Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE STORY LINE WON’T WORK?

So, what does happen?

I faced that problem recently, upfront and personal. I started working on this novel a year ago. The premise was good, the characters appealed, and the hook was fantastic. But, I couldn’t make the plot work. There was something very wrong. No matter how I twisted the characters, the situation, it all seemed contrived. Nothing I hate worse than to start a book and find a predictable plot or something where it’s obvious the author manipulated the characters to make the story line work.

I could have thrown this story away, but I didn’t junk it, although I thought about it – a lot. I’d set the story in England, in the middle of the 19th century. No real historical characters, which would have presented another problem.

No matter what I thought up, it wouldn’t work. One night in bed, inspiration came. I crawled out of my warm bed and staggered to the computer. (One of the things my husband doesn’t like about my chosen career - I frequently get these revelations late at night – in bed) Why not change the time and the place, I thought? It would solve several of the problems blocking my writing. And it worked beautifully.

However, after I’d rewritten the first four chapters, I discovered another problem. What had kept the hero and heroine apart was no longer valid. Back to the drawing board. After a review of the heroine’s motives, and her goal, what was causing her conflict was clear. Once again I was involved in the story. So I didn’t have to junk this tale.

Why does that matter? It’s just fiction, nobody really gets “thrown away”. But to most authors, the characters become real people. It’s difficult to let them go and you just don’t want to pitch them after you’ve dreamed them up.

In all the years I’ve been writing romances (twenty one to be exact), I’ve only thrown one story away. It simple wouldn’t work. It’s the one hidden deep in my file cabinet, However, who knows? Someday, I may pull it out and have another go. For now, back to my current hero and heroine.

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