We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?
If I think of the elements while I’m writing, I don’t do as well as if I just let the story take form. I start with an idea or characters--who and what, add an inspired setting--where and when and do the basic outline--why. All that good stuff in between is the how. I took a memoir writing class last year taught by a major published author. He said the setting should come first and everything else follows but that doesn’t always work for me.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
Once I was in a museum with my kids. There was an exhibit on orphan trains and I was enthralled reading the stories displayed. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “My name’s Sally. Write about me.” When I turned around, no one was there…no one was even in the vicinity. Before I got home and wrote Sally Murphy, my very first release, I knew what Sally looked like and that she liked wearing blue. Most of my characters come to me in one version of that or another so, if they show up and bug me enough, I’ve got a story.
2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
Sometimes, like with the book I’m writing now, I have the characters first. I wanted to write about a strong female auctioneer and pair her with an equally minded man. I wanted her to have a past that cut deep into her values. I wanted him to be independent and sarcastic. That’s about all I started with until I reread my first book in my contemporary series and knew those two characters had to fit into that format. Going Twice, the third novel in my Packard Family series, should be finished by the end of this summer.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I know I want my two mains to get together—or that’s what I thought until I wrote Viveka’s War. I really had no idea what would happen once the leading man was out of the picture and his brother stepped in. I remember writing and thinking, “What the….! Now what?” But it worked out just fine in the end.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
My 1800’s series is based on an era. My WWII series started because of a specific house style and my contemporary romance started because of one man’s occupation. My favorite books are the ones that I’m inspired to write.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
The internet makes research so easy but I also go to books and I ask people in the know. I have a friend who I go to with horse questions. When I wrote my WWII series, I asked my grandmothers who lived through all that. There’s a scene in Respectable Affair where my characters are on a boat. I know nothing about boats but a friend of mine does so I called him. In my current work, the main character is a trap shooter. One of my friend’s sons is a trap shooter and he helps me with all those questions. I also visit museums and places as needed to help with proper setting.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
I revise as I go and add and subtract what doesn’t work. When I’m all finished, I let the story rest and go back a month or so later and fix what I think needs fixing—mostly that’s POV and, as I’m learning the writing craft better, too much telling.
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Respectable Affair, third in my WWII series, released in May.
Here’s a blurb:
Between Virginia Seidle’s terrible jaunt with men and Nolan Vickers’s upheld honor toward his institutionalized wife, no one in town openly faulted the pair for banding together to raise Nolan’s son, John. When love blossoms, would people be as accepting?
Can Nolan and Virgie put their clouded pasts behind and keep their affair respectable?
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