My first book, Luna, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I had never read a romance novel, let alone a paranormal one. But the characters were born and I had to put their lives down on paper. A million edit sessions later, the book reached a publisher.
Now, I write smarter. I plot my stories. I practically write the book in my head before committing it to paper. I type my opening scene and then…something goes horribly awry.
My characters hijack the storyline. Oh, they want the Happily Ever After. They just want it on their terms. Proud of their spunk, I let them take the reins for a bit, let scenes unfold based on what each of them needs to get to that HEA ending.
But only so far. My characters have more than enough “ass” and “bitch” in them to self-destruct. I guess I’m like a therapist/writer, someone who knows where she wants her hero and heroine to wind up (in each other’s arms, thank you very much). They are, after all, messed up to start with. I merely clear the path and guide them along until they figure themselves out.
Is that plotting? To a certain extent. I know the path my story will take. I even know some of the necessary rest stops along the way and steer my characters toward them. If my characters react like the alpha personalities they are, sometimes I have to give them a gentle nudge toward healing, toward their end game of having their loves in their arms and hearts forever.
Take Urick’s first reaction to his HEA, for example:
If you love something set it free? Clearly, the fucktard who said this didn’t know his ass from his armpit, or jack shit about Kynd and their Chosen Ones.
Granted, Urick had kidnapped his “love,” but hey. Watching her suck blood from a sick child’s vein had kicked him off the ledge of sanity he’d been gripping to. That she was his Chosen One, a woman God—in his infinite wisdom—had seen fit to pair him with, was the diarrhea icing on his crapper of a cake.
This leech was the female destined to release him from his curse of turning to stone every day of his pathetic existence. Yay for him. Talk about the short straw and the short hairs.
Speaking of which, right then the short hairs on his balls were feeling the sting as his heretofore flaccid dick unfurled its length, while he glared at the stone around his neck—his Chosen One.
A vampire. She had to be a frigging vampire. Of all the creatures, beasts, and what-have-yous roaming these realms he got paired with a bloodsucker. If he’d had the choice, he’d have bonded with…oh, Medusa maybe, or Typhoid Mary.
(from Lover in Chains, coming August 2017)
Not a very good start for either of my characters. But, I had a deadline with my publisher. They could get pissy with each other all they wanted, just as long as they kissed and made up.
There it is, my Process, if you can call it that. Basically, my writing strategy is a relationship between me and my characters. It’s never static, and changes from book to book. I keep my ducklings as lined up as possible, but inevitably they wander, and it’s up to me to get them to the pond with as few mishaps as possible.
It’s work, but not nearly as much as writing without a rough outline.