I’m such a plotter with my books, that I usually know exactly what is going to happen and when. I spend weeks before I start a story, determining the internal and external goal, motivation and conflict of my hero and heroine. Then I figure out what would keep them apart both physically and emotionally. Once I have that down, I do what I call a blueprint for my book. I start with Chapter One and cover every scene in an in-depth outline.
Only then can I sit at my computer and start writing.
The current book I am writing, tentatively called “Return to Wylder” is a contemporary romance set in Wylder, Wyoming. It’s part of the Wylder West series published by The Wild Rose Press where most stories take place in the late 1800s. Since I don’t write historical, I’m doing a present day story for the series.
I created my usual blueprint, but as I’m writing the story, I keep changing it. In reviewing what I’ve written, I’m not happy with the insufficient amount of conflict between the hero and heroine. So I must fix it. But I’m stuck.
So, here is what I do to get unstuck.
READ OTHER BOOKS
My first attempt to remedy the situation is to read or re-read other romances, especially ones that I loved. What made that book a page turner and how can I translate that to my story? If I don’t know what to read, I look to see which books won romance writers’ awards recently—especially those judged by readers.
RESEACH MY SPECIFIC ISSUE
Next, I look to my own library of craft books. I have writing books on everything from “Revising Fiction” to “Creating Characters Emotions” to “20 Master Plots.” I also do an internet search for my specific problem and dozens of articles pop up. I sit down, read what is applicable, and take notes. As I’m reading, I apply their words of wisdom to my story, my characters, and the wheels start turning.
While this might sound like a procrastination tactic, it’s not. To learn what works. I watch romance movies. There is always Hallmark, and I do fall into that rabbit hole, but I also research movies that come closer to what I’m writing. Since this story takes place in Wyoming, I searched for movies or television series that are set in similar locations. As a result, I just started watching “Heartland.” With a mere 14 seasons to catch up on, this may take a while but I’m loving it. And I can now see the gorgeous scenery in that area of the country as well as what it’s like to live on a horse ranch.
MEET WITH MY CRITIQUE GROUP
During the pandemic we have not met monthly as we did before, and I feel like I have lost a great resource. But they are a phone call or email away. To discuss and analyze my issues, I scheduled a Zoom meeting with them. We talked out the issues with my characters, along with their goals. This is by far one of the best ways to get unstuck. Coming up with different avenues for my characters to take or throwing out a myriad of issues for them to deal with will assuredly make my book richer and more nuanced.