On Monday, I finished up the book I'd started back before Thanksgiving. It normally takes me about 6-8 weeks to write the first draft, but considering I took the month of December off, I think I did ok. I think the quickest I've ever finished a rough draft is 2 weeks. That time, the story just told itself. The longest? Well, I've been working on a rough draft of a western for about 2 years. I've got about fifty pages and for whatever reason, I can't seem to get into it. I think it's time to rethink that one.
So, I was feeling pretty good about myself. The month's rest paid off, I wrapped everything up and printed out my last chapter (I'm a print-by-chapter writer. I like to edit as I go, which is sometimes good, sometimes not so good.) Then I sat down to begin the first (rough) edit. That's when it hit me.
My damn book had no plot.
Yep - that's right. No plot. It was basically a string of events, a few steamy sex scenes thrown in (because who doesn't like a good sex scene every few chapters. I didn't count, but it seems to me my hero and heroine were naked more than they were dressed. We should all be so lucky.).
And that was it.
And I let this rattle around in my brain all day Tuesday, and laid awake Tuesday night, staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out how the hell did I write a whole book (100,000+ words) without a plot?
Then, Wednesday morning, it hit me.
My hero was with the wrong woman.
That's why there was no plot. There was no reason why my hero and heroine couldn't do anything but get together (over and over and over). There was no conflict. No reason to keep them apart (except for the dead earl, which was a really lame plot device, now that I think about it). Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
She was all wrong for him.
So what now?
That took all night Wednesday and into Thursday. But then I hit on it.
Scrap the book. Scrap the heroine. (The earl's still dead, but it doesn't matter, really. At least, I think it doesn't. I'll find out later in the book, I guess.) Keep the hero, but give him a woman who is totally, absolutely, completely wrong for him.
But he wants her anyway.
What a beautiful word. Now I have a plot. Whew.
Now I have to start the whole book over again. What a waste of time and trees. Sorry about that, Mother Nature.
But then again, maybe it wasn't such a waste. I thought the hero would be perfect with heroine A. And they were. But it was the wrong kind of perfect.
Heroine B is so not his type, it isn't funny. But that is the right kind of perfect. I started the revision yesterday and I've gotten three chapters done so far. I'm not 100% happy with them, but it is only a rought draft, so I have to let myself just write. For me, that's the toughest part. I want it to be perfect from the very get-go. Once I type The End, I think the whole thing sucks. I hate thinking the whole thing sucks, but I do it each and every time. Then when I rewrite, it gets a little less suckier.
In the case of Heroine A, it was sucky no matter what. And there was no way to fix it. I can't believe it took me until the end of the book to realize that, but there you have it. It's kind of a shame, really, because hero and heroine A had some really steamy scenes going on there, but I think I'll be able to find a way to incorporate at least one or two into the new book.
So, it's back to the drawing board with this one. Hopefully I'll have the first draft done by around Valentine's Day (all together now... awww). With any luck, it'll be ready to go by late spring. The one good thing is that all of the research is done (well, most of it is, anyway) so that leaves just the story.
And the lovely conflict.
We'll see... I know the basics, but I don't know where they are going. My characters tend to take on a mind of their own, which is why I don't outline. I've tried. It never works. I wonder, if I had, would I have figured out that heroine A had to go? I don't know. I do know that I've tried the outline thing for other books and ended up feeding it to the shredder. Maybe I should try again.
But for now, I think my hero is exactly where he should be, and so is the heroine. It took me two days to come up with her and their problems. Now I just need to get it on paper and then take a real good look at it. With any luck, he'll be with the wrong woman for right reasons instead of with the right woman for no reason.