As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently lucky enough to spend a week in Italy on a
writing retreat. Okay, I spent two days terrified that I would be burned alive and the rest of it feeling like the walking dead due to sharing a room with a consumptive snorer. But hey, it was Umbria, the sun was shining, I was with my sister, her fun friend and Sue Moorcroft. Who’s complaining?
I returned enthused with ideas for short stories, including a character, Sarah, complete with external and internal conflicts. Problem is I’m doing my usual doom and gloom jobbie which will not sell into the women’s fiction market. Who wants to read about a single mum who, having won a dream holiday for two, ends up setting her children against each other? This is hardly a sympathetic character. She’s even making me uncomfortable, and I know there’s a happy ending. Great conflict, definitely going to create an emotional response in the reader, but in terms of cheques in the bank? Nope. Never.
How to rescue the plot and create a feel-good sort of mood?
I tried Googling “how to write an upbeat story”. You know what? There’s not that much out there. Seems we love to wallow in misery. And isn’t one rule of writing good fiction to keep twisting the knife and make things worse for our main character?
I did find one article on making your writing upbeat and fun, but it wasn’t much help. I should try using humour, simple words and sentences (like I’m going to send something Dickensian to a woman’s magazine). Oh and ‘keep your mood upbeat and fun’. Right. ‘Hey, Mum. You know that holiday for two to Hawaii? I don’t have anyone to go with. Should I email Brad Pitt? I hear he’s single again. Do you think he’d be desperate enough?’ Doesn’t really fit with a struggling single mother of two who hasn’t got enough money to get her car through it’s next MOT and is still in love with her ex-husband, does it?
Or does it?