header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Brainstorm Archives – Kristen Koster
Feb 012013
 
My Writing Schedule Spreadsheet

My current writing schedule spreadsheet. I clipped my notes off on the right side. Gray boxes equal planned non-writing days and the ones with the dots masking the day mean I know I’ll have multiple interruptions. The numbers counting down in the purple column are working days left until my deadline. Click on the image to enlarge.

This week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “Do you have a writing schedule? How do you get stuff done?”

In many ways, I’m fortunate to be a stay at home mom. My biggest time suck is that I run taxi service for my kids back and forth to school. Thankfully this year they’re back in the same school and I don’t have to do the morning run twice, an hour apart. So this leaves me a huge block of time from about 7:30 am until 2:15 pm as my time. I do have some regular scheduled interruptions, the dog always seems to want to go out and there’s always something cropping up — it happens when you have two kids with different chronic health issues — hey, it happens when you don’t too!

That block of time is what I generally have reserved on my writing schedule during the week. There are times when I also need to work in the afternoons or evenings, but those should be the exception during the week. On weekends, I usually get up before everyone else and use that time on Saturdays for writing. Sundays are usually my free day.

I have a DayRunner planner that I jokingly call “My Brain”. I’m horrible about remembering stuff if I don’t write it down. However, I’ve also discovered that its calendar format isn’t flexible enough for me and I forget to check the book all the time. I noticed that the calendar sheets in it dated from 2007. Oops! I had been keeping my todo list in my weekly goals post on our group’s forum, which made looking ahead difficult. So my day runner is now a glorified checkbook and outdated address book holder.

This year, I decided I wanted to try something different. I know I’ll eventually want to juggle multiple projects so I wanted to try an ACT ASK IF exercise. I took an Excel spreadsheet and ran a column of dates for 2013 and another for week of the year broken up into 13 week sections. Then I have a set of columns for Drafting that includes word count information, a blog schedule, a set of columns for Revising — this quarter is focusing on devising my Revision plan that I talked about last week, and a set of columns for Brainstorming. I’ve also been tracking things like weekly word count, major distractions or scheduled appointments to work around.

I think one of the biggest things that this format let me see that a normal calendar system doesn’t is large chunks of time at once. I can look at the whole quarter and instantly see the blocks of grey which note planned off days and school vacations.

It also lets me see what impacts my daily routines and if I have set up a writing schedule that works for me.I was really worried looking back at the 2nd week, when I had 4 zeros and 2 days with less than 100 words written. This was the result of burnout from being excited and writing 900 words the week before when I hadn’t written that many new words in the previous month or so.

I’m sure this schedule will continue evolving as I determine realistic time frames and settle into my process for revisions. I like how I can look across the day’s line and see what needs to be done, but also as I’m writing up my Weekly Goals post on Sunday, I can easily see what’s coming up in the next week and beyond.

This is working really well in conjunction with Milestone Planner that my accountability group is using so we can see each other’s upcoming deadlines more easily.

YOUR TURN: Do you schedule time for your creative pursuits? Is it working for you?


And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx

Jul 062012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group is talking about where we write. And I’m sure that the others are going to talk more about physical spaces and where they take their laptops and notebooks for field trips.

I’m going to tackle this topic from a slightly different angle. I haven’t found that going out in the world to a coffee shop, bookstore, library or other place really helps to shake things loose in my head, they provide distracting people to watch which are often much more interesting than what I’m writing! Yes, even with headphones. And I didn’t really want to show off messy pictures of my desk or some of the other spots around the house that I’ll settle into to write. Because for me, it’s not so much about the location, as if I have the right tools with me.

For brainstorming and very early exploration work on a project, I take pen and paper and usually end up spread out on the bed, scribbling madly. Once that’s done, I used to take it and try to make sense of it by organizing it into a spreadsheet in Excel or an outline in Word.

