Sunday, September 17, 2006

Book With Trish - Pt 3.

We've spent a few days living with our hero and heroine now, filling in the character sheets that tell us all the little things we need to know that reflect their personalities and the experiences they've had before the book begins. And we've started to think about the events in their pasts that we might use as part of our conflict when the book begins... And it's fitting I think that we have worked on these two people first, because as I've said, although we will need a plot to carry the story forwards, it is the characters that the story revolves around. A plot is merely a device to get them together on the page, it's up to them and their growing relationship through all it's varying twists and turns, to keep the reader turning each page...

I now have Connor and Shannon pretty firm in my mind - with the help of the pics I collected I have varying expressions and suggestions for scenes and I know what has happened before my book starts. And it might not work for everyone to take this much time getting to know their hero and heroine before they begin, but I should maybe explain at this point that I am not a plotter when it comes to the book, so all this prior thinking and nailing down of the details, helps me to work more freely when I begin. From the pics, I may have scene suggestions, but as to what they say and do when they get there... Well that's all pretty fluid for me until I start writing. For some people, and this may indeed be you, it's easier to do a brief outline of what scene follows what and a brief plan of what happens, but for me I find this kinda ruins the little moments of surprise, which means when I get to that tough place every writer hits at some point in a book I find it tougher to keep my muse sparked. Yes, I know I'm heading towards a happily ever after in the end but by nailing everything down and 'stifling' my characters voices I can quite often miss something that could have really added to the oomph of the story. And I love it when they say or do something I hadn't thought they would. Alright, so I might not always use it, but I might use parts of it, or have it change my direction somewhat, and by remaining fluid rather than fixed, it's easier to take on the input of my cp's or my editor along the way. By being solidly fixed and blinkered I find that when revisions come I fight them, and all revisions are meant for the good of the story so fighting them is b-a-d... I've learnt that one the hard way...

But if plotting everything out chapter by chapter works best for you then do it! Just allow a little room for maneuver, okay???

Now, part of my characters conflict is the fact they knew each other before. It means I have a certain amount of familiarity in place. What I've got to do now is get them onto the page together to see how that familiarity plays out along with the little secret weapon I have up my sleeve that may or may not make it past my editor over lunch this week...

So, if you've been following the discussions we've been having in the comments after each blog, you'll know that Shannon announced to me that she wanted to be less of a kindergarten teacher and more of a businesswoman... This, I think stems from the fact she knows this book is a Modx. A more business orientated career just fits better in my mind for this line, and I want to keep more of the urban, city, careers type feel to it in the background. This is one thing I've been finding I have to really focus on when I switch back and forth from a Romance to a Modx. A lot of my Romances are set in villages, or in commuter belt rural areas, the last one was even on a tiny island - but with Modx that *feel* won't work. So I have to think City, office type environments, lots more people around, characters balancing careers with the usual problems of meeting the right guy/gal in amongst that sea of faces... Urban rather than rural... Yes, the gals I know that write for Modx and Romance (waves to Nic and Ally) have also done Romances set in the city and in offices and with that urban 'feel' but my voice so far in that particular line, has been much more small town cozy in feel. So, for me, I have to make a mental 'switch'...

So do remember when you're thinking about the location you are setting your story in, of the kinds of places that the line you're aiming at tends to set it's stories in... And then decide if that location is going to be used as merely the backdrop, or as a way of highlighting part of your conflict...

For me and this Modx I'm plotting, I'm going to use a combination of the two. By placing both my characters in the same working environment, I am forcing them together. Once my heroine approaches my hero to set up her business linked with my hero's, they will be under the one roof and this then acts as a 'tool' to bring them together, and to then allow their other conflicts to come to the forefront of the story. You can do this many ways - by placing them in a workplace together, in the same apartment block, living next door to each other, being forced to live in the same house... there are plenty of ways of doing it. And it's a device, pure and simple, I'll hold my hand up and admit to that. After all, there has to be *something* to get them together on the page, right? A trigger if you like. Using enforced proximity is one trigger.

For my setting I'm placing them in Galway. It's a city, third largest in Ireland if my memory serves me right, it has a great collection of small streets, open air cafes with a real European feel to them, a large square in the centre where my characters could stroll or eat lunch... but mostly I see the majority of my scenes in and around the gym and in their apartments...

Remember, where you place your story can be very important, but remember also that it is only a backdrop to the main story - it can add a lot, but it isn't the main focus... As I mentioned in some of The Blank Page series, the location, the setting, is like the sets of a stage play. What's going on at the front of the stage with your characters is what's most important. And with that in mind, think also of the amount of effort, and how distracting it can be for the audience, if that backdrop is changed again and again and again and again and... are you distracted yet??? Keep it simple. Keep the focus on the hero and heroine and their growing relationship.

