So on Friday I decided to buckle down and get working on the 1794 revision, instead of starting a new short. I added more showing to the first few pages where some colleagues had suggested it…and then promptly set it aside and wrote 1200 words of backstory and world-building for the shiny cyberpunky story I thought of last week. Which at least felt really good and got it out of my system somewhat.
On Saturday I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a workshop with Ann Voss Peterson on Keeping the Romance in Your Romance Novel. This was fabulously useful, and if you ever get a chance to take one of Ann's workshops I would highly recommend you do so.
One thing that was really refreshing is that Ann mentioned that she's always had an easy time with the suspense and action, but a hard time with the romance. I feel the same way, as some of you may have guessed. I tend to write romances where the romantic conflict comes from the outside, rather than conflict between the characters involved in the romance. ("When in Rome" and "Encore" being exceptions to this, which is perhaps why I think those are two of my better short stories.) I think part of this is due to the fact I have spent most of my adult life trying to avoid drama, and I've always rather viewed a lot of romantic conflict as pure drama. What I loved about Ann's workshop was that the romantic conflict she espouses comes from real believable fears and needs, not from misunderstanding or angst or the fact that people have unrealistic expectations.
1794 has suffered from a lack of romantic conflict, which I knew but wasn't quite sure how to fix. Part of that was sheer laziness on my part—I didn't want to have to make these characters hem and haw over things that I thought would logically not be that big a deal. But once I started thinking about each character's deeper emotional fears and needs, I started to see places where I could add more interpersonal conflict both romantically and plot-wise without making my characters mopey whiney curs. Hooray!
In short, it was a very well-timed workshop and I'm excited about working on the story again, rather than looking at it as a chore. Thanks Ann!