Monday, May 2, 2016

How Much Does the Story Change?

Because my style of writing is “pantser” (I write a novel by the seat of my pants) I don’t have several detailed pages of character and plot when I begin. A dedicated “plotter” will have everything laid out, often by chapter and scene. I usually have a beginning, and with any luck, an ending. Sometimes I have a single scene, sometimes I just have an interesting character. And then I begin to write my tale.

Take “The Dark Lady” for example. That began with me trying to answer the question rattling around in my head of: How do Evil Queens get their bad reputations? By the time I set fingertips to keyboard, I was dealing with a ten year old princess who had just woken up to discover her parents dead and three scheming uncles after her throne. While I tried to stick to the Evil Queen theme, I wandered off thinking more about a situation like what Queen Elizabeth the First found herself in as a teenage girl surrounded by scheming courtiers (some of whom might well have been murderous.) I went off on this tangent instead, following my heroine’s story through three novels, all coming out of the single idea I had at the beginning. There is some hope for my original idea though, I suppose. A friend of mine who read and enjoyed the series said he expected the male protagonist would probably fling himself from a tall tower if he had to experience living through another novel with my exasperating young lady.

Maybe I should write that one, plenty of time for her to show her really evil side, instead of just several different shades of darkness.

Now, the second novel I had published, “The Queen’s Pawn,” (that also turned into a trilogy) had a completely different birth and a much lighter tone. I had a single scene in my head, a burning city falling to a besieging army. This time my character was an innocent young man, a farm boy studying at the seminary in the city. I had no idea where I was going when I started. I soon found out: a mistaken identity, a mysterious wizard, a trapped, scatterbrained queen, (more on her later) and an unbearably bratty teenage princess. And the tale is off and running with the refugees fleeing the city pursued by assorted villains. To amuse myself, I had an assortment of lusty ladies throw themselves at the very confused lad. When I write this way I often discover things about the characters I didn’t know when I started. How was I to know that the queen was definitely not scatterbrained, but extremely clever and slightly manipulative? With three novels, (the last book, “The Queen’s Game,” will be out later this year.) all the characters have had a chance to grow, and change, and continue to surprise me.

When I completed the first book, I had no idea they would continue to gallop on in such good fun, and much heavy breathing, for several hundred more pages.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volume 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Coming events in 2016: Toltec Dawn (Book 1 of 3)

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