Themes and Plotlines

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At long last, I’m finally in the home stretch for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and the theme for this novel would be things aren’t always as they appear to be.

Some of you may be wondering, what’s a theme? A theme is separate from the plotline. A theme is that underlying part of a story, such as the moral, or perhaps a comment about society or human behavior. I’ve posted the themes from my earlier novels below, but don’t worry. If you’ve not read all of them I won’t spoil the story.

ForgivenessThe Reunion. Ian was the one true love of Gillian’s life, but he suddenly ended their relationship for no apparent reason. If Gillian can forgive him, she stands a good chance of having a future with him. This theme carries over into a subplot concerning Ian and a member of his immediate family.

AdulteryThe Deception and The Betrayal. Adultery is a great theme for the romance genre, and it’s an opportunity to explore the repercussions for everyone involved, as it often affects more than the two primary parties. In The Deception, Carrie, a single woman, meets Scott, a married man who has presented himself to her as a single man. In The Betrayal, faithful wife Emily unwittingly catches her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Both women’s lives are turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control.

RevengeThe Journey and The Stalker. Life isn’t always fair, and we all experience times when things do go our way. However, it doesn’t mean that anyone intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes stuff simply happens. Unfortunately, there really are people out there who subscribe to the notion of don’t get mad, get even. In The Journey, Denise seeks revenge on Jeremy for having turned down her romantic overture years before, while Craig, in The Stalker, relentlessly hounds Rachel for getting a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve.

And those are my themes, so far. We’ll have to wait and what my next theme will be. Until then, happy reading.

MM

 

 

Killing Characters Off

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From time to time every novel writer has to deal with the (sometimes) unpleasant task of killing a character. It’s just one of those things that happens. Killing someone isn’t easy. (Well, at least some of the time,) but the only time I do it is when it’s necessary to enhance the plot.

This first time I killed someone off was when I wrote The Reunion. I must confess, it was a cathartic experience. Jason Matthews, Gillian’s ex husband, was one of the villains in the story. Interestingly enough, he was modeled after my real-life ex. Funny how these things happen. So poor Jason, (she writes tongue and cheek), meets an untimely end, and Gillian hears the story of his demise from a police detective. Did I mention that writing it was very cathartic? Afterwards I discussed it with several other lady authors. Many of them had also killed off their ex spouses–in the literary sense, of course. The lesson here, gentlemen, is if your wife or your girlfriend is an author, be nice to her. Your literary counterpart’s life may depend on it.

 I killed off another villain in The Deception. There were three villains in this story, two of whom were women. I killed one of the women, near the end of the story. Most of the plot had revolved around her conflict with Carrie, the leading lady. In the end, Carrie won battle, however this particular woman soon found a way to get even. Yes, I could have saved it for a possible sequel, but in this case the second conflict was directly related to the first, making a sequel redundant. So, rather than have the storyline repeat itself, I killed the character off, thus ending the conflict once and for all. Besides, she had it coming. I also thought about killing Scott, the deceptive male villain who inspired the title, but this character had children, and I didn’t want to orphan them. Scott would instead end up seriously injured. He too had it coming. However, unlike Jason in The Reunion, none of the villains in The Deception were inspired by anyone I know in real life.

In my soon-to-be released novel, The Journey, I killed a supporting character from The Reunion. This time around the character wasn’t a villain. She was a character I honestly liked and I tried to come up with a way for her to survive, but when I did the story just wasn’t as strong. Her death was an intricate part of the plot. It happens early in the novel, but she still manages to maintain a presence in the rest of the story when other characters reminisce about her, or when they describe the dreams they have about her. Like The Deception, The Journey also has three villains, one male, two female, but this time around I didn’t kill any of them. After all, I don’t want to become too predictable.

MM

The Original Plotline for THE REUNION

Reunion Loew CoverWebLike many authors, I write a treatment before I start writing the actual novel. A treatment is a brief written summary, a blueprint if you will, of who the characters are and what the story will be about. It helps solidify ideas and creates a starting point. Once I start writing, however, I put the treatment aside and let my characters loose. When the novel is complete, I’ll go back and look at the original treatment. To say the final story turned out differently would be an understatement. So, just for laughs, I’m posting what was in the original treatment for The Reunion. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but those who have will probably find this post a lot of fun.

