Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you all have safe and festive celebration!
So, which candy will you be stealing from your children’s haul tonight (or holding back from the neighborhood kids)? I’m partial to the peanut butter cups and anything with coconut. On the other hand, I’ve reached the point in my life where certain candies just aren’t worth it – like those Tootsie Roll Pops. A ball of random-flavored hard candy surrounding a tarry little wad of goo? Nah, the kids can have those.
Here’s a delicious treat for you, if you haven’t already seen it: The first seven chapters of Eloisa James’ When the Duke Returns are available for your preview pleasure! (read: torture, since the book is still a month from release!)
Sooooooo good, it’s scary.
This would be the third installment in my little “How I write a book” series; click the tag below for all of them. It’s my continuing effort to understand myself and have a cogent answer for people when they ask me that dreaded “are you a plotter/pantser/pepper” question.
Warning: Overextended analogies ahead.
At this point in my process, I have characters. I have this constellation of “moments” that I believe I can string a plot around. My next step is to take all these wild ideas I have–like, “Ooh, what if she gets on a ship for the West Indies!” or “Ooh, what if he runs for Parliament!” and let historical reality crush them. Mua ha ha.
No, not really.
For a writer of historical romance–okay, at least for this writer of historical romance–research is a chicken-and-egg thing. Meaning, I eat a lot while I do it.
No, okay, seriously. It usually starts out as, “Here’s the story I want to tell. How can I make it historically plausible?” (Note, I am relatively unconcerned about it being historically probable. It’s more than okay with me if I have my characters doing highly unlikely things–that makes for good story, IMO. I just try to avoid having them do chronologically impossible things.)
So I crack open that egg and start the research, and discover all the defects in that perfect, fluffy adorable little chick of a plot I’d been dreaming about. I have the inevitable moments like these: … Read More »
Sorry to have been scarce for the past week. I sort of went into e-hiding, to focus on writing. The good news is, after several false starts, I finally have a beginning I like for my new book. Which doesn’t mean it’s the beginning that will be in the final draft necessarily, but it means it’s a viable starting place and I’m making good progress. Yay!
Basically, toward the middle of last week, things were not looking good. I was completely frustrated with my circular “progress” and just not having fun writing the story–which is a sure sign something is wrong. I was so distracted, I clean forgot to watch the season finale of Project Runway. Mr. Dare got fed up with my irritable, impossible-to-live-with-ness, he threw me out of the house and forced–forced!–me to go to a nice hotel for the weekend and type my fingers off. So that’s what I did. And bless him, it worked. I came back energized, optimistic, and very clean (I think I took five showers in 2 days–that’s how I do my best thinking, after all, and then all that unlimited hot water and free white-ginger soap…mmm).
How do I reward this man? He really is a hero.… Read More »
So, last week I blogged about how my novel-writing process starts with months of thinking, and that usually the thinking starts with the main characters.
Once I have these two protagonists in my mind, even in very vague, shadowy form, what I start thinking of next are “moments”. I’m not sure why, but this seems to be how I plot a book. I don’t get big story trajectories coming to me in during all those long walks and hot showers, I get (what I’ve taken to calling) “moments”. Little scenes with the potential for great humor, drama, angst, suspense….or heat. 8) Some might call them the book’s turning points.
Anyway, these evolve in different ways. Sometimes I just have a vague idea for a situation, and other times whole swaths of dialog just pop into my mind. But they give me that “ooh, that would be soooo funny/sad/hot” feeling. My gut tells me, I just HAVE to put that scene in the book.
I start to mentally refer to these “moments” by little one- or two-word tags. For Goddess of the Hunt, for example, they might have been things like: orchard, wardrobe, letter, dinners, tears. Right now, for this new book, I’m working with moments like: hay, party, piano, symmetry. The moments are like a constellation of stars, and then the rest of the plot is a line connecting them. By the time I finish the book, that line may change a dozen times–but the stars are pretty permanent.… Read More »
The other day, I was happily reading a romance novel, and my littlest dareling came up and sat beside me. He tried to grab for the book, and I said, “No, sweetie. Mommy’s book.”
“Mommy’s book,” says the dareling.
“Yes,” I say. “Mommy’s book.”
The dareling disappears. Pitter-patter of little feet down the hallway. Back comes the dareling with his own romance novel, plucked from my bookshelf. Steamy stepback and all. He settles up next to me, opens the book (upside-down, of course), leafs through the pages, and says proudly, “MY book.”
This made me start thinking, what will I do when my kids get old enough to read the titles of all these books littering the house, let alone the contents? Am I going to keep my shelves of romance novels at their eye level, and continually field questions such as, “Mommy, what’s a kor-tee-san?” or, “What happened to these people’s clothes?” What will I do when they ask to read my books?
Don’t get me wrong. I want my kids to grow up loving reading and loving books, and I don’t have any problem saying, “You’re not old enough for these yet.” But I wonder…what place should my own books have in my house, once dareling literacy sets in? Displayed proudly on shelves, or hidden in unmarked boxes…?
What do you think?… Read More »
Hey, it’s a new month. I’m starting a new book. And I thought it might be an interesting experiment, this time, to blog about my writing process (such as it is) as I go. I’ll tag them all “How I Write a Book.”
I know many of you who read this blog are writers, and you each have your own process. I certainly don’t mean to suggest anyone should follow mine! It’s messy, as you’ll see, and continually evolving. But there are some people who follow this blog who may be wondering, “Just what it is Tessa’s doing when she should be [returning my phone calls/addressing my Christmas card/making my dinner]?” This is mainly for them. 🙂
Right now, I’m getting ready to start writing this book. Which means, I’m wrapping up the work involved in preparing to write the book. Which brings me to
My Messy Process, Step One: Thinking.
Lots of thinking. Lots and lots of thinking. In the case of this book, my fourth, I’ve been mulling over these characters and their story for at least 8 or 9 months now, since I was in the middle of writing book two. And beyond Spencer and Amelia (the hero and heroine’s names), I currently have three other couples – wait, four – whose stories are spreading roots in my gray matter.
The thinking part of this process is the longest step, obviously. It’s also the one most often mistaken by bystanders for daydreaming, inattention, child neglect, etc. … Read More »
No, not one of those Wall Street banks. I only wish I knew what to do about those. In recent months, I’ve laid off the cable news channels in my house, because they seem to add little to my understanding of current events and much to my general feeling of unease. But this week, that resolution is out the window. It’s all about AC360 right now. And I don’t mean to turn into a political blogger, but right now the uncertain state of our economy is really sapping…not my will to write, exactly, but definitely my excitement about writing. Is anyone else out there feeling the same?
If there’s one thing the pundits agree on, it’s that this whole situation is far from over. Like it or not, I had better just get used to writing through uncertain times. 🙂 So I’m going to focus on keeping my writing bank accounts healthy and robust. You know, refilling that well of words inside.
Reading, of course, is the main way writers do this. And as I blogged last week, I have a whole slew of new historicals calling me to my local bookstore today. Thank heaven for happy endings. But I realize I’ve neglected my non-romance reading of late, and I’m going to finally read a few other books that have been languishing on my shelves. The ones positively screaming at my from the bookcase this morning are Suite Francaise and March – both of which deal with moral ambiguity and … Read More »