So this is what it’s like. I have a brilliant – brilliant! – idea. This is going to be the best romance ever written. It will make readers laugh, it will make them cry. It will make them sigh with satisfaction as they close the book. It will win RITAs and rave reviews. It will be on keeper shelves around the world. Oh, yes, this time I’m going to get it so right! Eat your heart out, Nora Roberts.
Then it’s the development phase, working with my highly trained team of plot advisors to thrash out detailed character back stories over a few sessions at City Screen, in coffee shops or on long walks. By the end of this phase I know who my hero and heroine are, why they are the way they are, and what drives them. I know what they want, and why that’s so important to them, and I know the situation that is going to force them together and bring their goals into conflict. I’m a bit hazy about how the plot is going to work after that, true, but it’s time to get writing.
I rattle off a rough draft. Maybe 25 or 30 pages. This is so rough it lacks punctuation, articles, and often meaning, and is peppered with questions to myself (Why????) or notes as to where obviously expansion will be needed (kiss+++++) The sole purpose of the rough draft is to fill some pages so I’m not facing an entirely blank screen and to start to get a feel for where the characters are and what they’re doing.
But in spite of that, I am feeling a million times better. The story is working at last, my characters have come to life and I’m WRITING!
And I can keep Douglas in Whiskas until the next time – phew!