Characters, Secrets, & Discovery

I am taking a few days off from revisions. I needed to walk away from the manuscript so that I could see it clearly again. I am almost at the stage where I think I’m ready to send the revisions back to my editor, but I want to go through the ms. one more time to make sure that the changes I’ve introduced flow smoothly with the rest of the story.

Conformal Cats (8074241727)As a change of pace, I’ve gone back to a story that I was developing when I got The Call. There are still some secrets that my characters are hiding from me.

In the first draft, I discover the characters. In the second draft, I refine the scenes to make the story clearer. That approach doesn’t work for everyone, but I like finding out about the characters as I write the story. That makes it fun.

To hook the reader, you need to make it clear what the characters want — not just what their goal is, but what happens if they don’t achieve the goal. The reader wants to root for the protagonist, but they need to know what they’re rooting for. What is at stake for the character? What are the consequences if they fail? That’s what I’m trying to discover.

In a romance novel, the characters have to change before they can accept the love of their life. At the beginning of the story, the character does not want to change. They resist it. It’s comfortable to stay who you are. The person Lia is at the start of the story would never have been able to endure the crisis.  But because she has changed by the end, she can make the choice that leads her to accept that Geoff’s love for her is real and enduring.

I’m trying to figure out what change the heroine is most reluctant to make. What is it, what is the one thing about herself that she doesn’t want to change? What is the worst thing that could happen to her if she does change? Or if she doesn’t?

Do you have any favorite techniques to uncover your characters? Maybe this is all old hat to you. If so, here’s a link so you can go play free rice.


Metaphor soup, or thoughts about revising a story

When I first looked at the list of all the things I needed to revise in this manuscript, I was daunted. The list of fixes loomed before me like an impenetrable barrier, a huge wall blocking my way forward.

Now that I’ve been chipping away at the revisions, it’s starting to feel a lot more doable. I’ve cut it down to size. Or gotten my head in the game. Not sure what metaphor fits here, but I don’t want to revise this paragraph again. I need to get back to the manuscript.


These guys are either thinking “Wow! Isn’t it cool we’ve come this far!” or Helllllllp!

One really great thing that I’ve found while doing these revisions is this: I’ve found my way back to the initial seed-idea that started me writing it, the thing that I found intriguing enough to start pounding the keyboard in the first place. I’m finding ways to layer that original idea back into the story. It had gotten buried in all the different character arcs.
Now that I’ve cleared out the undergrowth somewhat, I can see it again. (Yes, I know, another metaphor thrown into the soup.Maybe it’ll add flavor.)

It’s a lot of work, but it feels like I’m getting somewhere.