Once an idea pops into my head, and I’ve researched it enough to get a handle on it, I sit down and decide where in the story I’m going to begin. As you’ve probably been taught by English teachers since grammar school, you need to start your writing with a hook.
It’s the same in novel writing. If you try and do a lot of back story, it becomes a snooze fest, and the reader puts your book aside. If you start too far into the action, you’re in danger of losing your reader. If they can’t make heads or tails of what’s going on, they’ll move on to a more-easy-to-visualize book. It’s a delicate balance.
In all romance novels, that hook is called the “meet-cute,” the moment when hero and heroine first meet. It needs to be fresh, inventive, and draw in the reader. And cute. How many romance novels are out there? A billion, at least? It gets increasingly difficult to make the “meet-cute” fresh and inventive.
Today my example book is the one I recently turned in to my editor, entitled Protecting the Nanny. It’s due out (tentatively) on Valentine’s Day, 2018. It’s about a woman who, unknowingly, works as a nanny to a boy whose father works for a Mexican drug cartel, and the DEA agent sent to investigate her.
What the heck? One minute she was attempting to block out thoughts of her past, as well as the beach beefcake, and the next she was seeing stars. That frigging volleyball had bounced off her head! Tossing her sketchbook and pencil aside, Kate jumped up, blinking tears of pain from her eyes and rubbing the crown of her head. With so few people on the beach, it stood to reason that the ball would find her. She’d been a target for balls and Frisbees all her life. Not much had changed, except the pain. What was it filled with? Lead?
“I am so sorry.”
It was the volleyball jock with the penetrating gaze and mouth-watering chest. Up close he was even better looking. Short-cropped, light brown hair that curled at the ends, a face covered with a hint of blonde stubble, and those green eyes that now sparkled with sheepish humor. And that chest that looked sculpted from marble, yet warm and touchable.
Flexing her fingers to keep from reaching out to touch his sun-kissed skin, Kate bent and grabbed up the ball, resting it against her hip with her arm. The guy’s eyes followed her movements, then traveled up her bikini-clad body to meet her gaze. Tingles erupted over her skin as if he’d caressed her.
Once I have the meet-cute, I usually come out of the gate like a sprinter. I have a picture in my head of how I want the scene to progress, and I write feverishly. After all, I’ve done my research, and I’ve made my character list and plot line, so I’m pretty familiar with my story, at least with the first few chapters. I usually write down every event I want to happen in the current chapter, and then I start addressing those ideas in my writing. If the chapter gets too long (I like to keep mine at about 3500 words), I take the extra scenes and plan them for the next chapter.
Along with setting the meet-cute to the screen, I also must decide whose point of view I want to write from: the heroine’s, or the hero’s. I like to switch from one POV to the other in a chapter, so I decide from which character’s I will start. A writer finds out fast which POV will work; it’s easy. If the writing becomes stilted and difficult, you’re writing from the wrong character’s POV. So, then you have to rewrite the scene from the other character’s POV. Time-consuming, but it goes so much easier once you’ve decided. Halfway through the chapter, I switch POVs. Readers seem to really like the dual POV.
I used to try to write in the mornings, because it was quieter around the house. But I’ve found that the mornings are best for marketing and promotion. Being in the Pacific Time Zone, if I want anyone east of me to see my posts, I must get them out early. So, now I do all my social media in the morning. And when the afternoon rolls around, I sit at my desk, put on some favorite instrumental CD music, and write.
My first draft is written any way I can get the picture in my mind on to the screen. I don’t worry about proper vocabulary, or repetitive words. It’s almost like the old “Dick and Jane” books I learned to read on. For example: Kate jumped up and grabbed the volleyball. She glared at the volleyball jock. He gave her a sexy once over with his really green eyes. See? It doesn’t sound very good, does it? However, I’ve gotten the gist of the idea written down so I won’t forget it.
I’m going to end here, and we’ll definitely have to have a Part 2 to this topic. In it I will address what happens when I hit a snag, i.e., Writer’s Block. See you next time!
Let me know what you think, so far. I love hearing from readers, and other authors.