I’m still working on the idea for Leo’s Story. Remember? This is the book attached to the anthology, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. Leo is the duke’s illegitimate son and this will be the last book in the series and probably the last about Welbourne Manor. I’ve talked about this story before at Risky Regencies when I blogged about Where Do You Get Your Ideas and here in Hooks. I worked on it a little more here in my blog about Heroines.
Those blogs really involved the genesis of a story idea, the places where you begin. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on The Plot, what really happens in the story. But plots rarely come to me fully formed. They need to evolve.
Some people work on plots by filling out charts or scene cards. I write a synopsis. It is something we authors have to do anyway, to sell our story ideas to the editor and to give her something to show others when planning the publication schedule. The synopsis is a brief summary of the book, hopefully showing all the elements that will make it a compelling story.
When I write a synopsis, I start out with a blurb of what the story is about, much like a TV Guide synopsis of a movie. After that I explain in detail who the hero is and what has happened to him up to this point, what his personality is like and what his conflicts are. Then I do the same for the heroine. Or I reverse the order- heroine first, hero second- whatever seems to work for that particular story. Then I might actually say, “The story begins with….” The plot follows.
This is where I flesh out my story idea. I figure out what happens and how the story will end. Not in a scene by scene, detailed way, but in an overall way. The problem is, this is also where I discover the…problems. I start writing and hit a snag…..
In Leo’s Story, the evolution of the story (tortured hero; heroine left at altar) has taken four turns. I don’t want to give the story away, but I do want to show the way stories evolve.
Synopsis 1: I’ve got the background down pat, but the story I’ve come up with lacks complexity. The story problem could be solved by a really good conversation between the hero and heroine. It also sounds like a bunch of other Regency Historicals I’ve read. Time to talk about it to my critique group, Helen and Julie.
(Parenthetical Note: I have two critique groups. The first, with Helen and Julie and Virginia, has been going on since I started writing. I met Julie in a Creative Writing class, and Helen and Virginia were friends I knew through my husband. They are all avid readers and lovers of books, although they may or may not be writing themselves, depending on what else is going on in their lives. The second group, with Lisa Dyson (see her New Voices entry!!) and Darlene Gardner, whose latest Superromance, That Runaway Summer, is out in October. This is my serious-about-a-writing-career group. Both groups are wonderful!)
Synopsis 2: Helen and Julie (Virginia couldn’t come that night) agreed my plot had problems so we brainstormed. What if this? What if that? Finally we come up with a really unique idea, totally different, different than any Regency romance any of us has read. This idea is outrageous! I return home and work on it, but I can’t figure out how to bring it from beginning to middle to end. There’s not enough happening, but, never fear! I’m scheduled to see Critique Group number two.
Synopsis 3: Group 2 thinks the idea is too outrageous. My hero is too weak and too unheroic. I can’t have that! We brainstorm and make the hero stronger. We come up with a new idea. The hero is strong and the story problem is intensified so that it cannot be solved by a conversation.
I’m loving the idea, but I can’t think of enough action to give it an exciting fast pace. I just run out of ideas to flesh out the plot, but I’m going out to lunch with Mary Blayney and Elaine Fox and I’ve brainstormed with them before. Maybe they can help me.
Synopsis 4: I tell Elaine and Mary about Synopses 1, 2, and 3. We discuss the problems in each of them, then Mary and Elaine tell what they like about each of the versions. We start picking elements of each one. We figure out a way to give the story more action. I think I’ve got it this time!
Brainstorming is a fascinating process. Pieces of my friends’ ideas seem to swim around in my brain, not quite right for me, but somehow sparking the idea that does seem to work. It might ultimately be my idea, but it is one I couldn’t come up with on my own.
Today I work on writing Synopsis 4 — I already worked on it last night, which is why this blog is late–It may or may not be the final one. There could be a 5 or a 6. Undoubtedly as I write the book, things also will change.
Because things are always evolving……
What’s evolving in your life? What started as one thing and grew and changed and got better?