WIP Week, Dispatch #3: Nominated (Camp NaNoWriMo July 2011 – original version)

Welcome to the third day of WIP Week, where we check in on what’s happening with my current works-in-progress. 

Today’s WIP was written in July as part of Camp NaNoWriMo 2011, since – apparently – I could not wait until November to get this out of my hair. Not only did it reach 50k by the end of July, but the story finally ended at around 75k on October 2011. Impressive, you say? Not until you find out what I’m planning to do with this turkey… 


Title: Nominated (original version) 

Abstract (as of this writing): Nearly 18 months after her fiance breaks their engagement, Claire Packard leaves her job as a banker in Singapore for a new life in LA. Things go awry, however, when she meets Ethan Trent, a current nominee for Best Actor at the Academy Awards… who just happens to be on the market for someone to walk the red carpet with him at the Oscars. Hijinks ensue.
Revision status: I’ll be blunt here. This is the second manuscript that has been screwed up as a result of my real-life adventures at the Manila Pen…. and by “screwed up” I mean “practically torched to the ground.”

Much of the damage to this manuscript is attributed to the Ethan character, who – let’s face it – is a real bitch to translate into complete fiction at this point. It’s one thing for Ethan to be “inspired by” certain characters in real life, based on bits and pieces built from gossip columns and random IMDb entries. But what do you do when two of the actors who have “inspired” the character – yes, Edward Norton, I’m also looking at you –  are running around your neighborhood, (allegedly) making damned fools of themselves depending on which gossip site you’re reading? And once you’ve shared the same breathing space with the primary template for the character – seriously, read the name “Ethan Trent” and tell me you didn’t see that one coming – how are you supposed to convince yourself that you wrote a novel, and not a disturbing piece of fanfic?

Compare that to, say, Jack Stanton from World on a Plate, who was conceived under similar circumstances. Sure, I wrote that novel in the throes of a bad crush on Bob Blumer – and I might giggle if I ever get the chance to meet him in the middle of high tea at the Pen – but let’s face it: Glutton for Punishment swims in the same thematic pool as No Reservations, so it’s also possible to read it as a shout-out to Bourdain. (Or Jamie, or Gertler, or Jeff Corwin.) There’s also an emotional distance factor that fell in place as soon as I introduced Gavin as the real brains behind Jack’s show, which exorcised the Gary Stu elements from Jack in favor of making him less saintly.

But Ethan, on the other hand… Fine, I’ll change his name. That’s still not going to make the fictionalization process any easier, even if I have to throw Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender into that mix.

What else is going on? Like Ellie in Plate, Claire Packard has the potential to be a great character: I could do a lot of things about her Ivy League education, her broken engagement, and her reunion with her long-lost friend Sandy. Now that I think about it, however, Claire didn’t deserve to be weighed down by so much melodrama in the first six chapters of the original manuscript, which stands in stark contrast to the fluffy chick-lit fantasy world that she steps into once she gets involved with Ethan. Thus, I have made the painful but necessary decision to divest the novel of those six chapters, in favor of getting Claire and Ethan straight into the courtship dance. But that doesn’t mean those chapters are going to disappear altogether…

Do I want to see this published produced redeemed? I can’t see myself working on this right now; as far as I’m concerned, I’ve moved the revisions to Plate back into priority status, and it will take me another year or so before I revisit this story. So far I’ve attempted to adapt this into a screenplay, but I’m thinking about turning this treatment into an old-fashioned screwball comedy of manners, set in the newfangled world of TMZ and Perez Hilton.

As for the six chapters I’ve mentioned earlier: We’ll talk about them tomorrow. 

Does this need a critique? Only if there are no lawyers involved. 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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