Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

by Stephanie Black

I’m going to try to do this fast, because I’ve got a heroine in serious peril right now and I really want to get back to her. I’ve hit the point in my draft where events are about to go rollercoastering toward the climactic final confrontation, and if I could, I’d put everything else on pause (dinner, laundry, blinking, breathing) and just write the rest of the book. I don’t know exactly how the climax will unfold—I never know the specifics until I write them—but one thing I do know is that the heroine needs to do most of the work herself. There is a hero in the book, with big biceps and all, but I’m going to keep him scrambling to catch up with her until she’s kicked some villains around on her own. She’s got a terrible problem with self-confidence and has spent the book being manipulated and tricked, so now it’s time for her to stand up for herself, say “no more!” and thwart evil. The guy with the biceps will show up at some point and I’ll give him something interesting to do—maybe he can clonk a bad guy with his gentle yet mighty fist. But not until the heroine has proved herself.

Once she has triumphed—and she will; I can’t stand depressing endings—then the good guys can relax and recuperate after their adventures, which is more than I’ll be able to do, since I’ll have one heck of a messy first draft on my hands and will need to jump directly into revisions. I’m estimating that this draft will end up around 300 pages, which is amazingly short for me. My previous first drafts have ended up around 500 pages. This new novel is contemporary suspense, a different type of novel than I’ve written before, so it’s a fun new challenge. Right now I’ve got a spaghettied mess of backstory that needs to be untangled, plenty of foreshadowing that needs to be shadowed, and a bunch of scenes that need to be added, trimmed or trashed. As for the characters, some of them are taking shape, but most of them look an awful lot like those paper people on popsicle sticks that I made for my Sunbeam class a couple of weeks back. Actually, my book is a lot like a Sunbeam class right now—random and wiggly with occasional screeching.

So I’m off to write my heroine into some more peril. Right now she’s got a vengeful, semi-crazy villain waving a gun at her while the clock ticks away on her friend’s life, and that’s not the worst she's going to face before the night is over. Plus, I think it’s going to rain. Okay, maybe the rain is a bit much, but a little atmosphere never hurt. Just ask Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Or Snoopy.


At 8/09/2006 12:50 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

If it rains you have to promise not to have the bad-guy get struck by lightning.

I'm still bitter about that ending used by a national bestseller.

I can't wait to find out what/who yopur heroine is. Skip dinner and laundry and write!

At 8/09/2006 4:04 PM, Blogger KB said...

Stephanie, I hate people like you! You're as bad as my sister who, 6 months before my birthday, tells me she has just gotten me the coolest thing and I will really love it, and too bad I have to wait 6 months (or longer, in the case of a book) to see it. Aaarrrgghh!!

Okay, rant over. Can I volunteer to be one of your pre-submission readers? Please, please? Huh? Huh? (If I nag you enough, will you eventually give in?)

At 8/09/2006 4:57 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Snoopy's my hero! In my personal favorite of his novels he writes:

I love you, the boy thinks.

I love you, the girl thinks.

The dog thinks, Soon she'll be distracted enough to drop that leash.

Ah, Snoopy! Everything I know about romance and POV I learned from him!

At 8/09/2006 8:37 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Mean Aunt, rest assured that no character, good or bad, will get taken out by lightning. However, there is a really well-timed batch of baseball-sized hail and just as the bad guy raises his weapon . . . bonk.

Just kidding.

KB, I'm so sorry . . . well, maybe not. Actually I'm thrilled to know that you're interested in reading my book. I am now officially excited to finish this. And your offer of a pre-submission reading is verrrry tempting indeed . . .

Kerry, my sister gave me a copy of Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life, and it's solid gold. Snoopy is awesome.


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