There are stories in my treasure chest that refuse to be completed, for one reason or another. One, LAKE EFFECT, has bedeviled me for several years. Gerald, the father, has never decided if he will be dead (enabling his rambling daughter to sell the house and move on) or alive (chaining her to a life of servitude, shuffling between the old house and the nursing home)?
Worse, what of my two lovers? Nicole is a devoted girlfriend, with an overseas boyfriend. She just doesn’t know he has wandering eyes. Sam is being pursued by a girlfriend-wanna-be in relentless pursuit of his favors. I’ve loved writing Desmond’s and Tara’s scenes – as the unfortunate foils for my hero and heroines, they’re both such worthless material as potential mates and so completely clueless.
Occasionally I struggle with midnight “monkey mind” as I wrestle again with the frustration of seeing this story complete and finding readers. There are other stories I’m writing, or trying to write, but LAKE keeps rearing its head. The one that got away. It’s hard to let go, ya know?
So, this morning, I was helping Brain with his preparation for NaNoWriMo. We found, and printed, a ten page document from Susan May Warren (www.mybooktherapy.com) outlining Ten Beats of a Romance. In Beat 3, she discusses with the challenge of Why/WhyNot and WhyNot/Why in a blossoming relationship. In one, the situation where I most often place my characters, they understand why they can’t get together and gradually fall in love in spite of the barriers. But in the WhyNot/Why, the characters feel an instant connection. Only later are they aware of just how wrong this is.
Okay, my mind said. Let’s play “what if?” Nicole and Sam instantly hit it off. They get each other, their little hearts go pitty pat, they’re a thing, they’re in it for the long haul. But what about those inconvenient other lovers? How do I move them aside?
I didn’t have any problems disposing of Desmond, the cheating boyfriend; he breaks up with Nicole before the story gets too far along. But what about Tara? She just wants to get married and make babies. She has the rings picked out, the wedding party, rehearsal and ceremony planned. All she needs is for Sam to pop the question and call the realtor. How do I get rid of her?
So, friends, this is my question: how do you give your hero permission to step out on his girlfriend when she has the noose as firmly tied around his neck (whoops, ring on his finger) as one woman can manage in 200 pages? Mind you, Tara needs to make her not-so-graceful exit at the end of novel, along with Desmond – who makes a late entrance to eat crow (happily, he is unsuccessful).
Is there a rule for a boyfriend whose heart has never been fully involved to be allowed to touch the goods before the others are returned? How do we handle this?
(In another post, which I started before writing this, I’ll talk about characters that refuse to make up their minds – which happens all too often in this writer’s world)