Lesson One…Listen to your gut.


Back in 1996 I was doing a writing course run by a published romance writer. I came up with the idea for this book (which is now The Nurse’s Longed-For Family)…a tortured, brooding hero whose son had died.Even with all his all his medical skill, Alex could not save him.

The writing teacher said, “oh please, that has been done; make him flirty.’ It didn’t seem right to me.

LESSON ONE…always listen to your gut.

But here I was, one book under my belt, one rejected book , and she had three books out. What did I know? She must have known something, right?

LESSON ONE..Always listen to your gut.

I didn’t. Instead I rationalised that if an editor ever asked me to do something, I had to be able to do it.

So I wrote Alex as this flirty doctor who never would commit because love hurt. I had this spectacular scene full of double entrendres in regards to tennis and sex. He was sexy, he was outrageous and HMB hated him.

This book got the most resounding rejection of any of my books. The HMB reader said “I wasn’t convinced by the hero’s aim to be footloose and fancy free. To be honest, it seemed somewhat at odds with the deep grief he was meant to be harbouring for his son. Surely this would have made him more likely to avoid commitment altogether than wanting to play games with the heroine.”

Three critique partners, one writing teacher and one author who had ignored her gut, had completely missed this.

So last year I rewrote the book. I wrote Alex the way I had always pictured him. Struggling with his grief. Determined never to love again and definitely never to become involved with a child again, because what if something happened? He could never survive that sort of pain again.
And he flew onto the page. I had dripped blood writing him 8 years prior. But this time he was so very real.

No.’ The word came out harsh and abrupt, cutting the conversation off completely.
Jess felt like she’d been hit by an artic blast. The deep tension lines reappeared on his face and his stance became rigid. It was as if he’d hung up a DO NOT ENTER sign and created a “no-go” force field.
All her earlier apprehension returned in a rush. So much for making polite conversation. They’d hardly started and he’d shutdown as tight as a drum. Just great. David had left her with a prickly, moody doctor. It was going to be a long three months.

The familiar tightening gripped Alex’s chest. Hell! One innocent question from David’s practice nurse and his emotions unravelled.
He saw the surprise and shock on her face at his harsh “No.” He should explain but right now he couldn’t go there.
Too hard. Far too hard. And what could he really say? Words didn’t help. His son was dead and time didn’t heal.

So please, listen to your gut. If you believe in your characters that belief will come through loud and clear. You will have sympathetic hereos that readers love and really cheer for.

I hope you enjoy Alex…I think he is gorgeous!

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5 thoughts on “Lesson One…Listen to your gut.

  1. I’m so with you there Fiona! Michelle Styles did a post on The Pink Heart Society yesterday with much the same tale. At a dozen different stages she could have been turned away from her big idea. Scary!

    There’s a lot to be said for women’s intuition!

    Ally

  2. I’m taking notes, Fiona!
    In a recent rejection, the ed. objected to my heroine, thought she was unbelievable…I love that character. She’s based…loosely…on some of my sons’ college age friends. I think I ‘nailed’ her. Editor said that character would ‘never’ work for them…[big sigh]
    I still love my character!
    Carol

  3. Thanks, gals, glad you’re enjoying it.
    I better blog the next bit! I’ve been nose down in the current WIP

    Carol, perhaps there was one bit of her personality not quite clear on the page is the editor couldn’t visualise her working in that career…?
    Just a thought

  4. Definitely go with your gut! And I’m still annoyed because my copy of the Nurse’s Longed-For Family hasn’t arrived from Amazon. Grr….

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