I think I’ve finished my book A Most Lamentable Comedy. At least, I hope I’ve finished my book as I have to send it off before I leave for SF.
But I wanted to tell you about some odd things that happened with it, particularly in the last couple of weeks. Elena’s post last month about bears apparently lodged in my brain because the hero’s manservant suddenly reappeared, after quarreling with his master, with a dancing bear in tow. In fact the bear, a male called Daisy which is a very un-Regency type of name, did turn out to be a factor in the resolution of the plot.
There was also a scene, a sudden, wonderful surprise, where the heroine flies a kite.
But the main change was in what happened to the heroine. She’s about to be arrested for her debts when a duke steps in and saves her, on condition she becomes his mistress. Only he doesn’t intend for her to actually become his mistress–it’s a ploy to keep her out of the way of the hero (for various reasons). Now, originally, she didn’t realize what was going on and would wonder why the duke prefers to sit around talking to her about sheep and antiquities (his hobbies) rather than do anything else.
But as I got to know Caroline I realized that of course she’d know something was going on. She’s smart enough to smell a conspiracy (which it is, involving her friends) a mile off. And also, although my idea originally was to keep it a secret from the reader (which is why I’m not giving away huge amounts of plot here), I realized they’d want to know where the hero is. So I let everyone except the heroine, who works it out for herself, know and the hero is involved in the narrative by a series of letters that were lots of fun to write. (This is all about my entertainment, remember. Yep, it’s almost an epistolary novel here and at one point, if the editor allows, there’s a short play within the book.)
Lots of other things changed too, which is why I think it’s always wise to write a very short, vague synopsis.
Writers, tell us about something unexpected that happened in a book.
Readers, tell us about your favorite surprise in a book.
And come on over to the Wet Noodle Posse today where I’m blogging about how to remember names and faces, in preparation for Nationals and the Risky Breakfast on Friday morning (next week)!
MY LADY GAMESTER was originally supposed to have lots in it about the heroine, Atalanta, tracking down the three men who won her father’s fortune (or their heirs).
Guy #1 is the major villain.
Guy #2 was dead, and his son is the hero.
Heroine meets these two in the first scene, and runs into them both constantly thereafter.
But Guy #3 just didn’t want to be in the story! He kept not appearing. Not being there. Not answering his door. Or answering his door and then five seconds later slamming it in people’s faces.
Eventually I decided that Guy #3 was more or less an obsessive-compulsive paranoid, and therefore had become a recluse.
(Which certainly made him fun to write, in the rare scenes where he appeared!)
And I forgot to say — congrats on finishing!
I’m always happy to hear I have a new Janet book coming down the pike . . . Yea!!!
I always find that things happen unexpectedly when I write. Solutions to problems I didn’t know I had suddenly present themselves tied up in neat little fascicles. When I was revising Lord Sin one of the scenes I had to lose, cause it served no real plot purpose, was one that I loved. After I cut it, I was trying to figure out a more smash-bang opening, and it occurred to me that with a little re-working, that deleted scene was a perfect intro. Viola! The book opens with a wordless meeting of eyes and a rush of conflicting emotions. And I got to keep my beloved pugilists.
I guess a surprise to me as a writer was that my villian’s name is Dwight Wykham. Dwight (and no offense to any beloved Dwights out there) because I wanted a dorky first name and Wykham because, well, he’s a pretty slimy character what with the embezzlement and sleeping with his friend/business partner’s fiance the morning of their wedding. See – slimy.
As a reader the biggest surprise was in Teresa Mederios’ ‘Yours Until Dawn’ I didn’t see the twist until I was reading it and I nearly jumped out of my seat. Delish.
Congrats on finishing! I lurve your books, my dear!
Exuent, pursued by a bear. 🙂 The new books sounds fantastic, Janet, can’t wait to read it!
I love the unexpected things that happen when a book takes on a life of its own.
Congrats on finishing your book, Janet! It sounds fabulous. I love epistolary novels, and the idea of play with-in-a-book i wonderful. I plot my books out in a lot of detail in advance, but I often find when I get to a scene that the motivation that made perfect sense in the synopsis and notes, doesn’t work now that I’ve written thousands of words about these characters. So things shift. In “Secrets of a Lady,” I didn’t realize, until I got to the scene, that Charles wasn’t Colin’s biological father or who Colin’s biological father was. I had a brief “do I want to go there?” moment, and then I went with it. In my most recent book, a young couple appeared in the midst of an action sequence and became important secondary characters in the book and, I think, in the series.
I love these stories, ladies! It helps me to know that my characters aren’t the only ones who tend to run away with me!
Really looking forward to the new one, Janet. Congrats on finishing it!
I had a pair of Scottish deer hounds show up in chapter 17 of Lost in Love. They belonged to the hero and I had to go back and put them in. They just appeared out of nowhere when the hero needed someone to talk to about his suspicions that his new wife MIGHT be in love with a man who was younger than him, more handsome than him and a notorious rake! Dogs are very good listeners and Romulus and Remus ended up appearing in a few other scenes as well.
Now in The Raven’s Heart I THOUGHT I knew who did it and that he did it all by himself. Then up pops an accomplice, a very minor character with her own twisted ax to grind. That really was one of those “Wait a minute! Who’s writing this book?” moments.
Those unexpected moments are why I write. At least that’s how I justify the compulsion.
I love inspired surprises. They usually work in books because they come from somewhere beyond the analytical, where things are all tied together in cool ways we can’t see.
Biggest surprise as a writer…well, I was doing this work with a student on the hitting time of a discrete-time quantum walk on the hypercube, and we noticed that the probability failed to converge to 1, which led us to realize that graphs with nontrivial automorphism groups can have infinite hitting times due to the unitary evolution operator having a block-diagonal structure. I’m sure you all think that was surprising enough, but then we realized that a symmetric initial wavefunction would remain confined to an exponentially smaller subspace than a general state. You could have knocked me over with a feather after that!
Oh, and as a reader–when it turned out Mr. Rochester was hiding something. He seemed like such a straightforward kind of guy!
but then we realized that a symmetric initial wavefunction would remain confined to an exponentially smaller subspace than a general state. Gosh, those pesky symmetric initial wavefunctions… can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.
My biggest recent reader suprise was in Joanne Harris’s “Gentlemen and Players.” It really took me by surprise and knocked my socks off–if you’ve read the book, you’ll know exactly what I mean. But I’m not telling.
Louisa, I quite often have secondary canine characters appearing, too. They are such terrific plot devices.
Janet, congratulations on finishing and I’m delighted if my post on bears inspired that bit!
I usually write from an outline but my characters often surprise me. In SAVING LORD VERWOOD, the h/h got married in Brighton and had a disastrous (though funny, at least to me!) wedding night. I planned for them to travel to his estate in Cornwall (a pretty lengthy trip during the Regency) and consummate their marriage there. Well, not only did they not wait that long but the modest, virginal heroine was the one who changed her mind and jumped him. 🙂
Well, not only did they not wait that long but the modest, virginal heroine was the one who changed her mind and jumped him.
And who’s to blame her, Elena? He was HOT! 🙂
Oh, I LOVED Saving Lord Verwood! Uh oh, I feel a re-read coming on….
Thanks, Cara and Santa! (blushes)