After that, I used to use Dropbox to keep the files on my desktop and my laptop synched up. But my process has changed slightly since I inherited my iPad 1 from DH who got the newest one this spring. It’s much lighter and more compact even than my Macbook Air and with Dropbox available on it, that took care of the synching issue.

Screenshot of Scrivener and my desktop writing space.

Scrivener allows me to SEE the structure and rearrange easily if needed. Love the Project target window as well.


That left me with the question of what app I was going to use to do the actual writing. I’d played a bit with Notes on my phone. Ick. But, I’d recently converted to using Scrivener on my desktop and LOVE IT! The only problem is that there isn’t a version for iOS, yet.

Screenshot of IndexCard app for iPad.

Virtual Index Cards: Don’t Leave Home Without Them!

In the meantime, I found a workaround using IndexCard which is an iPad app mostly used for screenwriting and has some of the same fundamental features. It’s holding me until Scrivener completes their app.

But what this really means is that I’m no longer tied to my desktop or laptop. I am much less reluctant to drag my iPad along with me where ever we go — out to eat (IHOP, Red Robin, Applebees, TGIFriday’s), on appointments (various doctor’s offices, the eye doctor’s), etc have all become my writing spaces as well as many more locations around the house. Somehow, the iPad isn’t as isolating to use as my laptop when we sit around the TV in the evenings and I’m not captured by the show. I can also quickly drop in and out of the current “card” and not have to worry about screwing up the pristine copy.

I just have to make sure the synching is correct. You do have to do a bit more manual synching with IndexCard, but the freedom is worth it right now.

So… for me it’s not just WHERE DO I WRITE, but more HOW I WRITE when I’m there that’s important to keeping the words flowing and the creativity bubbling.


YOUR TURN: Does a change of scenery help your creative pursuits? Where are your favorite places to work? What helps you focus and keeps you motivated to finish a project?

And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group thinks about mixing up their writing venues, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Mar 092012
 

Photo of a rabbit munching on grass.

The seemingly innocent-looking plot bunny
(Cuniculus ex machina).

Before we get to plot bunnies, let’s talk about creative insecurities for a minute. Many people worry to the point of paranoia about having their ideas stolen. This notion isn’t specific to any one industry either. Movies, music, writing, game design, car makers, electronics, everyone’s got something they’re afraid someone is going to overhear and take off with it and make their millions with it.

Unfortunately, ideas are cheap. Ideas are the easy part! It’s the execution of those ideas that are the equivalent of the MultiMillions Lotto ticket. Or not.

So… what’s a writer to do?

If you’ve ever heard the term plot bunny, you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, a plot bunny is an innocent looking idea that hops up to you, nibbles at the carrot you’ve been dangling in front of your muse’s cave, and promptly scampers off in completely unpredictable zig-zags only to disappear down some plot hole, dragging you and your work-in-progress (WIP) with it because you refuse to let go of the string tied to the carrot. Way to go!

Today, we’re going to talk about what we can do to harness these wild critters and tamer, more domesticated story ideas and put them to work for us when we need them. Generating ideas, once you start is easy… you play the “What If…” game enough and the ideas start breeding like… well,… bunnies.

How to keep track of story ideas?

You need a way to corral these pesky varmints! Whether you use a notebook, a scrapbook, a WORD document, some other fancy piece of software on your computer or a combination of all of the above really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that your system works for you and that you can periodically retrieve and review your ideas.

Personally, I keep a set of nested folders on my computer for projects I’d like to one day write. Several have simple notes, others are more detailed, complete with pictures and outlines. Others have exploratory writing where a character, a voice, or other aspect captured.

How to decide if an idea goes into the story idea file?

The middle of a brainstorming session is NOT the time to let internal editors out of their box. Leave the censoring until later. Ideas shouldn’t be tossed before they’ve had adequate time to ripen. Some will definitely be “off” when you look at them again. Toss them then. It really doesn’t cost anything in the meantime, and luckily there’s no physical mess or smell to deal with. The ones that only seem a bit stale? Let them percolate a while longer. They’ll either bloom given more time, or prove rotten later.

