I'm delighted to have, Jade Lee, visiting with us today Over Coffee. Her stories have brought me quite a few hours enjoyment.
Jade's topic today is all about surprises our characters present when writing a story. Even those writers who don't plot have certain story points and the ending in mind when they start. Having Jade discussing how her stories surprise her, certainly explains a few things I didn't see coming, but thoroughly enjoyed as I read.
There's a moment in every story that surprises me. In the previous book (What the Bride Wore), it was when the hero Grant refused to tell his brother why he'd been missing for five years. I'd expected that information to come out early in the book, but he just stuck to his silence until a pivotal moment later.
Like many of my books, Wedded in Scandal had a delightful character as a surprise. For those who have read it, Edward wasn't supposed to be there at all, and yet he was so amazing, he became the hero of Engaged in Wickedness. But this book's surprise was a first for me. In What the Groom Wants, the startling moment was the entire back third of the book. Yeah, the ENDING was surprise.
Seriously, my reaction as I was writing it was WTF? But sometimes (rarely) the words just flow and I was typing something that felt right even if it had nothing to do with my outline.
So here's what I planned: Radley my hero finally faces off with the villain Damon and he defeats the bad guy in a show of manly prowess. We've all seen that before, right? It's a good, classic ending to a romance novel. I wrote it down on my outline and that's what my editor expected.
But what actually appeared on the page had my editor calling me to say, "This is not what we discussed, is it? Nevermind, I don't care. I love this ending, but I never saw it coming."
Neither did I, but the more I looked back at it, the more it made sense. My heroine, Wendy, is a woman who bargains to survive. As in: I'll give you A, if you give me B. And if you don't cheat me, we'll both come out ahead. That's great, but she's a seamstress in love with a duke. (He wasn't a duke when they met. In fact, in his heart, he's still just a seaman). So how does she make herself the equal of our hero?
My plan was that she finally just gets over herself. She says, "hey, if I'm what you want, then I love you too." Again, that's a classic romance moment. But Wendy ended up being too strong for that. She set about systematically making herself the equal of a duke. How does she do that?
SPOILER ALERT: She takes over a financial empire. She just...flat takes it over. With the aid of the constable and his men, a Cardinal in the Church of England, and quite a few of the previous book's people, she organizes a coup that lets her bring a great deal of money and power to the marriage. Suddenly, she becomes a good bargain for a duke.
So the ending became Wendy using all the myriad different characters I'd set up in the previous books and creating the future she wanted. With Radley's help in the end. And a great deal of love.
Honestly, I would like to think I was smart enough to plan this on my own. No such luck. I hadn't even expected the other characters to make an appearance, much less show up in the final scene ready to defend our heroine to the death.
But sometimes, writing just works that way. Divine inspiration or luck, I don't care. I just hope it happens again.
- Writers: Have you ever had a story surprise you by taking a different path than what you had planned?
- Readers: Do you like stories that take you by surprise?
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WHAT THE GROOM WANTS
An honest love...
Radley Lyncott has been in love with Wendy Drew as long as he can remember. When he went to sea, she was too young to court. Now that he’s returned to take up his Welsh title, he is appalled to find that debt has ruined the Drew family, and—even worse—Wendy is being courted by another man.
Or a dangerous attraction?
Available in stores February 2014
USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been scripting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ball gowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 30 romance novels and winner of dozens of industry awards, she finally gets to play in the best girl-heaven place of all: a Bridal Salon! In her new series, four women find love as they dress the most beautiful brides in England. Lee lives in Champaign, Illinois.
You can find Jade:WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, GOODREADS, TWITTER.