everything I love about pretty woman....


Written on Monday, October 27, 2008 by haleigh

So I got new curtains, which of course meant hours standing in front of an ironing board to get rid of all the creases from the packaging. To occupy my mind, I started flipping through channels, and came across Pretty Woman.

Now I know a lot of people hate Pretty Woman, since it's a hooker being rescued by a rich man, blah, blah, blah, but I have always loved this movie.

I think for me, it's the characterization. You can't help (well, I can't help) but fall in love with these characters. Edward is the classic tortured alpha. You can just feel his desperation for something to change in his life. And in the end, because of her presence in his life, he makes those changes.

And Vivian! She's so unpretentious, so genuine, that you can't help but root for her. She's spunky! I was watching close this time, and I noticed something. At the beginning, Richard Gere's feelings for her shift around a lot. When she's just being herself (driving the Lotus, watching I Love Lucy), he likes her. You can see it in the way he looks at her and smiles at her. When she's acting like a prostitute (a defense mechanism, I would guess), he's instantly annoyed and put off by her.

One other thing I noticed this time (probably because I watched it out of order. I turned it on a third of the way through, watched to the end, then TNT politely started it over for me so I could see the first third :). Anyway, one thing I noticed is how much Edward's character changes. In the opening scene, he's on the phone with his girlfriend, and she's clearly on the brink of leaving him. He orders her to come to LA, when she refuses and threatens to leave, he says fine. He absolutely refuses to even ask her to stay, much less apologize.

However, when Vivian starts to leave (after the Polo game, when she gathers up her stuff and marches to the elevator), he responds completely differently. He chases her, makes himself emotionally vulnerable, and practically begs her to stay.

Interestingly, at no point does Edward tell her he loves her. But you see it, through every action and through the way his character changes. Even without any internal thoughts, you can watch the relationship develop through their actions.

I find this interesting for writing. While it's fine to use internal dialog and verbal dialog to show the changes in their relationship, we also have to make sure the characters themselves reflect it. Each of their actions should be influenced by the growing romantic relationship. One of the things readers demand is that they know, by the end of the book, that this relationship will last. So often, authors use an epilogue to tell readers that. (Yep, look, ten years later and they're still having regular sex, even with three kids. They must have a perfect relationship). My hatred for epilogues is a whole separate post, but the point here is that we can show that, through character changes and development. In Pretty Woman, you know Edward and Vivian will last because they're both different people by the end, and their relationship is based on that

So that's my thought for the day - sorry it's so rambling *g*

p.s. - I'm half tempted to post a picture of the curtains. They freakin rock.



Written on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 by haleigh

How's this for weird? In my WIP, the heroine google's the hero's name in an attempt to figure out more information about him. The first hit on google (in the story), is an obituary, which of course, raises a whole host of new questions (no, he's not a ghost :).

So I'm sitting here trying to figure out how much information she would get and how quickly. Would the headline say where he was supposedly killed (a key piece of information)? Or by whom (another important bit). Would she have to click on the article or just read the snippet on the search page.....

So, for inspiration, I googled the hero's name. What do you know, the first hit on google is an obituary, of a Marine on leave from Iraq (the hero is a former Marine, "killed" in Iraq). I don't want to make light of someone's death, but how weird is that?

shout outs


Written on Monday, October 20, 2008 by haleigh

Today, the pirates were discussing all the people that make us who we are as writers - teachers and critique partners and community groups and the romance community in general. And as I was thinking through all the people I need to thank in my journey so far (there are a lot! And I'm sure many many more to come), I realized I left one item off the list.

Not to be a corporate whore or anything, but I have to give a shout-out to the writing software I use, because otherwise, I'd still be a disorganized mess of scenes and chapters and notes and character sketches. As a non-linear writer, organization is a must, and this little baby keeps me organized.

For anyone unfamiliar with the deity that is Power Writer, here are a couple screen shots of what it looks like.

The center portion - the word processor - has the same functions as Word. It doesn't have every feature, but it's got the important ones (like formatting options and copy/paste and a thesaurus most importantly, spell check)

To the left you have your outline. In my opinion, the outline feature alone is worth the price of the software (which, by the way, is right around a hundred bucks). The outline to the left sorts your novel by scene, chapter, and act (yes, this was originally developed for screenplays - I use the acts to separate beginning, middle and end, so I can collapse the outline for whatever section I'm not working on).

Now here's the really hand-dandy part about the outline. Ready? You can drag and drop!!!!!!! (all the exclamation points are the equivalent of me doing a cheerleader squeal over this feature) Select a scene title, and drag and drop it into a new chapter! Wanna re-arrange your chapters? Drag and drop! Move act 3 to the beginning? No problem! This is where being a non-linear writer works - I can rearrange anything!

The scenes are also automatically separated and labeled in the document itself, but the scene titles will be removed when you export the document as an RTF to send it to agents and editors.

