Monday, May 6, 2013

Give them something to do

I started a new book last week. I have a fantastic hero and heroine (if I do say so myself). They both have great goals. He wants to buy a big conglomerate. She wants to become successful. They have internal stuff. (I'm not going to tell you what their great internal conflicts are because that'll spoil the book...but trust me. They have great internal stuff.)

I set up a situation...Though she was hired to be an accountant at his company, she's pressed into service to be his assistant. They will see each other EVERY DAY!

Woo-Hoo! I have what looks to be a perfect set up...


What are they going to do everyday?

I could have them doing bits and pieces of the work required to investigate the purchase of something as big as a conglomerate...Wait. Did I just see you yawn?

Damn it. I did. Because not only is that boring; it also doesn't translate very well to the page.

I felt the same way myself this morning before I tossed my pen to the bed and went to breakfast with my husband. After hearing me whine about something being off with my book, he said, "We could go to church. You get your best ideas in church." True, but I don't think I could persuade the priest to give a sermon on a Monday morning just so I could scribble notes on the back of a church envelope.

So I thought of my last book. I had a little girl who didn't speak out loud, a kid who was failing sixth grade, a big goofy dog and a heroine who was supposed to be teaching the kid and babysitting the little girl.

They needed breakfast. They needed lunch. They needed school supplies and Christmas decorations. They had to eat supper. Somebody had to clean up. The little girl didn't have any clips for her hair. The little boy wanted to go to school in town to meet friends. All as they decorated for Christmas.

These people had a lot to do. I had absolutely no problems coming up with stuff for them to do. Yet this morning I couldn't think of a darned thing for my new H and H to do.

So I created a list of twenty. What are twenty things these two can do? Big things, important things that don't just give them busy work but also illustrate those great internal conflicts I told you about above.

And finally I found something. I won't tell you what it is. But trust me, it doesn't just give them work and movement it also reflects back on the internal conflicts and makes the hero and heroine talk.

I call all that a vehicle. There has to be something that gets your characters moving...and interestingly. Something that gets your characters to interact. It can be the things that lead them to their goals...what I picked to get my people moving is something that has to do with buying that conglomerate. LOL But it's something that illustrates or shines a light on their internal conflicts even as it requires motion and interaction.

In other words, I'll be giving my people something to do. :)

Take a look at your own book. Are the H and H always going to the diner? Are you creating scenes around getting up and going to bed (alone...if they're having sex...carry on)? Do your chapters ALWAYS start with things like "The next morning..."

Maybe you need to give your characters something to do...a vehicle, if you will, that gets them talking and moving and interacting.

Happy Monday

susan meier

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