More Modern Heat type questions to answer while the competition is running and we wait to see if anyone reads my post about dialogue when it appears on IHeart Presents ;)
Melissa asked: How do you keep the light, fun, flirty tone throughout the whole book? I've done it once and not sure how I can recreate it.
And then Aideen said: ... is the conflict in Modern Heat really a lighter version of the conflict we see in Modern? Or is it just dealt with differently because of the editorial guidelines? Does that make sense to you? If a person has to think of ways to draw out a sustaining conflict for a whole book, does that tell you something?
Now. You may well be reading those questions and thinking HUH? They're not the same Trish - get off the cough medicine! But work with me here. There is usually method to my madness. Mostly. More or less. Okay then - it makes perfect sense TO ME.
Cos for me the one kinda comes from the other. In Janet's question in the last post we touched briefly on how a heavy backstory/conflict can weigh down our story with angst. Simplify the conflict and you may think it means it's harder to maintain throughout the story but I'd disagree. To prove my point I had a think back to the conflicts I've used in Modern Extra's/Modern Heat so far. Pre-present editorial guidelines I had Firefighter whose job and firefighting family were his life versus Firefighters daughter who refuses to get involved with a firefighter who might die like her father did... then we had lacking in confidence stay-at-home overweight self-help book writer versus uber confident never-stays-home gorgeous Middle East Body guard... So in the first one I had the heroine fall for the kind of guy she swore she would never get involved with and the hero fall for the one woman who might cost him everything else he held dear - simple but effective I hope you'll agree. In the second I had polar opposites and yes, it was pretty much as simple as that when it came down to it.
The fun and games then came in showing they couldn't fight the attraction between them regardless of the reasons they already had for not getting involved. Sometimes the wit came from things they said to fend each other off. Sometimes it came from sarcasm (but that was probably mostly ME). Sometimes it was because their 'other half' had done or said something to remind them of why getting involved in the first place was a bad idea... But every single time it was action and reaction - bouncing back and forth from each other in the same way the sparks are flying. Does that make sense?
Break it down a little more in a Modern Heat context. 50k odds of a word count. Now, how many K is the average sex scene content for me... Lemme just go look up the stats on that from a couple of my last ones (the current editorial ones)... *snigger* okay 7600 and *ROFL* 12K!!! I KNEW Adam had made Gabe look like a puddy cat! But I digress...
Let's just say 10k is sex. That leaves 40k. And that my friends is not a whole heap of room. Trust me. 4500 for my first chapter set up and 1400 of an epilogue and that left me 32 odd k for the whole rest of the story in my last one (less actually cos it was the one with the higher sex word count). Consider how much of that is dialogue from a dialogue heavy author like moi and are we seeing where we might have a little bit of a problem fitting in anything too heavy or convoluted conflict wise??? Mmm-Hmmm... And that book had a PLOT too!!!
So what did I do? Let's break it down into the basics. I presented my heroine with the kind of guy she would never in a bazillion years have seen herself getting involved with. I gave a woman who believed in love and happily ever after even though she'd been bruised a coupla times the kind of guy who was too sexy to deny but who was never, ever gonna be a happily ever after and made no bones about that fact. There was a small misunderstanding at the beginning that she allowed to continue for safety sake. He drove her crazy, she fought back. He discovered the truth and pursued her, she discovered that when it came to sexual attraction and a potent male mother nature was on her game and the imperative to mate with the strongest of the species was tough to fight... (by now understandably I WANT HIM)... getting horizontal is of course amazing and has an emotional impact (much to my alpha male's surprise and of course he fights it) and suddenly perceptions and convictions CHANGE. The last part of the story then becomes how they overcome their initial perceptions of each other (showing growth) and move forwards into a future that goes beyond the last page (often with compromises on both sides). TA-DA!
Now this book DID have back story. It was fairly heavy emotionally. It also had a father with Alzheimer's... which technically was one step towards a body count but it wasn't over done on
the page. You'll hear TV show fans talk about what happened in 'Offscreensville' and with this book there was plenty in Offscreensville that was touched on on the page and hinted at but never explained in detail. You have a clever, smart, savvy reader with an imagination of their own (they picked up your book so they're obviously beautiful and have excellent taste too!!!) and they're more than capable of filling in any blanks on their own should they feel the need to. The crux of the conflict of this book was simple. End of.
Sustaining it? Ahhhh.... now that's a whole other blog....
More questions answered when I have more words on the page. Keep em coming ;)