Friday, April 12, 2013
Friday's How She Does it with Elf Ahearn
We all know there are six elements in writing fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this>
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
So far all of my major characters have been based on family members, but I was one of four daughters, so I struggle with my heroes’ personalities. For A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, I based Hugh Davenport on Gerard Butler. Frankly, I had never heard of Gerard Butler until this woman I used to work with turned me on to him. He has a very interactive fan Web site, and she won a poster contest on it for a flick that came out after 300. Dark, sexy, and with an explosive energy that’s, shall we say, eye catching, he made the perfect model for Hugh.
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?
With Rogue I created an outline and then I never looked at it. Portions of the plot were in my mind, a fire, a horserace, but where those devices would end up in the book was left to chance. Same deal with the characters. We all sloshed around in the plot – sometimes with me leading the way and sometimes with the characters pointing out the direction.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
Endings are usually all I know when I start a book, and that was definitely the case with Rogue. A horserace was what I wanted. As a kid, I was obsessed with the Walter Farley series about the Black Stallion. Those books were littered with horse races and I loved every one of them. When I was in fourth grade, my girlfriend Dorrie Fuchs and I memorized the names of every Kentucky Derby winner – Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Man ‘o War – they were my heroes. Little wonder I struggled writing Hugh – the man has no hooves!
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
Of all the people in the world, Janet, you should know the answer to that question.
All you readers out there who maybe don’t know Janet Lane Waters personally, I can tell you she is an exceptionally generous and wonderful mentor. She gave me piles of reference books on the Regency era, and the only reason my 1817 characters aren’t stepping onto trains or lighting the gas lamps is because of her.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
As I stated above, because of Janet I have a pretty extensive library of Regency reference books, but I also find stuff online and, as a member of The Beau Monde, a chapter of Romance Writers of America that’s dedicated to the Regency, when I’m really stumped, I just ask. Within 24 hours, I’ll have dozens of scholars weighing in with invaluable information.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
I draft, I rewrite, then I edit, then I rewrite again. One thing I can guarantee – I never get it right the first time. This is another area where Janet has been invaluable as a mentor. Bless her heart, she invited me to join her critique group. I showed up with my stubborn ideas of how to write my book, and she gently tried to steer me in the proper direction. Often, I resisted. Then, I invariably ended up doing exactly what she suggested. Now, four years later, when Janet speaks, I try to chase the mule from my mind and take her word for it. A woman with more than 30 books under her belt knows a thing or two.