Also, you can label your scene titles in the outline - I mark them in pink for heroine's pov, blue for hero's, gray for villain's, etc. You can also put a little icon beside - I use a checkmark for when I'm finished, and exclamation point if I need to come back to something, etc.

And the final feature is the bar across the bottom. This is where you can store notes, character sketches, etc. They have a section for each character allowing for tons of info (along with a name generator), notes for each scene, each chapter, each act, and a general section for research.

Also, you can embed notes in the text - highlight a portion of text, attach a note to it, and later when you scroll over with the mouse, your note pops up in a little box. Freakin genius, man!

So anyway, that's my rambling shoutout to Power Writer. If you're looking for reasonably priced writing software, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I did have some snags switching from XP to Vista with it, but their support staff is great. And hey, Christmas is coming up, and you just know your mother-in-law is dying to splurge on something useful this year, right?

Thanks, Jessie, for reminding me I haven't posted in a while - hopefully soon I'll come up with something actually writing related to talk about! But in the meantime, hey, I've been productive (two more chapters revised!) so at least I'm keeping up on something!

growth and change


Written on Tuesday, October 07, 2008 by haleigh

As I'm revising Nowhere to Run, I'm putting together all these images of characters and thoughts in my mind for my next story. There's been talk on the blogs this week of characters - what type are they? What archetype? What personality type?

So I've been filtering all this through my mind as I think about Naomi and my next, nameless hero (I'm thinking Jameson, but I'm not set yet :) And what I'm realizing is that I've set myself up with an odd situation.

Naomi and "Jameson" were married once upon a time. High school sweethearts, passionate young love, and all that jazz. They were viciously ripped apart by "bad guy" (still need a name for him too :) In the ten years since, they've both changed. Fueled by anger and the bitter belief that his wife betrayed him, "Jameson" has turned inward, focused his entire existence on his job (under cover military intelligence) and perfected the perfect bad-boy lifestyle where he can set aside any emotion to get the job done. Naomi, in a desperate attempt to get revenge for her husband, whom she has thought dead all these years, has gone from the perky, girl next door cheerleader to a cold, calculating woman hell-bent on revenge.

So this is my conundrum: I need to know their characteristics as they stand now, when they meet again after all these years. How do they react? What do they do in the face of danger (there will be a lot). But I also need to know how they used to be, before "bad guy" came along, because there will have to be chapters set in the past to deal with how they were ripped apart. And even more importantly, I need to know how they will change as the story goes on. Once "Jameson" realizes Naomi did not betray him, does he revert back to his witty, charming, open high-school self? Does Naomi turn back into the perky cheerleader after 10 years of living with revenge? I can't imagine either of them would.

So how will they change? I'm guessing they re-gain some of their former characteristics (i.e. Naomi allows herself to feel emotion again, and "Jameson" will be a bit more open with Naomi, at least). So I need to be careful, over the course of the novel, to watch not only if things are "in-character" at the moment, but how that character grows and changes based on the emotional developments.

Hmmm, I'm starting to think I've gotten in over my head :) Anybody else have major personality changes for their character? Have any advice for me? Think I'm insane?



Written on Friday, October 03, 2008 by haleigh

Today's blog post from Jessica Faust at Bookends Agency is chock full of phenomenal advice of how to get (and more importantly, keep!) an agent's attention. So beef up the end of chapter three and chapter four of your manuscript!

contests, contests, contests


Written on Thursday, October 02, 2008 by haleigh

It's official. I have jumped onto the contest bandwagon. Three contests, just this week! In my defense, they'll be the only ones this year - they just happened to fall on the same week.

So I (holding my breath and crossing my fingers) sent in submissions to the Suzannah contest (North Louisiana RWA chapter), the Beacon Unpublished contest (First Coast RWA chapter), and signed up for Golden Heart.

I figured signing up now for Golden Heart would accomplish two things: keep me from getting blocked out if they hit their cap of 1,200 entries, and force me to finish my revisions. I paid my fifty dollars, so you better believe something is getting sent in by Dec. 2nd! How's that for motivation?

For anyone else currently trying to navigate contests, Stephie Smith has a brilliant and up-to-date chart of all contests, their rules, and dates, and their judges here.

Also, the Beacon contest deadline was extended (I really wish I'd known that last night when I frantically turned in my submission at 11:46 pm - lol) until the 7th. They're looking for more inspirational, erotic, and short/series contep if anyone's got them. It looks like a pretty good list of final round judges!

Anyone else submitting to contests - Golden Heart or smaller ones? Do you have any specific strategy for picking from among the pletorha of contests that exist (cause really, you could go broke fast entering too many of them!).

I made myself an excel chart of the contests I'm interested in, complete with final-round judge info, and a ranking system for msyelf of which I'm most interested in (yes, I'm a complete geek!). My strategy has been to look at who's judging the final round - if it's an agent or publisher I'm intersted in, then I go for it. If it's not, I pass.

Anyone else have a strategy?