So here it is, the latest book - a Regency Romance. I often wonder about the time required for the Hero and Heroine to get together. I feel duty bound to tell the reader why they are where they are in their lives, the reasons that have led them down a particular path. But alas, I was told that if they don't meet in the first chapter the chance of my reader continuing on is slim - and if not by the end of the second chapter the chance of 'said' reader continuing on is next to none.
So I removed over five thousand words last week and have tried to shove them in elsewhere along the way. Hmmm, somehow the flow seems off. In an attempt to seek others advice (again), I sent my first chapter off to one of my Beta Readers, Bernadette, and sat waiting for the verdict. The answer I received was interesting. She asked, why? Why is she where she is and he where he is and what happened to get them.....etc. Yes, finally, evidence. All of those words I so casually ripped from the heart of my story which answered many of the 'why' questions, had my reader guessing. It made her want to read on.
That was not my only struggle last week. I had my first experience where my characters were not doing what I wanted them to do - how dare they!? So I went on my RWA loop to see if this was normal. I am new to this game so naturally when my Hero and Heroine started working against me, I got a little concerned to say the least. My favourite answer was from Nora Snowden, "...kill one of them off and show them who's boss!" Cute Nora, but not a solution. All I was after was an answer to whether or not this was normal - apparently it is. Many of my fellow writers said that often the story they start out writing, is not the story they end with. What is worse, sometimes the Hero turns into a weak-willed-Wally just as another appears on the horizon, riding in to save the day - or book in this instance. When discussing the issue with some non-writing friends, they looked at me as though I had two heads and I got, "Well, you're the one writing the story, surely you can control a couple of fictional characters....?" Can you control your children? HA! No! And these are my children...at the moment, and they don't do as they are told at times.
What I have discovered this week with writing - you just don't know what is going to happen sometimes. Just like life, you can plan as much as you want but often the universe takes over and changes things up. Your characters can have a mind of their own, and sometimes it is like 'herding cats', the idea is novel, but near impossible to accomplish. You just have to let them all go off in separate directions and hope they come together again along the way.
PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of Maggie Devine