Monday, September 24, 2007
If you're anything like me, the first 3 chapters are a breeze: all brand-spanking new, exciting, the characters just bursting to tell their story with loads of pizazz and dazzling conversation and building attraction.
Then it hits.
How do you keep the pages turning when the initial buzz is starting to wear off?
First up, work out what you want to achieve from the next 3 chapters or so.
The tension must build.
There must be a turning point to galvanise the characters into action.
The stakes are upped.
The conflicts developed.
This is what Jenny Crusie refers to as ACT TWO in her Basic Linear Four Act Plot, where everything BUILDS.
We want to throw our characters off course a tad, get them thinking beyond the initial attraction, throw them a few minor curve balls but nothing to drastic yet. Plenty of time for that later!
In COURTING CUPID, there are several major revelations in the story, revelations that will bring Blane and Camryn to absolute, seemingly unsolvable conflict. He wants marriage and kids, she doesn't, she craves the excitement of city life, he craves a sea change.
Layered into these big conflicts are clues, hints given that build towards the revelations that will drive them apart.
So when you hit chapter four and your enthusiasm flags as it inevitably does, concentrate on building.
The tension, the stakes, and the wordcount will follow!
(For a full explanation of Jenny Crusie's Four Act Plot Diagram, visit her website and check out the notes under her Aussie conference.)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Have you ever been so swept away by a book you can see the setting in your mind? Smell the frangipanis on an island? Feel the sting of dust in a desert? Hear the vibrant voices of gondoliers?
By citing those three examples, I bet you got an instant image of a setting.
Words are powerful tools and when we use them to craft a setting we can evoke feelings, memories, sympathy, empathy…you get the picture!
I’m sure some of the attraction of sheikh stories is the setting: sweeping desert sands, lush, verdant oasis, stone palaces standing the test of time…
And royal stories: opulent palaces, marble interiors, immaculate grounds…
The beauty of being a writer is being able to create a setting to compliment your plot, to create a world the reader would love to live in, whether fictitious or otherwise.
For me, I love setting my books in Melbourne, the city I live in. It’s a hip, cosmopolitan city with a vibe all its own and I deliberately choose cultural icon areas to highlight the city’s appeal.
From Acland Street, St. Kilda (FOUND: HIS FAMILY), home of the best cakes and pastries on the planet, to Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (BIG-SHOT BACHELOR), boho central, from Lygon St, Carlton (PRINCESS AUSTRALIA) Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’ to the thrill of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington (INHERITED: BABY), I hope to bring small pieces of this vibrant city alive.
For that very reason, I’ve set COURTING CUPID in Melbourne too, in the newest trendy area, New Quay at the Docklands.
I want my readers to get immersed in the café culture there, to feel the sea breeze on their faces as they sip a latte, to make their mouths water with the delicious food served at the many restaurants, to sit back in a cosy corner of a bar and admire the pretty night skyline.
And I briefly move the book to Southbank, another trendy spot on the banks of the Yarra River, where Blane has a penthouse on the 88th floor of the new Eureka Towers in Southbank (see pic above!) It's brand spanking new, ultra modern and the place to live!
Are you getting a picture?
If so, I’m doing my job.
So get creative. Search the Net for pictures to stimulate your imagination, whether it be of a country, a house, a garden, a room.
Use descriptions, adjectives, make the setting you choose leap off the page.
Make it the type of place any reader would want to be.
What brings a setting alive for you?
(To get a feel for some of the cultural areas of Melbourne I mentioned above, click on the title links, which will take you directly to my website pages for those books, where you'll find more pictures depicting the areas in the 'under the covers' sections.)
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
What do you find the essential ingredient for a fab heroine?
Friday, September 14, 2007
For COURTING CUPID, I had a fairly good idea of the type of hero I wanted. He had to be suave and gorgeous, of course, but he needed to be a little rough around the edges (eg. the stubble) which is an essential part of the story.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
would be nice if my collage could add the odd thousands words or so to my current WIP!
So, I have my characters and my plot (divorced city girl heroine and workaholic financier hero looking for a seachange), and in order to bring the story alive for me I decided to collage it, which involved looking for specific pictures to capture the essence of both the characters and the story.
The city of Melbourne, the cappucino, the wine, the chocolate and the cafe all belong to Camryn, while the pick-up truck, the hammock, the sneakers and the bed with the killer ocean view are all Blane.
What do you think? Does it evoke the mood of the book from the brief description I've given?
This is my 4th attempt at collaging and I tend to like matching pictures to the story though I find an odd picture leaping out at me as I search and, lo and behold, that picture often finds its way into the story. Collaging doesn't have to be done this way though, and can involve sitting down, selecting random pictures, pasting them together and creating a story from there!
For a full run down on collaging, check out the interview on my website with Barbara Hannay, who conducted a workshop on this topic at a RWAus. conference. There's also loads of fab collaging info on Jenny Crusie's website (who likes to collage on computer too. Check under her notes for the Aussie conference.)So get cutting and pasting. It's loads of fun!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
If the name doesn't fit I struggle with 'seeing' that person as real.
I tend to go for unusual names for my heroines on the whole: Amber in THE WEDDING CONTRACT, Fleur in CONTRACT TO MARRY, Keely in IMPOSSIBLY PREGNANT, Carissa in WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED, Maya in INHERITED: BABY, Ariel in BIG-SHOT BACHELOR, Tahnee in TWO-WEEK MISTRESS. All very different names from the norm and I intended them that way because each of those heroines are unique and strong-willed and very individual in their own way.
In contrast, I tend to go with more traditional names for my heroes and once again that's deliberate, as I see my heroes as a lovely foil as well as a great match for my heroines. Some of my heroes have included Matt, Steve, Dylan, Darcy and Lachlan.
Not to take anything away from those heroes, who I like to think of as divine in their own right, for other heroes I've gone with slightly less traditional names because the characters warranted it: Brody (brooding ex cop), Riley (older brother comforting his dead brother's fiancee), Bo (Bogart-reclusive childrens' author), Cooper (go get 'em property developer)
Are you seeing a theme here?
The name fits the character and in turn, affects the names of their family and friends, depending on their motivations and upbringing.
So what's in a name? Plenty!
On a practical note, here's a fabulous site to get you started: NAMES
And if you're like me and start to forget names you've used and are at the risk of repeating them, I've made a file of index cards, where I write down first and surnames I've used, secondary characters and names I like but have yet to use. Took a bit of time at the start but worth it to avoid repetition. If I was more computer literate I'd probably put the whole lot on Excel? Maybe one day...
In COURTING CUPID, my heroine's name is Camryn. (I chose this because she's very strong-willed and I liked the thought of giving her a feminine form of a male name, which implies strength.)
My hero is Blane, a tad unusual perhaps, but it just popped out at me when looking through my index cards.
As for naming the cafe she runs, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who gave me ideas. They were fabulous! For now, I've chosen Cafe Niche (which fits in with Camryn's conflict very nicely.) My mum actually came up with that one after looking at the pics.
I say 'for now' because it's one of those things I'm still not 100% happy about and I'm hoping the perfect name will leap out at me while I write the book.
Are names important to you?