Life Inside the Writing Tunnel

Fantastic Trees - Tunnel of Love with fairy light afar, magic background
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I’ve spent the past few months back inside the writing tunnel. The writing tunnel is that magical place where my stories are created. Okay, it’s actually a den I converted into an office, or even the occasional hotel room, but nevertheless, the writing tunnel is where I go to let my imagination take over and create my stories.

Readers tell me it’s hard to put my books down. And you all should see it from my end. I get up each morning and try to put in a little writing time before getting bogged down with all the “real job” stuff. Then, in the evenings, instead of watching television, I’m back into my manuscript, working out the next scene, or the next chapter, or creating a new character. It’s so much fun. I just wish I could figure out why I’m still paying for cable. Must be for those times when I’m not writing.

Sometimes people ask me how I do my job. Do I work out a detailed outline first and then follow it verbatim? Or do I just sit down and start writing? It’s a little bit of both actually. First I’ll write a treatment, or short plot summary. It’s not too specific and it’s only a few paragraphs in length. It’s my idea for the basic story concept, but not much else. I use it mainly to get the story started, and so I’ll have a rough idea of how it will end. Once I start writing the actual story I set the treatment aside and go where the characters take me. Then, when I’m finished with my story, I’ll go back and look at the original treatment. Without exception, it’s remarkably different from the finished novel, and sometimes the ending will be different as well. Someone once said life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I think the same could be said for good story writing.

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