Yep, I periodically review my idea file (not just when I’m bored or procrastinating) looking to see what’s interesting, might spark other ideas, or just to see which ones need a little air and attention. This is all part of the next section…

How to decide if an idea will make a good story? If it won’t?

Some ideas won’t let go. Like earworms, they’ll keep coming back. Often when you least expect it. These plot bunnies are more like the vorpal rabbit of Monty Python fame. They’re the kind that leap up and grab you by the throat and refuse to let go. These shouldn’t be ignored, but carefully explored and exercised regularly. They can be tamed, although some may take longer than others. If it holds your attention over time, it probably has some merit.

Many people talk about the “Book of your Heart” and “commercial ready” fiction. Only you can decide if an idea contains a story you want to tell.

Take your plot bunnies to the equivalent of a county fair. Talk about them with other writers and readers. If they get excited about a story idea, it probably has some merit.

My biggest problem is identifying story ideas that are with the range of my technical capabilities. I often feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Practice and patience are probably the best tools to use in this situation. I keep telling myself that anyway.

How to choose which story idea to work on?

The one that won’t go away. That’s easy for me to say, because I don’t have any external deadlines yet. I’m free to pick and choose between which characters are vying most loudly for my attention. Shiny New Project Syndrome (SNPS) is a valid concern. This is when anything new looks more interesting than what you SHOULD be working on. Set a limit on how long you’ll allow the new idea out to play. Use it as a reward for progress toward completion on the dreaded old project.

How to take an idea and form it into a plot?

Once I have an idea selected, I play with it for quite some time before I ever try to begin putting together a plot. I have to know the characters first. I have to know what drives them and how they’ll react to certain things. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be surprised along the way too, but I need to know the lay of the land first.

What to do when a story idea hits while working on another WIP?

First, make sure it’s not just SNPS rearing it’s ugly head. If it is, feel free to set aside 5-15 minutes to jot down everything you can think of about it. Remember, at this point the idea is probably not ripe. You can’t judge its merit yet. Let you muse play with it for a bit, then let it sit. Of course, I’ve also taken ideas like this and run with them and I think it shows that they weren’t quite ready to go because there are either gaping holes or I run out of steam after a certain point with them. They’re still in my folder, waiting for more information.

What kinds of ideas are in my story file?

Regency Romance Ideas: Beyond my big three projects (BHT, Revealed, and a new one I just started writing, but have been playing around with since last summer), I have 2 sequel ideas for BHT, a sequel to Revealed, a story about horse breeding and bloodlines in the nobility that’s based on a folktale at the same time, a Regency-set romcom involving mistaken identity and gender role reversals.

Other ideas: contemporaries: chef & foodie/reviewer/blogger, Holiday story with two blizzard-grounded travelers paired up in hotel because the airline assumes she’s male because of her name, then there’s the game developer heroine who finds true love online.

Also, before I go, I’ll apologize for any mixed metaphors or even abandoned ones above. I’ll blame it on the free-ranging wild bunnies and not on distractions or the lateness of the hour.


YOUR TURN: How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you have a wishlist of things you want to work on (feel free to talk about artistic projects, or any other projects around the house, the organization methods are likely similar)?

And if you’d like to read about what the rest of my group suggests for ways to deepen characters, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Sep 302011
 

Writer's Block: Segement of Berlin Wall at the Newseum in D.C.

Segement of Berlin Wall at the Newseum in D.C.

This week my accountability group is blogging about writer’s block and how we deal with it. Last week’s post on what has writing taught us and what we have learned over the years is also part of our How I Write series.

“Is writer’s block real or a myth and how do you deal with it?”

I believe writer’s block is a real phenomenon. Ok, probably not as literal as the wall in the picture above, but it can feel that way some days.

