Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Accidental Alphas

If you are considering a possible ingredients list for a romantic suspense, an alpha hero is definitely on it The makings of a classic alpha usually involve the guy's job - the military, some variety of law enforcement, black ops, a private organisation that provides specialist security services ... All those are catnip for a romantic suspense writer. A hero with an unusual skill set, who can look after himself and, if necessary, the heroine, who has an edge to him, possibly a troubled or murky past, but is still ultimately one of the good guys. Like I said, catnip, and somewhere I really want to go back to.

I have to say though, that the last romantic suspense, What Happens at Christmas, and the two new drafts that are at present warming up on the runway, do not have classic alpha heroes. For reasons of plot,I seem to have got into a run of what might be called accidental alphas - guys who have found themselves in situations that call for something way beyond their regular comfort zone. 

I must admit that I have found it a bit disconcerting, as I have always considered the alpha hero a given. Without a hero who is law enforcement or whatever, the author has to work harder to establish credibility. With Drew from WHAC that came in the reckless stunts he throws himself into, in the name of research. In draft mark two, the hero knows he is putting himself in danger because ... No, I'm not telling you why, it'll spoil the plot. The guy I am having the most trouble with is Ethan, the hero of what will probably the next suspense, which at the moment is called Where Were You That Night? He's a reclusive musician, and there is a definite streak of Beauty and the Beast in there, but he is not your regular alpha. I'm still not quite sure where he came from and what he and I are doing together. He does come with a lot of baggage though. And you know I love baggage. I think we may be looking at tormented, rather than alpha, this time around. Can I do that? I hope so. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Going Back to the Compost Heap

One of the most useful pieces of practical advice, that is often given about writing, is to let a piece of work compost for a bit, before doing anything else with it. I've always tried to do that, even if, when I was working, that was only the space of the time it took to boil the kettle or make a phone call.

At the moment though, I have composting at extreme ends of the scale. I am going back to work that was done BWT - Before Writing-up Thesis, which means it is edging into over a year since I last touched it. This is quite interesting, as there is stuff there that I don't remember at all. I also have trouble reading my writing, which adds an element of exciting discovery to the process. Some of the pages are a bit like those letters described in Regency romances where the writer did not want to pay to post two sheets of paper so has written all round the edges. And then there are the cryptic notes that say 'insert' with a choice of two or three lines that are supposed to go in. But in what order? It must have made sense at the time ...

On the large level, things have clearly been working in the back of the brain, however. At the moment the WIP is editing the next rom-com, provisionally titled A Wedding on the Riviera. There are several plot lines in there which I know I want to change, which have clearly refined themselves during the gap.

Possibly the most interesting of all is what will probably be the next romantic suspense. Quite a lot of the beginning is written, and I have taken it to a RNA Chapter workshop and got favourable feedback, but the end was always a bit murky, to the extent that I was planning on it ending up as a novella. Since I have been thinking about it, without the Second World War getting in the way, I can see that threads that are established at the beginning clearly have to be worked out, and will be on a much bigger canvas. It was all there, but I just didn't see it. That sounds crazy, because I wrote it and I must have always have intended the way it would work out, but there was only a gap, where the plan should be. The bits and pieces are coming together now, and I'm looking forward to putting it all together. Not for a while yet though. It's going to get a bit longer to compost before it gets its moment.