Reader-to-Writer: Changing my perspective #2 – Writing to a formula

I have a formula. It’s called – the Pied Piper formula: write one sentence and the rest will follow.  I wanted to stop the post there, but it’s not actually why I wrote this post. It does however explain how I got to my ending.

I was worried about my book not following the normal formula for Urban Fantasy as I see it: there’s a crime to solve, a baddie to uncover, a love interest to fall in love with. Yeah, I guess I have some of those things going on, but I don’t have what I feel is a normal ending. I guess it could be seen as a cliffhanger. But to me, it’s where I felt the book needed to end. And the reason I introduce a new element? I don’t want readers to be annoyed if the tone of the book is adjusted a little in future books; I want them to know that there is something bigger at play and that I’ve thought about my world from book 1.  Some people don’t like being surprised by an element they didn’t sign up for.

So I got there in the end, and so far, no beta readers have wanted to slap me silly with my own ending.  And now I’m thinking about a bunch of readers sitting around a room talking. “Did you beta?” “No, I came second.”

It’s like helping my daughter with a maths problem. Let’s say it has something to do with ducks. In my head I’m saying the answer, “Seven.” My eyes are also trying to communicate the word, seven, telepathically and my hands are saying, “Let’s get there by working it out this way.” *starts depicting ducks as straight, neat lines* She’s doodling on her note pad, ignoring me while I keep forcing my ‘working out’ process down her throat and we get nowhere. So I walk away. And when I come back, she’s drawn  and coloured in 49 little ducks in haphazard groups. It’s taken her longer to get there, but when she does she has a smile on her face and incidentally, so do they.

So although I would love to have all my ducks in a row, I would pick those little smiling blobs of craziness over mine any day.

 

Reader-to-Writer: Changing my Perspective #1- Love Triangle’s

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Firstly I’m going to say – this blog has no mind-control widgets or lecturing programs installed.

*disables mind-control widgets and lecturing programs*

Okay, now this blog has no mind-control widgets or lecturing programs installed. This is purely my own personal account on how I’ve changed my perspective on books and authors, now that I have completed the 2nd draft of my own book.

If I look at my experience with the literary world, in terms of hours invested, I definitely have more hours under my belt as a reader than a writer. Over this time I have reviewed a lot of books, uncovered some buzz words, and stumbled upon loads of bugbears. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on a book. Of course they are. But even before writing I found myself defending my opinions for fear of offending a fellow reviewer. So its tough for me to voice my opinion outside of my happy home ( at home, I let it rip- my opinions that is – just to be clear). But here goes. I have learned a considerable amount of the last eighteen months. Mostly, to be less critical of myself.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be addressing the big ones as I see it. This week, over 2 posts I will be looking at the ones that can determine whether a person continues or drops a series. Love Triangles ( Love V’s) and Cliffhangers.

Love Triangles ( Love V’s)

Every time a love triangle is mentioned I wonder, “If this is a love triangle, it’s possible that these two love interests will dump the protagonist and pursue each other.” When you think about the shape of the triangle, it’s possible right?  And by law of averages it’s going to happen – a triangle is a shape, it has something to do with maths, and you learn maths at school so maths has to be relevant…..So anyway, to me it’s really a love V.

Book 1 – I don’t want to give too much away here, but I can say that there is somebody I wanted to introduce in book 1. It wasn’t the right time for him; for me, as his almighty creator, he didn’t have a place. I’m not a planner. I’m a ‘lets start writing and see where this character will take me’ person. I have an idea in my head of the general storyline and events, but ultimately I follow my creations around. Its very un-creator like.

So lets call him Draven – a nice strong name to stand out. Not his real name, but you’ll understand why in a minute. The poor bloke can’t catch a break.

I’ve started planning book 2. I felt like I couldn’t finish book 1 until I had an idea of where book 2 was going, and the world as a series. And I’ve started thinking about Draven and his place.

My first thought was thispeople are going to worry this is the start of a love triangle, throw the book at the wall and run around the house naked in anger.

My second thought should bewow, that’s really cool that my book would elicit such an emotional response.

But, rightly or wrongly, it was actually – How can I downplay Draven and make him as unappealing as possible as a love interest for Mae?

I’ve read a few series where a really interesting secondary character is introduced in book 2 and I would look at this man/woman and say, “Um, where were you in book 1? You’re awesome! You make book 1 man/woman  look like bread when you’re toast dripping in melting butter and honey.”

So here’s what was happening to Draven in my head:

  1. I’m going to make him less attractive to the opposite sex
  2. I’m going to make him really annoying
  3. I’m going to give him a girlfriend
  4. I’m going to kill him off

And now I’m thinking – hmm this is seeming really contrived and not a natural process at all. It’s a word I’ve used myself when reviewing – especially with love triangles.

So what do I do?

I believe I have to write him as I wrote my characters in book 1. I introduce him, get a feel for his place, and see where he leads me. If he doesn’t feel right then I go back and try again.  I have to be more open to his existence, his impact on the series. I have to trust Mae and  I have to trust myself.  If I consciously adhere to my own internal critic and downplay him, which Draven is the natural one and which one is contrived?

I still can’t tell you whether there will be any love for Draven; he hasn’t spoken to me yet. But when he does I know we will work it out together to the point where I’m allowed to sleep at night, happy that my little creation feels at home with the family I have built.

Sometimes I prefer bread to toast dripping in melting butter and honey. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

 

My next post will be on Cliffhangers – bring a rope 🙂