Many of the main points from the original treatment were included the final novel, such as Ian showing up unexpectedly at Gillian’s opening at a Denver art gallery, and her returning to Denver later on to hide out from her homicidal ex husband. However, a subplot about Ian selling his house and moving into a condo with his son, Larry, never made it into the final version. Good thing too. It was boring and it did nothing to enhance the story. Likewise, many other scenes in the final novel were never included in the treatment, such as a pivotal moment when Gillian nearly drowns.

The most notable change, however, had to do with the characters themselves. Laura, Ian’s ex wife, was intended to be shy and demure. A savvy businesswoman, she ended up being anything but shy and demure. Laura speaks her mind. That’s why Jeremy is so direct.

And speaking of Ian’s oldest son–Jeremy was originally intended to be a villain. Aggressive, if not nefarious, Jeremy was to only have a small role before being written out. In the treatment, Gillian befriends him and he tries to force himself on her. She, of course, turns him down. Rejected, he soon enlists in the Marines and ends up being deployed to Afghanistan while a furious Ian blames it all on Gillian. Nah, that definitely wouldn’t have worked. Ian wouldn’t have had such an evil son. Then Jeremy told me he wasn’t a bad guy either, although he’s still drawn to Gillian. He would, instead, became a rival, rescuing Gillian and saving her life when she nearly drowns, then competing with his father for her affection. This created a whole new subplot which became the second half of the book. Many readers tell me it was their favorite part of the story.

The end of the story was fairly close to what was in the original treatment. Now I can’t tell you that because it would spoil it for the those who haven’t yet read the novel. Suffice to say that it all works out, and Gillian ends up with the right guy.

MM

No, I Don’t Do Formula Writing

No SymbolI got the nicest compliment from a woman who told me how much she enjoyed reading The Deception. She compared me to Nora Roberts, which I thought was very kind. Then she told me that unlike Nora Roberts, I don’t use formula writing. I’ll admit I haven’t read that many Nora Roberts books, but she told me that every Nora Roberts novel follows the same pattern, and that her books are very predictable. What she liked about The Deception was that it wasn’t predictable at all. The plot twists kept her attention and kept her turning the pages.

Well, what can I say? I strive to create realistic, three-dimensional characters, and I try to write life-like story lines, (albeit somewhat exaggerated.) As I write I tune into my character’s minds. I try to see what they’re seeing and to feel what they’re feeling. I’m concerned about the conflicts they’re facing, and how they’re going to resolve them. I simply can’t worry about having to have the leading lady met the leading man by page ten, or about having my climax occur twenty pages before the novel ends. That kind of rigidness would destroy my creativity as stifle me a storyteller.

Real life isn’t a formula, at least mine isn’t. In my world Murphy’s Law is alive and well, and I came from a family that knows how to put the fun in dysfunctional. That kind of a background can be a real inspiration for writing a good story, therefore my character’s lives don’t follow a pattern either. Murphy’s Law is alive and well in their world, just like in mine. Life isn’t predictable. Neither are my novels.

MM

It’s Jarring, Life Shattering, and It Can Happen in an Instant

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I’m starting to get feedback on The Deception.  For the most part it’s been good, with some minor criticism here and there, but that’s to be expected. After all, none of us can please all readers all the time. However, one comment I’ve received is about the sudden end to one of the characters. I’m told it was jarring and over the top.

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

I decided to kill one of the characters off in a traffic accident, and no, I don’t warn you about it. That’s because it’s one of those things in life that really does happen, without warning, for the victims or their survivors, and afterwards life is never the same. It’s a reality I know all too well. About ten years ago I lost a young cousin to a car crash. It was completely unexpected. One minute he was a healthy twenty-year-old man, and the next minute he was gone forever.  My own life hasn’t been the same since 1992, when I was sideswiped by an armored car going sixty-five miles per hour in a twenty-five mile per hour zone. I came around a bend, saw him coming at me from the opposite direction, and hit the accelerator, hoping I could get out of his way in time. Didn’t quite happen. I’m still alive, obviously, but it left me with a permanent injury. Twenty years later I’m still flabbergasted about how my life was changed so suddenly.

That said, my decision to kill one of my characters in a car accident may indeed seem over the top for some of you. Others, however, disagree. Since the character who is killed is one of the “bad guys,” I’ve also been told that the scene made them fell vindicated, and they thought it was the character’s “bad karma” that got them there.

Like it or not, it’s one of those over-the-top things that really does happen to people, and it happens all too often. I guess the point I’m making is to never take life for granted. It can, without warning, come to a sudden end.

My thought for the day.

MM