Monday, August 15, 2011

Starting a New Book

Sorry I'm late! I see a few of you already peeked over at the blog for the new post, but, I just got up! LOL And I had a bad week last week with my friend's funeral etc. So I didn't blog ahead.

But I'm here now.

And we're going to talk about starting a new book. Why? Because I'm starting one. LOL

So let's talk about what I do.

First off, I think about my characters. Who do I want to write about? After all, I'll be spending some serious time with these who do I want to write about? Who do I want to spend that much time with?

Because this book is a spinoff of a book I just turned in to Harlequin, I already have some characters. Including the hero.

The hero's backstory is a bit complicated, so I focused there, digging for my story.

Digging? How the heck do you dig for a story when you have nothing!

Well, with a list of 20...we've talked about that in other blog posts. If you missed it go to the ezine. I think I talk about the list of 20 in this month's issue.

Anyway, the most important thing about a list of 20 is a good question ... so I said, how can I turn the hero's conflict into a romantic conflict?

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I listed his conflict. He is adopted. But when he was 18 he discovered that his adoptive father was actually his biological father. His dad was a real butthead. He got one of his employees pregnant, then paid her to have the baby and sign it over to him. All of which doesn't sound too bad until you discover that he didn't tell his wife the real story.

He conned her into "helping" this poor employee by adopting her child and raising him well. At eighteen he discovers all this and his dad begs him not to tell mom. He's so angry with his dad he can't even look at him. This causes tension for the whole family. So he leaves. And never even writes.

So now dad is dead and the hero is coming home...angry. Not wanting to hurt mom by telling her the truth, but agreeing with his older brother that it's time to come home and try to put the past behind him.

Okay. So I do a list of twenty, trying to figure out a way I can connect this conflict to a romantic conflict and though I came up with 20 ways...and some of them were good...I didn't feel the love in my heart.

And if I don't feel the love in my heart then readers aren't going to feel it either.

So I figured I was still emotionally a bit shaky from the funeral of my friend and I stepped away from the list of 20 and the book. I'd come back to it later.

And for two days I did nothing on the book, and then low and behold, in church (as always!) I got inspired.

This book wasn't about the hero. He's a wounded, grumpy pain in the butt. But the book wasn't about him. It was about the heroine.

Without giving away the story, I raced home, wrote a one-paragraph story summary and then jumped into a could, might, must and should list.

That's right...a list of potential scenes. Some could happen. Some might happen. Some MUST happen to make the plot work. And some should happen.

At this point I don't have a lot of scenes. I'm still getting to know my heroine. I'm thinking about her. Kind of wistfully. Her story is sad. And she deserves something good in her life. And as I think about who she is and what she needs, the manifestation of the story I wrote in my one-paragraph (more scenes, more emotion, more backstory) gets clearer in my head.

Today, I want to get even clearer. I'll be thinking things like...What's the worst thing that can happen to these people? (LOL) How can I get them together? How DOES his story play into this?

As you're reading this, I want you to note how many times I ask myself questions. Why? Because asking questions is the best way to analyze things.

So there you have it. A sort of generic description of how I start a book. Note that I don't yet have a synopsis...but I feel it bubbling beneath the surface. LOL

Start with characters. Don't be afraid to shift focus. See how the story works if one character or another character's story is the "lead." Do lists of twenty. Think about potential scenes and officially write a could, might, must and should list.

But most of all...Know your story's heart.

Hum...maybe that would be a good thing to talk about next week?


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