However, I don’t think writer’s block is necessarily a bad thing that you must sit and bang your head against. It’s merely a signal. Your muse, or your well of creativity, hasn’t abandoned you, it’s just undernourished. Ok, so if you don’t subscribe to the whole muse thing, think of it this way…

Your subconscious and your conscious mind are in total agreement here. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. And until you step back, stop banging your head against the problem, nothing’s going to be resolved in a pretty fashion that you’re going to be happy with in the long run.

So, what can we do once we’ve recognized this signal?

  • Read: What should you read? ANYthing and EVERYthing that interests you. Read for fun. Read to soak up the skills of the author. Read aloud if you want. Just luxuriate in the words. Let them wash over you. Even reading something that sucks can inspire you to do better. Reading up on the craft of writing helps me think about how I’m putting the words together and gives new ideas to try.
  • Relax: Take some time for yourself. Pamper yourself. Listen to some music. Take a nap. Reconnect with friends.
  • Play: Do something you enjoy, just for yourself and for the heck of it. Get down on the floor and play with the kids (borrow someone else’s if you need to and they’ll thank you!) Spend some time pursuing a different hobby.
  • Exist: This one is harder to explain. It’s similar to meditation, in that your focus is on something repetitive and preferably wordless. Exercise, playing an instrument, knitting, doing the dishes, gardening, walking, showering or soaking in the tub can all fit the bill. Be yourself as much as you can be, and step beyond that. Sounds corny, but works for many and gets the words flowing.

The main thing that all those things have in common is they are ways to refill your creative well and give your subconscious time to work through the question of “What next?”. Writing or any other creative endeavor can be a drain on us. We really need to take time to find balance (one of the things my accountability group focuses on) to give us the time to step back and plan (even if only subconsciously) instead of always running full tilt at the keyboard.

I find I work best when I can routinely cycle between cramming stuff into my brain and then later dumping stuff back out on the page. Others may not find that works for them, or they need a much shorter and less distinctive cycle to feed their muses.

Another thing you can try is a little different in that it’s not a refilling, but more of a rebooting or flushing action.

  • Write: You can use a journal to dump out all the crap your subconscious is wrestling with and save it for later. Experiment with a new technique. Something new. Something mundane. Writing exercises or writing prompts may help spark your creativity too.

Your Turn: Share how you maintain balance and refill your creative well in the comments below.

And if you’d like to read about what the rest of my group thinks about writer’s block and how they deal with it, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford *
* Emma G. Delaney * Kimberly Farris *

Sep 162011
 
Image of a playing card from Hall & Sons, early 19th century.

The Jack of Hearts. Early 19th c. playing card from Hall & Sons. Notice the face card has a single head and centered eyes compared to modern cards. The backs also would have been plain white.

This week my accountability group is blogging about where we got the idea for our current WIP as a follow up to last week’s more general discussion of Inspiration.

Coming up with ideas is the easy part. Executing them is the part that gives me trouble. Generating ideas is something we can train ourselves to do easily. Identifying the good ones… now that’s the trick!

I’d say in general I start with characters and then brainstorm situations to put them into. Very rarely do I come up with an idea that begins as a conflict and needs characters to play it out. Sometimes they start with the title, but that’s usually most suggestive of the characters. I’ve been known to get ideas from song lyrics, obscure folk tales or playing games of “What if…?” with characters.

Beneath His Touch came about that way. From there I found the characters and explored their situations to find the conflict that would sustain the story and eventually drive them together instead of apart. Revealed or what I still call in my head OTS, short for On The Shelf, also started with a title. One that’s evolved for sure, but we’re talking about how these stories are sparked.

The newest story that I’m working on has a couple of working titles that float through my head. Jack of Hearts and Love, According to Hoyle are the two that get my brain clicking though. Combine those with the saying “Lucky at cards, unlucky at love.”, toss in a game of Whist, and add a dollop of workshop on character development using archetypes and you’ve got a juicy story spark with lots of possibilities.

