So this week I started my next book for Harlequin Romance - a Christmas story that will be in a trilogy with my fab colleagues Fiona Harper and Shirley Jump. Even though I'm a pantser, there's always some prep that goes into starting a new book. You have to know your characters, their problem, their basic motivations and goals. The setting, the timeline. Doesn't mean you have to do a chapter by chapter outline, but you need the basics.
When you're writing a story with other authors, you need more than that too. We're writing about 3 sisters, so there's backstory, timelines, intersecting points, etc. that all need to be ironed out.
But still...I can't speak for Fi or Shirley but I know that things change when I start writing the novel. Oh, the basics might stay the same - who my characters are, their big problems and conflicts, etc. But other things. I've focused a lot of WHY Blake and Hope are the way they are, but on the page I have to think about making sure they are both sympathetic to the reader - why should they root for this person? I heard Liz Fielding say something the other day - that the heroine, despite her conflicts, should be someone the reader would want to be friends with. I struggle with that a bit, especially as my heroine tends to distance herself from getting personally involved with people.
And then the other thing that changes? Christmas. I want this book to fairly DRIP holiday spirit. Up to now, I've focused so much on the whys of the story but now, as I've started writing, I'm looking for ways to make the Christmas season an integral part of the plot - so that it's not just a romance that happens to be set at Christmas but a Christmas Romance.
I wanna grab a lot of heartstrings, and give my readers romantic, swoony sighs.
As I was writing today I came up with another surprise that just makes me smile. My heroine doesn't stand a chance. I love it, and I think it's going to be big fun - as big as Santa's sack of toys.
Now, I think I'll have to break out the Christmas playlist - what do you think?