Today I’m thrilled to host a friend of mind, bestselling author Renee Bernard. I first met Renee back in 2007 when she gave me an interview for TIME TO WRITE. She gave some great advice for the book and in her blog post today, she gives great advice again, this time on how to create interesting and fun plot lines!
One lucky commenter or questioner will win a free audio copy of A Lady’s Pleasure!
Creating Fresh Plot Lines
Hello, all! I know the smart guest blogger leads right off into telling about her latest and providing juicy hints on her next big release…but when Kelly said we could talk craft, I’m going to admit, I was amped. Then I was nervous. Because let’s face it, I think I could be decades into this journey and still see myself as more of a student than a teacher.
But I wanted to share the latest battle of the page as I like to call them on the off chance that it might help someone else with theirs. There’s a lot of advice out there aimed at character development which is always fun but today, let’s crack at plot lines. Because to be honest, I think it’s where a lot of less experienced writers struggle. That sexy hero comes to them in complete perfection and they can describe him down to his toes…but then he gets plunked into a story line that—well—is lacking.
A good rule of thumb is that if someone can see where it’s going, then you need to change directions. Here’s a fun game to play with a Very Trusted Critique Partner. Ask them to listen to your “pitch” or a brief description of your plot. If at any point they think they know what’s going to happen, they raise their hand. If they’re wrong, you get to keep telling them the story. If they’re right, and if they’re right repeatedly, and if they can see how you’re going to solve that big problem and achieve that HEA before you tell them, then take a deep breath and get ready to work it out with a re-write.
The last thing you want to put your name on is a story that is like the movie we’ve all been to, where in the first ten minutes, you know exactly what’s going to happen, few surprises, etc. (Remember? That movie where when you got up to go to the bathroom, you were really confident that you weren’t going to miss anything because there wasn’t anything to miss?)
This is Romance, we’re talking about. Every reader expects the boy to get the girl, lose the girl and then get the girl. We all have a fairly firm idea about what an HEA looks like and as a result, we can generally see them coming. If you let us!
Try not to let us.
Twist it. Turn it. Get creative. And when in doubt, let your characters point you in the right direction. After all, if you’ve got a villain in the mix, then let them give you some ideas of what a really good villain can do to ruin a hero’s day. Make sure your obstacles are substantial and when possible, as tightly connected to your main characters as you can manage. Turn the plot upside down and shake it. See what falls out and what sticks. Ask your secondary characters how it appears from their vantage point and see if they can’t make it more interesting for you.
(I’m sorry. Is it becoming a little too apparent that I have a lot of people in my head that I *gulp* talk to?)
Don’t be afraid. Readers want you to surprise them. Remember. You aren’t fast food cranking out the same meal every time. Every book is a feast to make us widen our eyes when we say, “Wow! I did NOT see that coming!”
But let’s open it up. Any questions? Seriously. Any. Even if it isn’t about plotting, I’m shamelessly thrilled to answer any and all questions you might have about writing, publishing, how to negotiate with the voices in your head so you can finish a book on time, you name it!