And what do you know. I just had one of those ‘AHA!’ moments while writing this post. Just like a hand of whist, this story needs 13 chapters — one for each trick. This also just set off a bunch of other what if’s bouncing around in my head. Look out WIP, here I come!

Your Turn: What are you working on and what sparked your initial interest in it? It can be a story or any other creative project you might be working on, but I’m curious to hear about how other creative types work. So go add your thoughts in the comments section!

If you’d like to read about what the rest of my group is working on and where they got their ideas, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford *
* Emma G. Delaney * Kimberly Farris *

Aug 012008
 
A Regency Gentleman

A Regency Gentleman

I’ve been trying to work on a short story at Bria’s instigation. I’ve got a basic plot line and some conflict thrown in. I know what the hero and heroine were like as kids, but now that they’ve grown up, I barely know them any more.

I have a general idea of how they’ve changed since childhood, but I don’t have a sense of who they are. I’ve never considered myself as someone who needed visual models to base a character upon, but this pair isn’t coming out into the light for me. I don’t know if all the concentration on craft this week is scaring them off (or me), or what, but it’s frustrating.

I decided to surf around for a while today looking at some man candy, cause, really, it doesn’t hurt to look right? Anyway, I was struck by how young some of the models looked. Really, I know I’m getting older, but the little boy lost look just doesn’t do it for me. I need some muscles, some touseled hair, and yeah… a five o’clock shadow doesn’t hurt to prove the guy can actually grow some facial hair and likely isn’t jail bait.

So from there, I started looking for Regency portraits and even Hollywood’s interpretations of the Regency Gentleman. If you thought styles and aesthetics have changed rapidly in just the past 50 to 60 years or so, there’s nothing so eye-opening as looking back 200 years. Granted we have far more modern conveniences to rely upon, but the fellow at the top was one of the few that caught my eye. I definitely like my historical romances with a healthy dose of fantasy thrown in.

Maybe I’m just putting off making any decisions because that would mean I’m getting closer to the point where I have to sit down and writ this thing. I probably just need a swift kick in the behind as it can only be 8k max at the most for the anthology call. Since I can’t seem to come up with names for them either, maybe I’ll just type OUR_HERO and OUR_HEROINE again and hope something comes sooner or later. (Yeah, that’s why I still have a Lord SO_N_SO in one of my manuscripts. I’m just scared if I give him a name, he’ll want his story told too! Bria’s already hounding me for, his heroine, Daphne’s story.)

Maybe if I go dig around in the conflicts and the story events it’ll become clearer who these people are for me. Wish me luck!

Mar 302008
 

I have been working on the Flower Queen’s Daughter story. I decided I needed to dig deeper and figure out the heroine’s storyline and what her own journey looks like. So far, I detailed conflicts and beats for the first four scenes. My real issue is with keeping things simple and preventing them from becoming overcomplicated.

Anthea is a bit of a tomboy, filling the role of the son her parents never had. She’s horse-mad and her mother is not pleased. Our heroine promised her father on his deathbed to oversee the family stables and continue his work on the breeding line.

Her mother wishes her daughter settled in a comfortable marriage, not dirty and smelling of horse. She doesn’t know about the promise and tries to forbid Anthea from spending her time in the stable.

While working with the steward, Anthea discovers one of their mares was pregnant when she was sold and this foal turns out to be a key part of the breeding program and must be recovered if her father’s goals are to be achieved.

Her mother is overjoyed by Anthea’s invitation to the Dragon Family’s House Party. Anthea agrees to go, but for much different reasons, she tracked the sale of the pregnant mare to them. However, neither realizes why Dragon Mother extended the invite.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. This week’s plan is to sit down and hammer on the heroine’s storyline some more. The general idea of where I want to take her exists, but I need to weave it into the original hero’s story.

