Sunday, February 03, 2008

Action/reaction sequence and consequences

First of all, it has come to my attention that there has been another article on M&B, this time by The Independant. Although the article is unsigned, I suspect the journalist was a man. He certainly seemed taken with one of the editors, likening her to a M&B heroine. He also bravely called the M&B editiorial director a dame and ended with a yes ma'am. For the record, historical romances are about more than mob caps, doublets and ruffles. Thankfully the editors were able to explain about certain things. The important thing is that Mills & Boon is not about to change its promise to the reader. They have delivered on that promise for 100 years and they intend on keeping it. It is the reaction of the M&B reader that is important and not some journalist. They publish books for Their Readers and their readers are far more numerous than smug journalistic types realized.

I am starting to write my next one, a Viking with an unreconstructed Viking male (btw). And I make not apologies for Ivar being strong willed and in charge. Edda is more than capable of giving him a run for his money.
Every time I start manuscript,I have to keep the action/ reaction sequence in my head. Although coincidence can play a part at the start, it can not play a part at the end. My protagonists must be willful. In other words, they have strong wills and inner cores of steel. They make things happen.Their lives go out of balance, and then they try to restore the balance. This attempt at restoration causes the world to react in unexpected ways, forcing the protagonists to take bigger risks, until eventually they are playing for very high stakes indeed. One always has to ask -- what happens if my protagonist walks away. Going back to normal every day life is not an option. If it is, then the stakes and the risks are not high enough and the reader will lose interest.
Also if the action results in no reaction, then the plot can feel episodic rather than flowing. Every time a subplot is concluded, it must further the main story. It cannot be an end to itself.

And every time, I start a story, I have to remind myself of these things. You would think that I might have had it drummed into to my head by now, but no. It is what first drafts are for, I guess, allowing the creative side of my brain to explore the possibilities and see how I can make the stakes higher for my characters.

BTW, my daughter tells me that Gene Hunt is divorced in Ashes to Ashes and that is why he has moved to London. Okay, fine, but it would have been more poignant if his wife had died from something and he could not save her. Then he found it difficult to live in Manchester and so moved down. Also as some of this might be happening Alex Brown's head as she fights to return to 2008, divorce might be the easier option.

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