Starting a New One…

I’ve been thinking about Book #2 of the Texas Royalty series for about two months now, sort of trying to get into the heads of the characters. So this week, I sat down and started to put a few words on paper.

In many ways, creating people  is a fun part of writing a book. Since my books are character-driven stories, I give the story people a lot of thought. My heroes are all alpha men who have to be heroic, even if they sometimes aren’t that likeable at first blush. Luke McRae in THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, for instance. My heroines have to have the strength of character to be worthy of the heroic hero, which is sometimes more challenging than creating the hero.

I usually start by building the hero’s family tree. I try to take it back two or three generations. In that span of time, a lot can happen to alter and re-make the lives of family members. My books are contemporaries, so I have to address in my mind the different historical and political events that influenced my hero’s ancestors as well as current events. Because indirectly, those things would influence how he was raised and the environment in which he lives in the present.

For example, hero Bob might have a grandfather who could have been at Pearl Harbor, or might have been a soldier in WWII. Or he might have been a casualty of WWII. If so, this occurrence might have left Bob’s grandfather’s widow less well off and she became a penny-pincher. Thus, it might influence how she raised Bob’s  mother or father, which would then influence Bob in some small way.

Or Bob might have a father who’s an embittered Viet Nam vet addicted to drugs and alcohol, which would bring yet another set of challenges  into Bob’s life and influence his attitude. …..  Or someone in his family might have a lingering or fatal disease, which would bring something different to his life.  Or maybe one of his relatives won the lottery!  There are also natural disasters to consider. You get the idea.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those storytellers who can just pluck an idea out of the air and build a story. All of my stories are rooted in characterization. From there, the synergy, where one ingredient evolves from another, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and plot all come together  organically. My story people are grounded in realism. I feel it makes them more interesting and gives them more depth. It also supports the premise from which I write. I wish I could write fantasy, which is so popular now, but it just doesn’t come to me.

So there you have it. My book skeleton. And hopefully, by the time I’m finished with all of this fussing, I’ll have the makeup of the story people fixed in my head and can move forward. Hopefully, those pesky characters won’t jump up and surprise me on page 300 and cause me to have to re-write the whole book.

If you’re still reading this, I know most of your are probably groaning and rolling your eyes by now, and thinking I’m crazy. In fact, as I write about this, I’m starting to think I’m crazy. But this process isn’t as convoluted and confusing as you might think and it doesn’t require as much detail as it seems to when describing it.

I should add that I don’t consider myself an expert and am not trying to tell anyone else this is the way to approach beginning a book, but after sixteen books, I’ve sort of accidentally developed an almost system that works most of the time.

Wow. And that sentence falls into the same category as a “definite maybe.” LOL

Anna

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

4 responses to “Starting a New One…

  1. I love hearing about the process writers use to build their stories. Keep up the great work, I can’t wait to begin reading the series again.

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  2. Peggy Jane

    I have all the Dixie Cash books. I haven’t ventured into any of your other publications. Guess I better get started. My patrons and I have absolutely moaned and groaned over the loss of Edwina and Debbie Sue. We are located about 2 hours NW of Midland/Odessa area and I grew up in Pecos; so those characters are right in our neck of the cotton fields and sand dunes. I just love this blog!!

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    • Thanks so much, Peggy Jane, for reading the Dixie Cash books. I miss those characters, too. They were outrageous and fun to write about and it was fun going back to West Texas in my imagination. … There were huge marketing mistakes with those books. If the publisher would have put them out as mass market paperbacks like they did the first one, I believe we would still be writing them. But as trade paperbacks, they just weren’t exposed to enough people and the $15 price tag didn’t help sales either. Authors have almost zero influence on what publishers do. Once they buy your book, they own it, you know, and can do whatever they like. These days, publishing houses are pretty much run by the marketing departments, so if the sales numbers don’t reach a certain level, it’s bye-bye author.

      The Anna Jeffrey books are steamy contemporary romances. They have been marketed as Westerns, although only two or three of them star cowboys. They’re mostly about people trying to solve the problems life hands them and trying to find a little happiness along the way.

      Thanks also for enjoying the blog.
      Anna

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  3. Thanks, Melody. You know what agony all of this is. LOL … Just a few days ago while driving to town, I was so lost in Pic Lockhart’s head, I almost ran over a car.
    Anna

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