Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Construction Zone – 1. Ideas and basic characters

I’m jumping on the bandwagon of the newest trend to blog about how I construct a book. Nic Marsh and I seem to be on the same page in some regard; we both agree that the actual planning is the most fun. Everything is fresh and new. You don’t have to fight with characters who refuse to go along with your plans. You don’t have to worry about point of view (POV) or how a particular scene is working. In the planning stage, it’s all about the possibilities, and I love it.

I just handed in my third Harlequin M&B Romance and I’m waiting for the verdict, (and yes, it CAN still be rejected, just because I’m pubbed does NOT mean I’m safe) so this is the perfect time to start planning the next work.

I sent my editor 2 proposals for 2 more books this year. I haven’t heard back, but for now we’ll go with the assumption that I’m going to write the US Marshal story first.

Every writer is asked…where do you come up with your ideas? For me, it’s usually a pretty sparse idea. Just a what if. I’ve wanted to write Maggie’s story – Mike’s cousin from Marriage at Circle M – for a while. I had a basic idea of who she was. I know she’s going to be an older heroine, and I know she’s widowed. I know she runs a bed and breakfast in a small town in central Alberta. So then it’s finding the right hero. And I started that by saying a simple “What if?” What if she’s put in a situation with the kind of man she’s most afraid of? And the idea was born.

Once I do that, I cast my characters. Not all people are fans of this technique, but for me I find it anchors an image, an impression. And it’s more than just finding the right PERSON. You have to find the right look. You can have two pictures of the same man or woman, and one will work and one won’t. The casting pictures are a starting point for me only. ALWAYS…and I do mean every single time…my characters take on a life of their own. They have quirks that are all theirs. Body language, the sound of their voice that you hear as you’re writing dialogue. And that is how it should be. To be “true” 100% to your casting pictures or any preconceptions (like an actor in a particular role) runs the risk of creating one-dimensional characters. And you sure don’t want that!

I’ve cast both my characters for this book that I’ve tentatively titled “Falling for the Marshal”. I’ll introduce you to Maggie Gardner, 42, widow and business owner with a talent for making her guests feel special, and Nate Griffith, US Marshal, her latest lodger…

Come back tomorrow for the next step….research!

1 comment:

  1. Donna, do you do all that goal motivation and conflict thing (outer and inner charts as advised by Deb Dixon) or do you just start exploring your characters' situation and see where that takes you/