Liz Bailey on my overall synopsis.

The issue, both in the first chapter and, in a slightly different way, with the whole book, is Robert’s internal emotional conflict/emotional journey.

In chapter one, I am concerned that I do not really hammer home the internal conflict between Robert's attraction to Dora and his pride and ego as a writer/newspaper owner.  I hint at it in this section:


He looked back her way, green eyes flaring with a calculating intelligence.

‘Sorry, Miss Finch. The duelling ground is no place for a lady.'

‘No place for the daughter of your sworn rival, you mean? You’re scared I’ll tell Papa every little detail, and then his report will be so much better than yours.’

Robert’s expression darkened with impatient irritation - or was it defensiveness? ‘That isn’t it at all.’


But, after that, I let this conflict drop for the rest of the chapter. This is partially due to the matter that Robert does not yet know quite what a ‘threat’ Dora is.  He does not yet suspect she actually writes the paper, and thus she merely ‘amuses’ him at this stage.  However, I worry that this little hint will not be enough for editors to pick up on, even though the internal conflict between their attraction and their egos and pride (and, in Dora’s case, her fierce family loyalties) are flagged in the summary.

In fact, I now wish I had not entered in such a flustered rush and had instead re-edited chapter one for this single chapter submission.  The internal conflicts are better highlighted in the three chapter submission I had been preparing, where I didn’t have to worry so much about chapter one standing alone.

Hey ho! It’s all good – I now understand better one of the things I need to focus on as I polish the manuscript for proper submission. INTERNAL CONFLICT!!

Win or lose, next week I will shake my fist Scarlett O'Hara-style at the glowering sky, and vow 'they're not going to lick me!'

But, in the meantime, a girl needs her pleasures to take her mind off these things, so I was very pleased to see that more pictures of Take That in rowing gear have emerged...

Can't wait to see this video.  Here they are with their rowing doubles!

Jason managed to look yummy even with that regretful beard and...oh, Markie. Butter wouldn't melt...!!! (credit: markowendaily)


  1. Hi Cathryn, having read, and immensely enjoyed your chapter, I can say I did pick up on the paragraph you mention. It stood out actually and when she accuses him of worrying about his rival, you think, "ah, yes, I bet he IS thinking that!" I'd have to read again to see if I thought there should be a tad more conflict, but on the first reading, that thought certainly didn't cross my mind. I was just thinking, this is a damn good story and I want to know what happens next! HTH.

  2. Sophia - thank you so much! I'm glad it came across, it was supposed to be only hinted at in chapter one...but it was only after posting I thought 'maybe this isn't the moment to be subtle about these things!!' Your kind words make me feel so much better though - and I felt the same about your story. I loved the setting very much indeed and was completely pulled in and definitely wanted more (and not just because I'm a huuuuuuuuuuge fan of Roman fic :))

  3. Hi Cathryn, you know I loved your chapter which makes it really hard to actually crit it. It really felt like a breath of original fresh air in the comp and how it was overlooked I do not know. And I speak as one of the guilty parties submitting society tales full of rakes and debutantes never thinking outside the convention of the ton.
    Like Sophia I did pick up on a hint of arrogance and rivalry in your hero plus I thought he was HOT. Absolutely keep on with this, obviously I can only critique chapter 1 but it absolutely hooked me and I really want to keep reading (please)!

  4. Thank you so much - and sorry ity took me a while to get back to this comment. I've been a bit waylaid over the last week - really must update here :D

    *g*! So glad you thought Robert was hot. I had a lot of fun writing him and, um, this morning I wrote the love scene (chapter 13!!!) I will definitely make sure people can read more soon - thank you!