I'm writing the first draft of my eleventh book.
It's pretty cool to look back at where I started so many years ago. I vividly remember the day I decided I would write a novel. In my bedroom, surrounded by tiny pink flowered wallpaper, Chante' Moore crooning on the radio, and a gentle, patient snow coming down outside, I sprawled on the floor and began filling a notebook with my book.
I vaguely recall it being set in Chicago and the "book" consisted of a series of dream dates--my idea of a perfect romance novel.
Within a few hours, I realized my error. If a man and woman only deal with dream dates, the book ends at page 22. This knowledge didn't stop me; it fueled my desire to get it right--to figure out how my favorite authors did it. How did they write such compelling books?
My engineering career and the early years with my babies led me on a detour from my writing, but I did finish my first book seven years later.
Now that I have ten completed books under my silver, square-linked belt, I know the danger of getting comfortable. I've only ever written one genre--romance. It's the only genre I want to write. Sure, I've dabbled in romantic suspense. I've written quite a few sweet romances for the mainstream audience. But my true love lies in my current genre: contemporary romance for the Christian market.
To keep my new book fresh, I tried a different plotting method, but by chapter three I found myself writing a scene and feeling that something wasn't quite right. After a long session of trying to determine the problem, I realized the plot progression felt familiar. I'd done something similar in a previous book.
Out came my new writing craft book, The Story Structure Architect, recommended to me by Jessica R. Patch. It's not a read-straight-through-book. It's more to help you make decisions about where your book should go. The "situations" section in the final half of the book really helps with this. I read through two situations and inspiration struck.
In some ways, writing a book is easier now that I have years of experience. The writing itself is better, and I trust my instincts. But in many ways it's a lot harder. I have to challenge myself to find new twists, to come up with more unique plots. And, I'm always learning. Always will be learning.
Have you found yourself copying yourself--or another author--with your current plot? How do you keep your plots fresh?
Have a terrific Monday!