Welcome Home! I hope everyone enjoyed their sojourn to the Giant's Causeway. Thanks again, Jessica.
Carrying on from last Thursday.
As I mentioned, the group I'm addressing is a Romance Writers of America chapter, so using my plotting board for my mystery didn't seem as appropriate as using one of my romantic suspenses. And since I'm using Hidden Fire, which is a romantic suspense, not a mystery, the book is actually much more complex. Why?
Because a romance, by "convention" must include two protagonists, often almost equal in weight. Readers want to connect with both characters, so there are two character arcs to deal with. Then, there's (of course) the romance plot. And in romantic suspense, there's the suspense (or in my books, the mystery) plot.
What I discovered was that the plots were tightly interwoven, so most scenes covered more than one of the basic sub-plots, which is the way it should be. However, I really have no recollection of doing this consciously as I wrote the book.
For example, the book opens with a scene in a restaurant. Randy and Sarah are having dinner after 6 weeks apart. They finish eating, decide to continue the evening at Sarah's apartment. Before they get there, Randy gets a call, and he goes to work.
A simple relationship scene, right? Mainly, but it goes deeper than that.
Randy has been out of town for 6 weeks in a special training task force, and Sarah is very much on his mind. Sarah, on the other hand, has had some time to worry that getting involved with a cop might not be the sort of lifestyle she wants. She insists on meeting him at a restaurant rather than at one of their homes, going so far as to dress demurely. (Of course, Randy being a guy doesn't really care—if he notices at all.)
Randy's stint on a violent crimes task force isn't dinner table conversation, yet not talking about it still shows him 'on the job'. Other little conflicts: she wants to finish her dessert (chocolate mousse—who wouldn't); he wants to get the heck on the road. Her conflict grows as her attraction to Randy overcomes her desire to take a rational approach to the relationship. They leave, agreeing there's no point in pretending they don't both want each other.
More conflict: Randy gets a call summoning him to work. But he's technically not due back for another 24 hours, so he could ignore the call. The call, however, is from his boss, the Chief of Police, which tells Randy it's important. Randy chooses work. This reinforces Sarah's fear that Randy cares more about his job than he cares about her.
The next scene will show Randy at a crime scene. Definitely a "Randy on the Job" scene. Yet as he works, he thinks of Sarah, and as he interacts with the other cops, we see that they're aware he was called away from a hot date, so the relationship theme appears in the scene as well.
As the book progresses, so do the relationship and the mystery. They become more tightly woven, and there's no way the book would stand on its own if you removed either.
For me, much of this has become "organic" as I plan each scene. I know what my characters want, and I find ways to keep them from getting it. But analyzing how things fit together happens in edits, not in the first go-round.
And, on a slightly related note, I got an email from the Jacksonville workshop organizer who said there would be a projector for PowerPoint should I want to use it. Why not? Should it matter that I've never created a PowerPoint presentation from scratch? I'm always up for trying something different. And it was new for me, so less boring than picking out bits and pieces to put in my speaker notes. (Are you seeing the "I don't plot because if I know what's going on it's boring" theme in here as well?)
PowerPoint had a tolerable user learning curve, although I'm not delving into any fancy stuff. I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get text to fade in over an image (with thanks to Jess!), but other than that one, no other bells and whistles. I'll use slides for talking points. And it'll give the audience something other than my face to look at.
And since I got another message that I could have a projector from the coordinator of the Written in the Stars conference in Shreveport March 5-6, I'm going to try one for my Dialogue Basics presentation there as well. Actually, it's not creating the presentation that scares me. It's the having to deal with audio visual equipment: Will I need my own laptop? Will a flash drive work if they have one? Will their computer talk to my flash drive? Will their projector hook up to my laptop? And what if it doesn't work? Since these PowerPoint slides are "extras", and I've got handouts, I figure it's not going to be a presentation-killer if I can't use it after all.
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