Emmie Mears
SFF. Queer AF.

Murder, Tea, and Piggles

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Murder, Tea, and Piggles

This week I began another rewrite for my first book. For the first time, I feel like my protagonist has something going for her. I’ve probably rewritten the same first chapter twelve times over the past six years, trying to reinvent the wheel over and over and over again. What I needed was for someone to come along, look at it, shake their head and say, “Nope. You’re facing the wrong way. Look over there.”

Last week, the lovely Julie Kenner did just that for me. The result has been oddly liberating. Not only do I feel able to better express a more fully-realized protagonist, but the new goals I wrote for her can be woven seamlessly into the rest of the book. Instead of feeling like I’m reinventing her, I actually feel like I was able to peel back her exterior to figure out exactly what it is that she needed to be. It works — she is much better this way. There are so many little Easter eggs to sprinkle through the book now, and I think that will ultimately make it a more satisfying read for people. I’d love to tell you about them, but as a whole one or two of you have actually read the thing, it wouldn’t make any sense. So you’ll just have to wait. Until I find an agent, sell the book, and it someday gets published.

Yesterday, Karen McFarland hosted New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer on her blog for a great guest post about creating unforgettable characters. I would highly recommend that you check it out. There were some nuggets in there that I definitely intend to keep in mind when I continue this rewrite.

What struck me most about the advice and feedback I’ve gotten lately is that people need motivations for things. They may not be positive things — in fact, I think that often people are more motivated by the threat of something negative than the possibility of something positive — but they have to be present. Whether it’s trying to get your reader to accept why your protagonist is trusting that stranger or why she is so determined to keep something secret, the reader has to be able to say she understands even if she wouldn’t make the same choice.

So as I strike out on this new path (hopefully not in the baseball sense of the phrase), my protagonist has a few new things in her backpack, including a cat named Piggles. My friend has a cat called Miggles, and when I was thinking about her cat, I was thinking of him going hungry and being mad about it, and voila — Piggles was born. He should be an interesting kitty to play with.

A dog kitty

This is about how I picture Piggles. A dog kitty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The past few weeks, I’ve been acting as a beta reader for three friends. It’s been a really fascinating experience, both because it has shown me some amazing writing from three people who will certainly be big names in fantasy/paranormal fiction before long AND because it’s helping me to look more critically at my own work. All four of us are unpublished writers, and I think we’ve all felt the frustration of running into walls with our work. Sometimes you just get too close to something to be able to see what needs to be fixed. None of us are professionals, but we all have completed novels and all have the goal of being traditionally published. I think we’re all happy to have the chance to get feedback on our work from writers in the same genre.

I think we’re all guilty of getting too close to things, whether you’re a writer or not. Sometimes we get so focused on whatever goal is floating in front our faces that we get lost in that metaphor about seeing the forest through the trees. It’s hard to see the forest when your nose is stuck between a couple creases of bark.

Bark of a Pine tree showing normal sloughing o...

Forest? What forest? Bark of a Pine tree showing normal sloughing of plates of bark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes we can get perspective on our own, but other times we need that gentle readjustment in our thinking to come from the outside — or sometimes we just need a bap on the head with a yardstick. I’m setting out on a new journey with some new goals this month. Instead of completing book three by April 15th, my goal is to have a submission-ready book one by June 1.

What have you needed perspective on in your life lately? Yardstick or gentle turn? Have you had to reevaluate your goals?

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Author | Emmie Comments | 6 Date | March 31, 2012


August McLaughlin

I so hear you on this, Emmie. A couple of weeks ago I got some exciting writing news and positive feedback from someone I deeply admire, yet found myself fixated brief, but harsh, criticism of an article I wrote. Taking that step outside truly is important. I spent two days hiking and have felt fully refreshed since.

Sometimes we need to step away from ALL feedback. And we really should be gentle with ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

March 31, 2012 | 12:17 pm

Amber Dane

Good post and best of luck to you and your friends on your writing journey. It is an emotional one, but setting target goals seem to work (for me anyway) I recently experienced a gentle ‘nudge’ per say and all the better for it. Thanks for sharing! Love the title post, murder & piggles made me click 🙂

March 31, 2012 | 12:20 pm


Your new path sounds like a productive one full of writing savvy know-how. We all need to take that path as often as we can. Thanks for being transparent for us!

March 31, 2012 | 5:49 pm

Jennifer Lewis Oliver

I feel you, Emmie. I’ve hit, climbed over, wandered around, and even smashed through a few walls in my WIP lately. I am so not looking forward to the rewrite, revision, editing stage. LOL!
It sounds like you’re on the right path though, and that’s great. Critique partners are wonderful resources, aren’t they? I’m glad you were able to find someone who could give you a nudge in the right direction. 🙂
Good luck to you on your writing journey!
Oh – and that kitty is just adorable!

April 1, 2012 | 9:43 am

Kourtney Heintz

Emmie, I just went through that with my YA book. I feel like the character was always there in the stone but I hadn’t carved it enough. As I went back through, I really liked her so much more and I understood her so much better. Motivation is so important. I may not agree with what a character is doing, but it has to be a natural extension of who they are.

Good luck with your revisions! 🙂

April 1, 2012 | 6:20 pm

    Emmie Mears

    Thanks! I am mostly looking forward to having some much needed zen writing time today. I’ve been in nothing but puppy mode and work mode since last week, and I am right about at cracking point.

    April 3, 2012 | 12:15 pm

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