Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Diving into character development December 20, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , ,

After getting myself totally confused yesterday about which of the characters clamouring for my attention to write about first, I did manage to get more focused.

I’m going to write Kate and Adam, a story that will probably end up being submitted to Superromance. She’s a community nurse, the sole health care provider in an isolated Australian township, he’s a journalist assigned to write a story about her work. A quiet country village is the last place on earth he wants to be, and the last thing she wants is a TV crew following her around when she sees her patients. Especially when the TV crew is led by devastatingly gorgeous Adam Kelly, who may just tempt her to drop all her carefully built defences…

This is a story I started ten years ago. This couple really have been waiting a long time for their happy ever after! What stopped me the first time were my usual problems- slow start and overcomplicated external conflict.

My original story was a doozy, I threw in everything, including the kitchen sink (a washing-up scene that ended up with them kissing- might keep that in, actually!). The black moment came because the hero was helicoptered to Sydney after a car accident, had amnesia and couldn’t remember the heroine even though he’d been just about to propose to her, and the wicked other woman jumped in and claimed to be his fiancee. Sooooooooooo wrong! It’s going to be fun starting again from scratch with the same characters but hopefully getting it right this time!

Reading up on hero/heroine archetypes. Though I think they can be a bit one dimensional, it’s a good place to start. My original concept had very little internal conflict, but I’m already getting some good insights into the characters and seeing how to change the external events so they hook right into their internal conflict. Just little tweaks in some cases but making crucial differences.

I realised my hero is a warrior, who because of his wounds needs to find different battles to fight, so he’s feeling lost at the start of the story. Part of his journey will be finding those new battles and a new definition of himself. Just realised that means a key scene (there’s a car accident in the community) should play totally differently to intensify his inner conflict. He was going to be the injured person in the truck who she had to overcome her terror of heights to abseil down to, but it works so much better if someone else is injured and he is forced to stand by feeling useless and frustrated because he can’t do it in her place. This may even be the pivotal event which forces the Black Moment (it was in the original version, but for completely the wrong reasons!).

The heroine is a dedicated nurturer, but has denied a big part of herself in the process, which of course the hero is going to challenge her to find again.

Oh, I love this story! I love the way it’s coming together!

Now I just have to decide if him accidentally trespassing and catching her skinny dipping  in her own private stretch of river is too racy a start to a Superromance…

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7 Responses to “Diving into character development”

  1. sally Says:

    I love the sound of these characters. Sounds like you’ve got a very clear idea of the direction of the story. Hope the writing goes well.
    Sallyx

  2. Jane Holland Says:

    If you’ve already written some of their story before, and are starting again from scratch, my advice would be not to plan too heavily, but have a light sketch for each chapter and follow it without too much reliance. You may find, knowing these characters from a previous draft and having had them in your head for ten years, you may know enough about their characters just to start writing and trust your instincts.

    Of course, everyone is different! If you feel the need to look at character development and conflict scenarios in detail before kicking off, go for it!

    I’m easily bored, it’s one of my major weaknesses during a long writing project, so I tend to plan very light and find things out as I go along – surprise myself! But some other writers plan every page, and know the names of all their characters and their characters’ relatives, and what they’re like, their backgrounds etc.

    I’ve only read one Superromance, it’s not my area at all. Though they do look quite long! Good luck with it, and keep us up to date with your progress.

  3. Jackie Says:

    Great Jane! Sounds really, really good. Nothing the beats the excitement of a story that comes to together really well.
    As to it being racy, have you read the beginning of Karina’s Bliss’s one? That’s pretty racy. 🙂

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Jane, I think I’m a hybrid. If I don’t know a little about the characters or have even a roughly sketched road map, I tend to go off on crazy 10,000 word detours that are fun at the time, but ultimately dead ends. But I can’t plan things too much or if feels like the story is already written.

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Not yet, Jackie. I bought the ebook then didn’t get around to sending it to my PDA. Reading one of the freebie ones at present. Must start Karina’s!

  6. Love love love the idea of your beginning – and I think Supers are open to almost anything at the moment! Or so I’ve heard!

  7. waitingforthecall Says:

    LOL, I’m going to find out, Rachel!


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