I think my new mantra needs to be K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Everything keeps getting tangled up and I end up chasing down rabbit holes after complications that are in most cases unnecessary. I rarely attempt to write short and don’t think I would be able to do so without problems. I read a couple articles on the topic, but my brain doesn’t understand the difference between dilemma and major conflict.

The ability to estimate word counts is currently beyond me. If someone asks how long a story will be, you got me. Not a clue. If I consider my difficulties in finishing what I start, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

So here’s what I have for the heroine’s story so far:

Flora wants her daughter, Anthea, to be more ladylike because she knows a hoyden won’t land a suitable husband. However, on his deathbed, Anthea promised her father to carry on his breeding program at the family stables.

Anthea and the steward discover Dragon family stole foal when they bought a mare last season. She realizes this foal holds the key to her father’s breeding plan and vows to get it back.

Anthea wants to make her mother happy but can’t seem to do it when her mother asks for her promise not to search out the stolen foal and to think about her future.

She receives invitation to Dragon’s house party and sees it as a way to keep promise to both parents. Little does Anthea realize, she has been invited because the Dragon Mother wants to compromise her into marrying her eldest son.

Mar 252008
 

So, I got an reply email from DH after I sent him to let him know I fixed a couple things on his website:

“Shouldn’t you be writing? ;)”

Doh. Caught procrastinating again. He knows how I get when a puzzle is put in front of me.

To be honest, I have been running a lot of things through my head and discarding a lot of them immediately after. I know one of my problems with working on turning this folktale into a story is not having a clear idea of the characters it’s about. I have the sequence of events that need to happen, but very little idea of who they need to happen to except in the most general of terms. So, that brings me to the idea of prewriting.

Prewriting Activities

Along with the cycle of studying craft, reflecting upon new concepts, and a reading spree to recharge, I also realized stories come faster and less painfully when I sit and think about the characters and their situations. I don’t mean only in terms of plotting or character sketches, but that and more.

I wanted to explore a couple new ways to get the old imagination running beyond the normal ones I seem to rely on: brainstorming and freewriting. Brainstorming is collecting a bunch of ideas without censorship regarding their ability to fit with what you want to write. Not quite how I’ve been doing, but close enough. In my journal entries, I tend to do Freewriting. I sit and write everything coming through my head for a set period of time or until I get past some arbitrary word count.

Both those methods are useful, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper for something to help me regain the sense of urgency – the need to get the story onto the page before the details evaporate.

Pretend and Play

Let your imagination run wild. No rolling around on the floor with the kids and constructing a castle out of couch cushions is necessary, but what would it hurt?

Look, Imagine, Think

Building upon the previous one, take some time to stop and smell the roses. Become more aware of the world and people around you and make up stories using your observations. What causes the mundane to be interesting? How about the person you pass every day but don’t know – what is their story?

Another way to accomplish these last two is by daydreaming. I think this is what those people who appear to be napping are doing when they claim they’re plotting. 😉

Add Sound and Music

Try different styles to match the mood you’re trying to capture. I find instrumental music with distinct rhythms much better to write to than popular songs. I discovered I distract myself by singing along to the lyrics, even though I used to do my homework with the most raucous music possible playing.

Doodle in the Margins

There’s something to be said for scribbling down notes with a pen on paper. For some reason, I always get a better grasp of what I’m trying to do when I write longhand. Somehow, I can sense how the pieces don’t fit together as neatly by writing the words out instead of assuming the neat, little lines of text are where they all belong.

I took a printed copy of this post with me when I went to pick the kids up from school and scribbled all over it. I also realized that block of time is one of my most productive for idea generating and distilling. Provided I don’t have a paperback in my hand. It’s only 15 minutes or so, but what an opportunity to focus while I’m a captive audience to my imagination.

