I’m starting to work on a new romance (my third). I’ve immersed myself in the people and world of Mill Pond so much, I think about them while I’m working on other things. That’s why three Mill Pond short stories have snuck onto my website. In my head, the setting has become as charming as the characters who people it. I want to visit Tessa’s bakery, Harley’s vineyards, and stop at the specialty farms that dot the area. So I love Mill Pond, but I want the new novel to be a little different than the first two. I loved writing about the McGregor brothers, but I want a different set up this time. Instead of boy meets girl, there’s attraction, there are complications, until they finally get together, I wanted to change it up a little. And that’s when the trouble began.
I can picture the entire story in my head. I have a hazy vision of its twists and turns, but when I sat down to write even brief plot points, I couldn’t figure out how to let the reader know or suspect where the story was going. And that’s important. Most writers spell out the book’s big question in the first paragraph anymore, almost always on the first page, but occasionally, not until the end of the first chapter. This story didn’t fall into place that neatly. My protagonist thinks she’s in love with the wrong man. She has no interest in the right man, and he’s not interested in her. He’s interested in the unattainable, and it’s going to take them the entire book to figure it all out. Sounds like fun, right? But how to write the first chapter?
I did character wheels–more complicated than I’ve ever done. I learned new things about my characters, and that will add depth as I plod along (and when I reach the middle of a book, it IS plodding). But it didn’t fix my first chapter. So I did what I always do. I started writing and let my characters take the lead. They weren’t much smarter than I am. The first attempt was crap. It had enough little nuggets, though, to make me think of a short scene I could add. And that scene helped me think of another clue I give the readers. It took three days of writing words I knew didn’t work before I finally had a glimmer of what to do. On the last day, I left my writing room, and my husband looked at me and smiled. “You’re happy with it now,” he said. And I was.
I have nine plot points I pounded out that will head me generally in the right direction. I’m going to write two or three more chapters, let my characters fuss and get to know each other, let me listen and watch them, and then I’ll write more plot points. They keep me afloat when my brain reaches a deadend. And then I should be ready to sit down and dig in. These characters are more opinionated than most I create. Who knows what trouble they’re going to give me? I might get frustated writing this book, but I bet I don’t get bored:)