I'm using three basic backdrops. Yes. Three. Their apartments, the gym and Galway City. Alright, if you're going to be picky that's four... And the last one does leave me some scope if I need it. But I only have 60k to work with and I need the majority of that for my two leading players, right? Plus I can use those settings to highlight some of the conflicts I discovered as I filled in their character sheets - Shannon's apartment can be homey, lived in, a sure sign that she has settled where she is, has built a home while she puts down more roots in the City in the form of her new business venture - whereas Connor's place will look like a hotel room, basic, functional, a reflection of the fact that he isn't settled, that he rolls along and doesn't believe he's ready to put down roots... And then the Gym forces them together to confront and work through those conflicts and a few others along the way... Make sense?

Which means that todays exercise is on setting:

1/ Choose your settings and if possible gather some pics that you can use as samples
2/ Look at how you can use your setting to add to the story or bring forward conflicts
3/ List the possible scenes you might use in those settings

Again all we're doing is nailing down the things we need to know, the ingredients of you like.. what we create with those ingredients still remains fluid - what the characters may do and say when we place them there may change the direction we take as the story progresses...

So I've left you with some pics of the places I have in mind. I needed an apartment with a couple of sofas to go with the characters on sofas pics I have... I needed a nice up market Gym for Connor to own, and I needed an overall backdrop that I can play with as I go along. Where are you putting your guys then???

11 comments:

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

I'm sticking locally with mine. Matt has a gorgeous country house on Rutland/Lincolnshire border (I have pics of the outside, inside and a floorplan of the layout courtesy of Savills.co.uk). Kate is currently renting a studio apartment until she's settled. And she and Matt work together at the small local hospital.
The location is only going to be used as the backdrop but I'm hoping to show one of the local landmarks as Kate begins to explore the area. Ooh, I've got to go - another idea for a scene has come to me... thanks Trish!

Sue :-)

PS I love the look of Galway.

Anonymous said...

I need a radio station as one of my settings but I'm not having muchluck finding the info I need.

Janet

Jude said...

I'm going to try and set this book in Glasgow. I don't know the city quite as well as I know Edinburgh - but heck this is a seat of the pants job. I also want to set some of it in St Andrews. So so far locations in the mists in my head are - the heroine's newly established shop in Glasgow city centre, her trendy waterside flat and some St Andrews places including a zazzy celeb golf hotel and the beach. Erm - this book is getting strange and it hasn't even started. LOL.
PS Galway rocks. I def want to read this one Trish.

Trish said...

Wow! All your settings sound great!

Sue, glad to here these scenes are jumping into your head...

Janet - My brother works in radion stations as a DJ and co-ordinator and has even run a community radio station... So if you e-mail me a set of questions I'll get him to answer them for you...

And Jude! I love Scottish locations. Glasgow would be fantastic! Glad you liked Galway - here's hoping I can give enough of it's flavour to carry it through ;)

I'm going to do the next workshop Monday night when I get back from a friend's house... So I'll see you all then.. HAPPY CREATING!

Donna Alward said...

My setting is Fredericton/Oromocto, New Brunswick. It's close to the local army base, because my hero's a military one. And he's renting, and his decor is really sparse and functional. My heroine, on the other hand, is like yours Trish - settled, comfortable, with a house that's very homey for herself and her daughter. :-)

Nicola Marsh said...

Mine is set in Melbourne at the start, then in the fictional sheikh-dom, complete with rich colours, textures and tastes.
Loads of scope for fantasy stuff!

I did some character sketching stuff last night which I haven't done in ages so thanks Trish, this is great!

Lis said...

Right now its set mainly in the LA - Malibu region. Harley's condo (might be a loft); the beach; rodeo drive and his place

liz fenwick said...

Cornwall. Got back last night from a quick weekend trip. The setting or in particular the house is almost a character itself tying to the two stories together - one current and the other set back about 1800 - haven't quite pinned the period down. I took lots of photos but unfortunately none of the house itself this weekend. However i have driven past it may times and in the end it will be a compliation of several historic Cornish houses:)

Carol Hutchens said...

Trish,
Part 3 notes are great. I'm using eastern US...
The jobs fit, and my characters seem to like the place...he's coming home, she wants to make it home.
Sandra Bullock would not give up her job!!! LOL. Tried other characters, nothing.
So...I'm back to Sandra B. and John S.
Love this workshop,
Carol

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks Trish!

Janet

JENNA said...

I had fun with this one. I found my private island...and was still able to set the story in a place I am familiar with. Not that I've been to Emerald Island...but I have been to Lake Shastina. So I am good to go. Lesson 3. CHECK!