How A Premise Becomes A Work-in-Progress

Tomorrow I start putting words to paper on my new story. Well, actually I start typing words into a word document. Same thing, only easier. That saying starting an 85K story is ever easy.
It’s been a good six years since I wrote something new from scratch and I never did finish that one. (I will, one day) So it’s taken me awhile to get back into the brainstorming/researching/writing groove. I have to admit I struggled quite a bit with a process I usually love doing and I worried that maybe my mojo had taken a permanent vacation. But I was just being too hard on myself (what a surprise). I was fighting a cold, dealing with all sorts of pressure at work, while trying to prepare for and enjoy the Christmas season. I’m on track now and keen to get going.
With previous stories (I’ve written five and a half), my characters usually came to me fairly well-formed and the plot also was clear enough that if I couldn’t actually write a synopsis, I at least had a multi-point plan to follow. And usually my theme was strong enough that I could come up with a title almost immediately. As the stories progressed I’ve occasionally veered away from the plan, sometimes just a little, sometimes drastically. But I generally stayed true to my characters because I knew them inside out. I knew what they’d do or not do, and why.
This story is going to be about Maggie Lapage, coworker to Joely Sinclair in Show No Weakness. Both my editor and I really liked her and think she deserves her own story. I know Maggie’s character quite well, even though she didn’t play that big a part in Show No Weakness. I know her back-story and I have all her character strengths and weaknesses pinned. Maggie’s a bit of a well-intentioned busybody and that’s bound to cause a few problems, especially when she meets the proud and fiercely independent man I have in store for her.
Surprisingly, I don’t really know Tom, my new hero, all that well yet. I know his name, what he looks like, his background, but I’m just starting to get a handle on his character. As I did research for this story, I discovered what type of character would work best for the possible scenarios. I find I’m going to have to fit the character to the premise, which is quite a detour from my usual pattern. And the real scary thing is, I don’t really know the plot yet. I only have a couple of ideas for what I want to happen and a couple more that might work or I might discard depending how things shake out.
I’ve been mulling this story over for several weeks, coming up with many different scenarios, and discarding each in turn. Neither of my characters are as emotionally wounded as I usually make at least one of them (I do love a tortured character). Maggie carries the most baggage from her past, and Tom will have the biggest current crisis. I really like the premise I’ve settled on and I hope it proves to be an emotionally satisfying read. If nothing else, my stories have to have a strong emotional element to them.
Although I have no title, not even an inkling of one, and regardless of whether I know all the ins and outs, whether my characters are as well-formed as I’d like, it’s time to start this story. My characters are talking to me, which is a very good thing, and as long as they continue to do this, I can feel my way along with confidence that everything will become clearer as I go.
I’m excited and eager to get to know my characters better, to learn their story and eventually share it with everyone else. Wish me luck. 🙂


3 thoughts on “How A Premise Becomes A Work-in-Progress

  1. Pingback: The Year in Pictures | joyceholmes

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