. We all know there are six elements of 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?
My order is a little all over the place, but like you, the how/why or the plot, comes from the first four. Typically my process begins with the Where, mainly because I know that all of my books will have a connection to Newfoundland. The when is also a bit of given since I write contemporary romance. It’s normally always the present for me. The who and what usually develop at the same time. Now that I think about it, I think the How and Why also develop simultaneously. I’ve never thought of my storytelling process in this way, so this is a fun question.
2. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
My characters first appear when I start my first draft. Someone will enter the room and I start to think about who they are. What’s their voice? What do they look like? What are they feeling at this moment? What’s one thing about their character that would never change? What’s something about their character that must change? These are all questions that are floating around in my subconscious as I write them. I start to figure out my characters as I poke around inside their heads. What are their thoughts? How do they talk to people? These things help me gain an understanding of them. I used to pre-build characters a long time ago. But then I realized that I was trying to fit them into stories that they had no business being in. Now I let the story dictate the character. It’s always interesting for me to see how they react to the situations I put them in.
A good example of how my characters can develop in surprising ways in the character of Asher Corbin. He first appeared in my novel Against Her Rules. In my head, and in my heroine’s head, he was no good. I had an idea of who he was and all the reasons why we’d hate him. And then he showed up in the book and I found myself liking him. So much so that he’s been in every book so far. Each time we see him changing, becoming a better man. So that by the time he got his own novel (21st Century Rake) he deserved to find his happily ever after.
3. Do your characters come before the plot?
I think they develop together. As a pantser (someone who writers by the seat of their pants, planning as I write) it’s all happening at the same time. I’m currently working on a novella and while I know all the characters, the plot took some time to figure out. But I already know the plot for Book 5 in my Heart’s Ease series, and know one of the characters. The heroine is still an unknown at this point. I like it that way.
4. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
Loosely speaking, all romances end the same, with a happily ever after. So I generally know that much. For me, I get stuck in the middle of my books if I’ve over thought the ending too much. The middle becomes about how to get my characters to the place they’re supposed to be. I’m happier when I’m letting them take me to the place they’re meant to be.
5. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
I mainly write what I know, or what I’ve dreamed up in my head. That being said, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at houses online, and looking at floor plans because I have a natural case of house envy.
6. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Both, although these days I do a lot more online research than book reading. Depending on what you’re researching, you have to be careful of your sources. Historical research for me means checking the sources of anything I find online. I’m a stickler for academic jounals, which is likely a holdover from my days of studying history at university. To be honest, the best online research I do these days is in terms of fashion. I’m hopelessly unfashionable. So when I want my characters to look awesome, I go online and find their clothing. It makes describing what they’re wearing much easier. I also love Google for helping me with weird questions that arise when I’m writing. When I was working on Hard As Ice, I googled “Can you have sex with a concussion.” Turns out you can. I would have had a hard time finding that answer quickly in a book. Although I suppose I could have asked my doctor. He gets a kick out of having a romance author as a patient.
7. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
I’m a pantser, for sure. I’ve managed to kill my inner-editor for first drafts, but I will go back and revise issues that arise during writing my first draft, just so that I don’t miss it later on. I normally have my first draft that I send to my editor and crit partner. Then I edit based on their initial thoughts. Then I send it to my editor again, and out to Beta readers. Then I do a final edit again. Back to my editor. We both proof like mad. And then out it goes to the universe.
Contemporary Romance Author
Contemporary Romance Author