Saturday, 15 September 2012

Plotting to Fix Your Romance (the Written Kind)

I might have mentioned I've hit a hump in my current work in progress Banshee ("Where do I go from here?").  I might also have mentioned it's a hump that isn't precisely an irregular occurrence for me.

I've been reflecting on this dastardly humpage issue.  Where did it come from?  How can I climb over it and proceed with the wondrous pouring forth of creativity, casting of narrative seeds and watering of cerebral roses for which I long?

Needing to sprout (image by Bossco)

Despite my stated antipathy to thinking about story structure, I know I need to get to grips with it.  You have to know the rules before you can break them and whilst I might long to be the George RR Martin of the romance writing world, I think I might need a bit of text book guidance.

One planning weakness for me in approaching romance is that there are two protagonists and nine times out of then I know one character much better than the other.  

Stories tend to come with me in a scene... or a 'what if?'...  and nearly always that scene is focused on one key character.  For me that character is in glorious technicolor, 3D and bursting with life.  The other, more often, is not.  

With Banshee I can walk inside the heroine's skin, feel what she's feeling and see what she's seeing.  The hero is a different kettle of fish.  Even when creating pinterest boards, my heroine Tara's clothes and appearance were easy to collate because I knew what she liked.  His were not.

My conclusion is that I need to go back to the drawing board.  

I need all my characters talking to me.  I need to understand the thing which challenges each of them at the deepest levels.  I particularly need to understand that for my hero.

Only then can I create a First Plot Point which will shape the story to come and take me sailing past that 34K mark....

(for the record, I do have a First Plot Point at present - it's just a bit rubbish).


Aimee Duffy said...

Aw Meg, I hope you find it soon. If it helps any, I didn't know my hero, what he wanted, didn't want, what his backstory was, what caused him to be the way he was, until I finished the wip! But, HUGE revisals. Probably should have thought about these things first... x

Afsaneh said...

Have you tried a character sketch for your hero? I know it's basic but it can really help. I also think that it helps to start with an experimental prologue/passage from his POV. You don't have to use it in the actual WIP, but especially if you're writing from the heroine's perspective, it can be useful in understanding him.
Another thing I've done(which is more of game) is to have a little interview with them. I pretend to be the character and answer a few random questions.
Sometimes it's the silliest of things that anchor it in, you know?

Sophie Moss said...

Really, I could just sit and chat about constructing stories with you all day! I love talking about craft. :) Have you considered writing a draft in the first person and giving yourself the freedom to really get to know that character and the others only through her eyes? That's one idea... Other than that, do you know about the "wound" theory in the construct of romance novels? I learned this in a mindblowing workshop my Michael Hague (take this if you ever get a chance.) Basically it explains that the inner journey of a heroine is that she starts in her "identity" (or the mask that she wears to the world to protect her from some past hurt) and her hero/love interest is the one who challenges her to break free from that mask and slowly move into her "essence" (her true self without the fear.) The heroine wears the mask to protect herself. It's terrifying to even think of letting go of it, but it's that dance between identity and essence which drives conversation and conflict in every scene between your hero and heroine. AT THE SAME TIME, the characters are struggling against two competing external goals such as the heroine needs to find something to save someone who is important to her and the hero needs to stop her because if she finds it it'll ruin him. Or whatever... But does that make sense? If not, tweet me and we can chatter about it by applying it to your favorite movies. Isn't plotting FUN? I think so! :) :)