I am working on Champagne right now, a character-driven novel based on a short story I wrote. It’s due January 1st and while I loved writing the story, the novel has been proving a bit more problematic. See, I’m a genre writer. Mysteries, horror, fantasy… where things blow up, people get killed, zombies munch on the living, dames wisecrack…y’know, there’s lots of action. I’ve got 6 more genre erotica-romance books lined up after Champagne, all of which will involve all of the above and then some. I’m particularly hyped up about a (wait for it) post-apocalyptic romance (Dave calls it my Cozy Catastrophe series) in which I plan on first destroying most of civilization with a nasty virus and then letting my hero and heroine have all the fun of living off the remnants while outrunning a crazy ex-surfer turned warlord who’s taken over La Jolla.
I mean…c’mon! This is fun stuff we’re talking!
But…that’s two and two-thirds books down the line. First I have to finish Champagne and then tackle a semi sword and sorcery project.
During the drive to and from San Diego, however, my brain and creativity took a giant leap forward into Post Apocalypse land. With Dave as a sounding board and co-enabler (he loves post apocalyptic books and movies as much as I do), I came up with a skeleton outline for the entire book, picked out locations along the road for my characters to hide in and/or run the gauntlet of unpleasant surprises hiding there, had chunks of dialogue and character quirks spring in entirety from my mind like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. I could almost waking dream myself into scenes and watch them unfold like a movie; something I haven’t been able to do since I was in my early teens. It was amazing and inspiring…and just so much friggin’ fun figuring out just what symptoms the nasty disease would manifest in its victims, what horrors I could unleash on the survivors, and how much fun they’d still have shopping for free in abandoned stores. And yes, sex all of this up ’cause this is genre erotica romance, after all!
But first I have to finish Champagne. So that’s what I’ve been working on.
I had a mini-tantrum this afternoon after spending a half hour on one paragraph. “I HATE these characters. They’re boring. No one gets eaten or blown up. They just talk and have sex in picturesque places. Feh!”
I then stomped around the house a bit, had a glass of mineral water and sulked. Then I came back and sat down with my iBook, where my characters in Champagne were waiting for me with sad, hurt expressions. “We’re interesting,” they told me. “Just because we’re not being chased by zombies or being amateur sleuths doesn’t mean we can’t lead rich, full lives that other people will enjoy reading about.” My lead character took me aside for a moment and said, “Why don’t we try THIS…” and whispered a few things in my ear, some ideas of where we could take the story. “I’ll do my best to be entertaining if you remember that we’re from your imagination. We’re your kids too…even if we don’t use crossbows or swordfight.”
And she was right. I originally created these characters because I loved them, even the annoying ones. And it’s not fair to them to shove them to the back of my mind just because a new toy is prettier and shinier (and lets me destroy most of civilization!). So I made a bargain with the inhabitants of Champagne – that I would accord them the same attention and enthusiasm as other, more action packed projects. And in return they would continue to work with me to create the most interesting and entertaining world possible for them to occupy.
And I promise to leave them alone when I destroy the world…
That’s the spirit, Baby! Just keep letting them show you the way and enjoy the ride!
Heh. Just wait till the evil disease attacks… heheheheheheh… Bwahhhhahahahahaahh!!!!!
And yes, you’re right! 🙂
Sounds like a good plan to me. Robert E. Howard, remember, used to say that he wrote some of his best Conan stories with the vaunted Cimmerian leaning over his shoulder telling him what had happened in a particuilar adventure. The creative process does seem to work that way some times. You’re right to follow your instincts here. And I know your vision of the post-apocalypse will be great too. I’m really looking forward to it. The best of luck with CHAMPAIGN.
Dang…maybe if I put my main character from Champagne in a chain mail bikini with a huge sword…
This is a really nice post. It’s sort of about forgiving and accepting yourself through the characters you’ve been neglecting/resenting.
I like how you got into a dialogue with your characters here and then made a pact with them. I’m sure good things lie ahead.
thanks! I just hope it continues to work…’cause I did a little under a thousand words after I had the little talk there
Stop! Take a half-day with a micro cassette and record the post-apocalyptic plot, dialogue, scenes, characters, mind-movie, etc. Get it down now before you continue with the current characters and story. First, because you don’t want to lose a minute of what has come to you now. Second, because if you don’t it sounds to me like these characters in the future book will just continue to pop into your head.
I’d say you’ve given the current characters enough of a scare that if you keep them on hold for another half day, they will be so happy to have you back they’ll do cart-wheels.
Thanks, James! It seems to have taken the edge off and let me focus on my gentler ‘kids.’
Helen, you evil, wonderful woman… I think you’re right and although it feels like cheating, I’m gonna do just that. I’ll have a talk with the Champagne gang and let them know I’m coming right back.
Doesn’t your computer have speech recognition?? Talk into it about the apocalypse ideas! Wish I had my ideas still from decades ago… when the axis shift was a big deal, remember? I love those kinds of stories! Hurry up! Your fans await. You know, I just stumbled upon another one recently that sounded good. An eBook… think I’ll go download that.
What about the next MFH? When?
My computer does not have speech recognition installed, as far as I know. I’m typing the notes in, which works just as well for me so I won’t let those ideas be lost.
Now be warned, Dani, there will be post apocalyptic sex! Nora Roberts would blush, y’know… 🙂
I’ll be doing the next MFH after February, when the current book and the non-fiction book are both finished. I expect the rest of my ebooks to be written very quickly!