I may not be a formula writer, but there are certain rules for basic plot structure that all fiction writers must follow. A protagonist is trying to achieve a certain goal. An antagonist gets in their way. This creates the conflict that drives the story. The conflict builds to a climax, followed by a conclusion. This is the tonal scale for a novel writer. In romance, the expected conclusion is for the couple to end up married, engaged, or make some other commitment to one another.
My first three novels, The Reunion,The Deception, and The Journey, all ended with the leading characters getting married. In the case of The Journey, remarried. However, I’ve deviated of course in TheBetrayal. This time I did it in reverse.
The Betrayal is the story of a married woman who discovers, in a rather bizarre way, that her husband is cheating on her. Therefore, my protagonist trying to get herself unmarried. Along the way, she’ll find her true love, but this time the ending is different. Emily, the leading lady, is once again single. And while she and the leading man are in love with one another, neither are ready for a commitment. The ending leaves the other characters, and the reader, speculating that they will probably marry. Someday.
I took this path with this story because I think it’s more like real-life. Divorced people often are gun shy about remarriage. I also think readers like variety. I know I do as a writer, and having all my characters go up the aisle at the end of each novel gets redundant over time. It might make me a “formula” writer, and that’s something I don’t want to become.
Look for The Betrayal to be released later this summer.
The other day I was chatting with a friend who’s reading The Deception. She said she wanted to deck the boyfriend who dumps leading lady Carrie in the first chapter. This chapter was inspired by a real-life event.
A few years ago my friends and I visited Seaworld in San Diego. As we walked around the park we happened to pass by a well-dressed young lady sitting on a bench, sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, a very serious look on his face. As we hurried past I realized he’d brought her there to dump her, thinking she wouldn’t cause a scene.
I’ll never know for sure what happened, but that picture stayed in my mind. And you know what happens when something stays in a novel writer’s mind, don’t you? It comes out in a story. In this instance, it became the inspiration for the opening scene of The Deception, but with a different location. This time the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. Her boyfriend also thinks dumping her in public means she won’t cause a scene, but he’s wrong. Very wrong. Dumping someone in public only adds more humiliation to the person being dumped.
Inspiration can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it.
We’re still hard at work for the new book trailer for The Deception. Today videographer Rob Resetar shot two more scenes; a love scene between Carrie, the leading lady, and Scott, one of the antagonists, and the photo shoot scene. The photo shoot happens early in the novel. It’s the watershed event that shapes the rest of the story.
We still have a few more scenes to film. With any luck, the book trailer will be complete right after the first of the year. In the meantime please enjoy this except from The Deception about the photo shoot. MM
an excerpt from The Deception
Carrie woke up to her ringing cellphone. She rolled over and scooped it up from the floor.”Hello.” Her voice sounded groggy.
“So what the heck is going on with you?” asked the woman on the other end of the line.
To read the rest of this excerpt please click on the link below.
There is more to The Betrayal than just one betrayal. It’s also a good cop bad cop story. For some, this has already created a bit of a controversy.
When I first started working on the manuscript, I posted something on Facebook about the villain being a corrupt police detective, while the hero is a good cop who eventually catches the bad cop. Within a few hours of posting someone started losing their lunch, posting a scathing comment to the effect of how dare I write a story about a bad cop. My response was that the story is fiction, and what part of the hero being the good cop did he not understand? Then it was on to the unfreind button.
I honestly do believe that the vast majority of police officers out there are good people. Therefore my leading man, along with a few supporting characters, are all good cops. Unfortunately, there are a some bad ones out there too. They can, and do, destroy innocent lives as well as tarnish the reputations of all the good cops out there. Yes, The Betrayal is a work of fiction, but good or bad, its inspiration comes from real life.
They’re out there. The liars. The cheaters. The scumbags. The players. The married men who put themselves out as single men. And, like the predators they are, they like to prey on unsuspecting single women, looking for lasting relationships.
Scott Andrews, the antagonist in my romance novel, The Deception, is one of those predators. Handsome and charming, Scott can, and does, pass himself off as a single man. He presents himself as the perfect catch for a single woman looking for her soulmate. And, unfortunately, for the woman, she has no idea that Scott’s married.
A mutual friend introduces Scott to leading lady Carrie, the leading lady. As usual, he presents himself as a single man, and he hasn’t just fooled Carrie. He’s also fooled their mutual friend, Allison. Not only does Allison believe that Scott is single, she also thinks he might be a good match for Carrie, who’s recovering from an earlier breakup. Scott quickly takes advantage of her vulnerability, but Carrie will soon realize things aren’t adding up. By then it will too late, and the consequences will leave her life shattered.
Scott is inspired by someone I once knew, as well as stories other women have told me. He may be a fictional character, but there are, unfortunately, many real life Scotts out there. Stay safe, ladies.
