Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writing a Series -- Setbacks

Today we were supposed to indulge in Research as our topic, however, as the blog title implies, we are dealing with a setback today.

I am nearly finished with THE SEDUCTION OF MR. SUMMERVILLE. If you have followed my sporadic Tweets from this week you will see I stopped writing. I would like to say the book is done, but it's not. I need to write the ending. Oh, yes, all the loose ends are tied up, all the plot holes are fixed, I've edited until my eyes are blind. I am right where I want to be, on schedule and everything.

But the book is not moving forward. I'm stuck in the middle of the denouement and it's not working. This happy ending is a little too saccharine. Needless to say, I'm stuck until I figure out a way to fix it. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a book that has a happy ending, but as we know, I'm working on the finale to a series. To me, it has to be BIG, and luscious, and just WOW. I want my readers to say, "Oh, hey, let me read that whole series again." I want them to say to everyone, "Oh, you should read this series. It's fantastic." Because the last book has to satisfy your reader, the same way your first book got your reader hooked.

I'm no different than any other writer on this planet. We write so people can read our stories. And we want them to be GOOD stories.

Okay, so here's my secret to setbacks. Let it go. Just get up from your chair and walk away. There's no use trying to eek words onto the page because they'll only be crappy words and you'll end up throwing them all away anyway.

Do something physical. Clean the house, car, garage, kitchen cabinets. Do laundry. Do something that you wouldn't normally do. Rake leaves, pull weeds. Go to the mall. Take a walk. Use the other half of your brain for a few days. Do art (writers are usually creative in other aspects of their lives). Scrapbook. Make tie-dye t-shirts. Find a great picture for your holiday cards. I don't really care what you do, just take a few days away from the story. Allow your brain to think about other things. And I don't mean everyday things. Not the kids homework, or your mother-in-law's birthday party, or Christmas. Concentrate on something else.

Okay, so if you're of the idea that concentrating on your book is first and foremost on your mind, and you don't think rearranging the linen closet is going to work, and you really want to be "working" on it, go to IMBD and search out your characters. Go to ReMax and pick out the houses for your characters to live in. Scour census records for names. Watch movies in your genre. ( I don't have time to read these days, and I can easily give up two hours for a movie instead of eight for a book. I can iron in front of the tv.)

I try to give myself at least three days of non-writing for my brain to decide how to fix the problem. If that doesn't work, I play the what-if game. (I generally only use this as a last resort because the story is already fixed in my head.) If that doesn't work, then I light something on fire. Metaphorically speaking. Sort of. I find something BIG to throw the characters into. In THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE I blew up a ship. In THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, Penny was kidnapped.

And mind you, this kind of set-back is just a little bump in the road. Sometimes it's referred to as writer's block. Other times, you realize you've boxed your characters into a corner with no way out. (We'll discuss the larger issue of External Controls later on.) But you know you can fix this, it'll just take a little more creativity.

Okay, so I'm three days out on my setback. I've done all the laundry I can find. I've scoured my kitchen floor, I've vacuumed every dust bunny. Today I have to dive back in and see if I can get over that final hump. If it doesn't work, there's a yard full of leaves waiting for me.

And I announced this on my other blog last week. Today it's your turn. Here is the cover for Seduction.

American shipbuilder, Stephen Summerville has a bit of a dilemma when he meets two very beautiful English sisters. However, when Stephen is confronted with the aristocratic father he never knew, deciding on a wife seems like a small task in comparison to what he must decide for his future. The last book in the Reluctant Grooms series coming Christmas 2014.

I'm attempting to make it a pre-order by November 15th. But it won't be out until Christmas.

Next week, we'll tackle research. Hope you'll stop by.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

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