- Use what I've already got
I'll be honest and admit I didn't figure this one out myself. My lovely friend Nikki Logan introduced me to this concept when I got really stuck about three quarters into the manuscript (the "right" version, for those who read Part One). My hero and heroine had just made love for the first time, and I'd written this lovely "morning after" scene. But... now what? I knew what my black moment was, but it was far too early for that. I knew I needed to show both my hero and heroine's reactions to this first night together and how nothing could ever be the same again... but the scene I was writing just felt boring.
I'd made the mistake in a previous version of the book of adding in a random plot twist ("ooh, let's have my heroine's mum turn up!"), so I knew that didn't work. But I needed *something* to happen. Something that wasn't contrived but that would keep the tension rolling along nicely.
And so Nikki said, "Didn't Sophie say in the previous chapter something something, why don't you use that?" (I'll let you read the book to find out what it was). This was a massive lightbulb for me. I'd had no idea I'd already set up the absolutely perfect scene (yay for my subconscious!) but I never would have noticed without Nikki's prompting.
But of course, it makes perfect sense. By looking back what you are really doing is revisiting your characters - and their conflicts and motivations. By making sure you use something you've already got, you're ensuring it's the characters that are driving the story forward.
While I was fortunate to have a throw away line of dialogue to set up my next scene, I'd imagine that this probably isn't always the case. But I think the lesson still stands. Next time I get stuck, in a "what happens next?" moment, I'm going to go back and review what's come before. What have my character's already done? What have they talked about? What has happened? What would they do next?
So what do you think? Am I onto something here? (with apologies to Nikki who I have stolen this from - and quite possibly butchered in my expansion and explanation :) ).
And... now for the big news!
In about two hours, I become a LoveCat!!! I feel incredibly fortunate to have been invited to join the LoveCats - a group of Australian and New Zealand Harlequin Mills & Boon authors who have the fabulous LoveCats Down Under blog!
My official welcome post will appear very soon, where I get to answer some fun questions, and visitors get the chance to win an awesome book bundle prize!
Please come along and say hello - I'll be popping in as much as I can tomorrow.