Funny what inspires us as writers. Back in December, 2012, I posted about how my many years of watching soap operas influenced my writing. Apparently, growing up in the golden age of television had an effect on me. However, I wasn’t just watching soap operas. I watched detective shows too.
As a teenager and young adult, I loved Columbo and the original Hawaii Five-O. Both were well written. There were no overtly graphic images. No bodies laid out on the autopsy table. No gory, mutilated or half burned corpses, unlike today’s detective shows. Good writing certainly doesn’t need that kind of visual imagery. Facial expressions, or comments made by other characters will tell us what we need to know. Our imaginations can do the rest.
The late Peter Falk’s portrayal of the bumbling title character made Columbo great. So were all the bad guys who thought they could outsmart him. What made the show fun was the way Lt. Columbo would seize on an obscure, overlooked detail that even surprised the audience. Hawaii Five-O offered spectacular scenery and well thought out plot lines. The characters may not have been as well developed as Lt. Columbo. However, there was one unforgettable nemeses. Wo Fat. Kudos to the script writers of both.
Crime stories create conflict and great drama. It’s why I include crime subplots in my novels. Whether it’s Gillian’s murderous ex-husband on a rampage in The Reunion, Scott’s jilted wife’s in The Deception, or the revenge seeking Denise wreaking havoc in The Journey, these crime subplots create the tension, and the drama. And, as a result, the readers keep turning the pages. Look for more in my next novel, The Betrayal. Until then, happy reading.
Cassie Palmer is a character best described as grace under pressure. Seemingly naive and shy, Cassie is an iron lady in disguise.
We first meet Cassie in TheReunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The diner owner is none other than Gillian’s long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted, Samantha unveils another surprise; her daughter, Cassie. While Gillian is surprised, Jeremy’s life will never be the same.
Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the story. She returns in The Journey, this time as the leading lady. As the story unfolds, her world will turn upside down. Yet through it all, she remains gracefully resilient.
Cassie is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I know in real life. She is, however, an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.
I seem to have gotten into the habit of creating some really evil antagonists. So much so that they’re even scaring me and leaving me wondering where on earth are these people coming from? Then my good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, explained to me that the antagonist doesn’t always have to be an evil villain. He or she could simply be someone whose goals are contrary to the protagonist’s goals. So, after listening to David’s comments, I’ve come up with an antagonist who has no evil intentions.
Harrison Tyler, or Hal, as his friends call him, is a nurse practitioner and one of the antagonists who appear in The Journey. We first meet Hal during a time when leading man Jeremy is missing and presumed dead. Cassie, Jeremy’s wife, is still recovering from an auto accident. As luck would have it, she meets Hal at a medical appointment. He happens to be filling in for someone else that day, and immediately falls for Cassie. Her brother-in-law, Larry, is also there. Larry thinks Hal is a decent guy, so he encourages Cassie to go have coffee with him. A reluctant Cassie finally agrees, just to get Larry off her back.
Cassie sees Hal as a friend who’s come into her life at a time when she really needs one. To Hal, however, Cassie is a rare find. And while he hasn’t quite fallen in love with her, but he knows he wants her, and he’s willing to wait until she’s ready. If that means having to be persistent, if not a little bit manipulative, so be it. His intention isn’t to cause any harm. He simply wants to make Cassie his, before it’s too late.
Hal is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I’ve ever met in real life. He’s a nice guy in the awkward position of wanting something he can never really have, but still trying to reach for it anyway.
I’ve just read a new review of The Reunion on Amazon. The reviewer said she had been up until three o’clock in the morning because she couldn’t put the book down. Interestingly enough, she’s not the first one with this problem. I’ve had similar complaints on Facebook.
So, what can I say? I’m sorry to be the cause of your sleepless nights, (she writes tongue in cheek). And you should see it from my end. When I was writing The Reunion, I often didn’t get to bed until well after midnight either. The ideas kept flowing. This happened with my other novels as well.
What is it about my romance novels that’s so compelling? From what my readers tell me, it’s the plot twits and the characters. They tell me my characters are very real and very believable. I honestly wish I could tell you my secret of how I create them, but I don’t know how I do it either.
How I create my characters
Some characters, like Ian and Samantha in The Reunion, are loosely based on real people, and I used part of their personalities as a starting point. The next thing I knew, the characters had taken on lives of their own and they become unique individuals. The same could be said for all the purely fictitious characters who weren’t based on anyone in particular. I guess something must be going on in my subconscious mind. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. I’m pleased you all are happy with the results.
Meantime, while I wait for The Journey to come back from the editor, I’m cooking up a new cast of characters for my next book, The Betrayal. Look for it in 2014.