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Tag Archives: plotting

At the moment, I am in between historical releases. That is to say, I am working on My Immortals Book 7–No title yet. My next project will be another historical novella for a second anthology with Grace Burrowes, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen. I believe the anthology title will be Dancing in the Duke’s Arms, and we’re targeting a summer release. We’ve chosen a cover image already, but I have yet to write a word. Even though I have a story idea I’m really excited about.

My point, really, is that I have my head in the paranormal world not the Regency historical world. If I were to noodle around with my historical idea I’d end up with Dancing in the Demon Duke’s Arms. In the meantime, however, I have released my individual novella from Christmas in the Duke’s Arms. Here’s the cover:

In the Duke's Arms by Carolyn JewelAnd here is where you can buy it, if you don’t have the anthology:

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Google Play | Kobo | All Romance

It’s early days in my story process — seeing as how I haven’t started writing yet, and it’s entirely possible my story will end up completely different. I’m planning a heroine who is considered peculiar and unmarriageable because she never forgets a fact, and she knows lots of them. The hero will figure out what’s up with her and fall madly in love. The end. I’m telling you that’s more than I usually start with. I have a period book that is, more or less, a Farmer’s Almanack, and she’ll have read and remembered it all, so I’ll be referring to that quite a lot. The challenge, naturally, will be making sure her knowledge is period accurate. I foresee Google Books Advanced Search in my future.

I’m not a plotter, so I have to be careful about doing too much planning, or, perhaps another way to think about it is I need not to be wedded to any plot points that might come up before I start writing. I never know what the plot is until I’m done. Truth. So, though I would like to tell you all that my story will be about thus and such, the truth is, I have no idea. I’ll find out about halfway through the story. Possibly later.

For you readers out there, does the idea of an author having no idea what the book is about before she starts writing make you anxious?

My writers’ weekend was fantastic. We did all the usual things and even the weather cooperated. It was supposed to be gloomy and in the 40s, but we got sun and 50s. I was able to do my “thinking walks” and “thinking paddles” and my friends and I all got lots of writing done.

My output was over two chapters and over 5000 words, which is great for a slow writer like me. Note my nifty Progress Meter. Yes, this story will get done eventually, even if by then everyone will be sick of hearing about it. 🙂
Click to view daily statistics

I’ve also reached a spot where I’m no longer confident about what comes next. I’m usually a combination of plotter and pantser. I start with a plot and though I often deviate when a better idea hits, I’m always aware of the overall arc that I planned out at the beginning. This time, it feels different, as if the right ending is behind a wall of fog. I can’t see ahead and it’s a little unsettling. But one thing I’m taking away from this weekend is that I can trust these characters. I have a hunch that if I keep moving forward, one scene at a time, they’ll do better things than if I try to follow the outline.

It’s a little weird and a little scary, but it also feels like some sort of breakthrough. Or is it the euphoria a bungee jumper feels just before she realizes the cord is a tad long?

Have you ever felt a compulsion (for which you can find no rational basis) to do something differently than you have in the past?  Did it work out for you?  I hope some of you say yes!

Last night I dreamed I was in a car crash, nothing serious, just an annoying fender bender, but it felt very real.

Then, today, when I drove to the post office … nothing happened. Did the dream make me more careful? Or, did the dream mean nothing at all, but it was one of those rare ones that I remembered? It certainly made a change from the ones where I’m looking for a bathroom and when I find one it has glass walls and is situated on Paddingston Station in London during rush hour.

I often wish I could dream plots, because I have so much trouble with them. The closest I’ve got is having things click into place as I’m falling asleep and my brain is doing whatever it does at that point–beginning some sort of unwinding process that may be part of the dream process.

But years, decades ago, before I even thought of writing I had an extraordinarily vivid dream which was entirely third person, in that it wasn’t about me but I was the observer.Now, on the occasions when I revisit the dream, I’m the incompetent manipulator. I suspect it was the plot of a book I read or started reading and never finished, so if anyone can identify it, that would be fascinating. On the other hand, the plot devices might be from any number of books.

The heroine is a courtesan in late-ish nineteenth century … somewhere. Not England, not the Regency, somewhere eastern European. Her current official lover is an officer who is not always around because he’s engaged in some sort of futile military silliness but he comes into town occasionally and usually finds her with a drawing room full of lefties and poets and intellectuals. I borrowed bits of this for Dedication, my first book; I think it may also have its origins in minor characters in Tolstoy.

So he falls in love with a sweet young thing who the family want him to marry as his duty etc. (Kitty and Levin in Anna Karenina? Who knows). He tells the heroine, who isn’t too pleased, and asks if she’ll return a necklace he gave her. Because, and he really shouldn’t have done this, he gave her the family jewels (pause for other English people to recover from their merriment). She doesn’t say yes but she doesn’t say no either, and at this point I get stuck.

In some versions of the dream, she stages a grand revenge when she flings the necklace at his feet at the opera in front of the fiancee. And I think that probably is from an opera, but I don’t think I’d ever write a heroine who behaves badly in such an unsubtle way. Or, in other versions, it becomes A Scandal in Bohemia, which features the fascinating adventuress Irene Adler:

To Holmes, she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex…

In other words, she’s smarter than the male protagonists and surrenders the necklace only when a reciprocal sacrifice has been made. At this point I surrender to my usual plotting technique (if it can be described as such) and start considering other characters: the newspaper editor who is the heroine’s rebound affair; the fiancee–does she have any idea what lover boy has been up to? If there’s a revolution, which sometimes there is, who is on which side?

And I must digress here and ponder the photograph in which Irene Adler and the King of Bohemia appeared, and how it was enough to throw the whole delicate balance of Europe into disarray. Was it, gasp, a naughty photograph? Is that why Holmes wanted to keep it, to while away the long hours when Watson was tending to his mostly neglected patients?

Anyway, let’s talk about dreams. Have you dreamed things that have happened? Do you dream about characters when you’re reading or writing a book? Do you recognize “my” plot?

In this special All Contests All The Time edition, there’s still a few days to enter the contest on my site, and a new one where I ask for help in vampire terminology at Supernatural Underground. Also you can enter to win a copy of Jane and the Damned at Goodreads.

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