Look at Lists

Lists can be fun to make and to peruse for ideas. After brainstorming and coming up with all those related things, then you can tackle the task of rejecting what doesn’t work for your story. Or, search through various lists for eye-catching entries.

As always, the real trick becomes knowing when to stop and just go write.

So, what do you do when you first get to know your characters and your story?

Mar 122008
 

 

13 Possible Short-Term Problems

 

I brainstormed a bit today on putting together short-term problems that would pull the hero and heroine together yes provide some conflict on why they might not be the best match at first glance. I’ll readily admit that many of these were heavily influenced by romance novels I’ve read in the past. It’s all in the details and the execution, right?

Unfortunately, none of these solves the issues I’m having with my problem stories.

  1. He won her family home in a wager and she’s been abandoned by her parent/guardian.

     

  2. He investigates her family in a matter for the Home Office while she leads a secret life to earn money for her family.

     

  3. He needs a wife/fiancee to keep the matchmakers at bay and she needs a betrothal to keep the fortune hunters at bay.

     

  4. In a case of mistaken identity, she cares for the injured lord who has a hold over her family and ends up liking him instead.

     

  5. In a case of mistaken identity, he infiltrates her gang of smugglers that she’s using for purposes of good, unlike the spies and wreckers he’s been sent to find.

     

  6. He needs a wife to care for his daughter and would like an heir but the widow believes she can’t have children of her own.

     

  7. She needs to redeem her father’s scholarly reputation and he needs her evidence to take down the evil relative who is using her father’s work for evil purposes.

     

  8. She needs to redeem her brother’s good name and he’s investigating her brother’s treasonous behavior.

     

  9. She makes up a betrothed and he appears to fill the role so he can conveniently spy on her family.

     

  10. He suffers a terrible battle wound and only she can stand up to him and bring him out of his depression. She’s available to do so, because her strength and shrewish ways have driven away all suitors.

     

  11. Their families have fought for generations, they’re set up to mend the fences and merge the family lines.

     

  12. Her father is killed in battle and the hero comes back to serve as her guardian.

     

  13. The bad boy stands between her and the noble goal of helping some orphans. He’s bored to tears and sets himself the challenge of seducing the proper miss.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1 Debbie Mumford 2 damozel 3 Darla
4 Jennifer McKenzie 5 Debora 6 Tempest Knight
7 On a Limb with Claudia 8 Paige Tyler 9 Alice Audrey
10 R.G. Alexander 11 Christina 12 pussreboots
13 Tawny Taylor 14 Kat’s Krackerbox 15 Danica/Dream
16 Susan Helene Gottfried 17 Di 18 Gwen Mitchell
19 Maribeth 20 Unhinged 21

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Mar 112008
 

Ok, so I had this great aha! moment and now trying to work with it, I keep running into a brick wall.

I spent a good chunk of time today taking the writing exercises at end of Chapter Five on Conflict in Leigh Michael’s book On Writing Romance. I got a bit closer to figuring out how the conflict might work in Revealed. I think the one with the Duke and Duchess from that story actually works best and I was even able to do a little brainstorming on how to make the Food Critic one work better. However, the one that’s frustrating me is this Flower Queen’s Daughter story.

On one hand, it feels like I’m trying to start the story WAY too early for a romance. On the other hand, it’s just way too hero-centric for a romance. It’s possible I picked a horrible story to try to do this with, but I’m stubborn (if you haven’t figured that out by now). I will make this work.

Brainstorming conflicts that met the criteria Michaels sets forth for workable conflict (related short-term and long-term problems combined with a force that keeps them from walking away in frustration), I came up with the idea that he feels obligated to rescue her or afraid the gypsy will curse him, but perhaps the heroine wasn’t entirely upset by “being kidnapped” in the first place? Maybe she thinks she’s just been invited to stay at their country house for a while? The long-term problems are even fuzzier. Why would these two make the worst match possible on first impression?

It makes so much more sense when I’m looking at this from the outside.