Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hooks and writing

Yesterday was a better day. I finally figured out a hook I can work with for my next book.

To do this, I had to find my copy of Leslie Wainger's Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies. I had been looking for it for days, ever since I knew I was slightly stuck on the exact hooky premise. Could I find it? No. Not until, I looked under the sofa in my cave. There long with half the known pens in the universe, a pair of scissors, my very handy device for cutting articles out of the newspaper that my sister gave me two Christmas's, a book on Victorian etiquette and assorted items, it rested gathering dust.

I find Leslie's book useful for a number of reasons. Like a good editor, she does list the tried and tested premises for romance. These include: reunion, secret baby, marriage of convienence, runaway bride, kidnapped bride, pregnant bride, office romance, mistaken identity, woman in jeopardy, dad next door, back from the dead, stranded with a stranger, on the run, cowboy v city girl, amnesia,bluestocking v bad boy etc etc. You can also reverse the hooks. Cowgirl v city slicker for example, or woman returns from the dead. They are tried and tested places to hang hats, and the most important thing to remember is the WHY and WHAT are the CONSEQUENCES. When one uses a hook, the characters and their motivations become the most important part of story. In other words, to use one of Leslie Wainger's catch phrases -- It's All In the Execution. Of course, these things are much easier to execute, if you have an idea of your hook in the first place. An idea of why your two main characters are going to be forced to be together if you will.

Personally I find it easier to write without reinventing the wheel, I do like to think of my hooks and how I can use them. They have to fit with the characters and the basic situation. I know my heroine as she was a secondary in A Christmas Wedding Wager. My hero has been dictating his terms. I know where and when it took place. I knew what I thought the hook was, and then I read the list and both characters said -- not that one, but this one. So Kidnapped bride it is. Now all I have to do is figure out the exact whys and wherefores. In other words, really and truly make it my own. Why is this story going to be different from any other kidnapped bride stories? Why should the reader care? The answer is going to lie in the characters' motivation.

For anyone wondering I saw Sold and Seduced as a marriage of convienence story with a little twist of woman in jeopardy. The working title was The Pirate's Bargained Bride. I had filled out the Art Fact sheet with the wedding etc. My lovely editor had other ideas and indeed saw other hooks. She wanted to go with the mood of the book. It is she who came up with the gorgeous title -- Sold and Seduced and then found the artwork which matched the mood. If you want to learn more about tiles, Buzz, Balls and Hype has had several interesting articles about the science of choosing titles.

It was at this point I realised that I write my books with certain ideas, but my editor when she is writing the blurb might or might not see them as important.
BTW if anyone is wondering how office romance fits in with historicals -- Iwould ask them to think of it as employer v employee. The governess story or the knight hired story.

My newsletter is coming on, and I hope it will prove interesting reading. If you have not signed up for it, please do. The contest prize is a signed copy of S&S's seed book --The Antonakos Marriage as well as a copy of S&S.

1 comment:

Donna Alward said...

Now you've made me want to dig out my copy. :-) Think I definitely will before starting my next.