Wednesday, February 19, 2014


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?



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?

Family comes first for seamstress Wendy Drew, who is forced to settle her brother’s debt by working nights at a notorious gambling den. But her double-life hasn’t gone unnoticed—she has captivated none other than Demon Damon, a nefarious rake who understands Wendy’s darkest desires and is hell bent on luring her into his arms.

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:


Jo said...

I love the idea of characters taking over someone's book. I have heard lots of authors talk about it and, not being an author, have never experienced this, but as a consummate reader I can imagine it, some characters I read about are much too strong not to insist the book goes their way.

Liz Blocker said...

Oh yes, I know that feeling - when the characters just won't cooperate with your vision! The best moments sometimes come out of these surprises, as with your ending :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love it when the characters just kind of take over like that! It doesn't happen very often to me in the stories I've written for traditional publication, but in my fanfiction it has and it's great. I think that's because I am looser and more relaxed about the fanfiction -- it's all an experiment, all about throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. But I think that when characters surprise the author, then it's much more likely that the characters will surprise the reader too. And that's wonderful.

Robin said...


I am experiencing a bit of this in my current WiP. I wrote the ending right after the beginning. However, I ended up changing the middle so significantly that the ending is now going to require a rewrite. Characters I didn't expect popped up and other characters did things I didn't see coming either. Maybe those things are the gifts of writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes they end up planning themselves. That's cool your ending surprised you - and everyone else. My third book did that to me when a minor character suddenly became pivotal to a new and better ending.

Chelle Sandell said...

There have been quite a few instances where I'd envisioned a scene but a character had other ideas and took me in different directions. I love when my characters talk to me. I think it helps my flow. ;) LOVE Jade Lee books!! Thanks for the interesting post.

Johanna Garth said...

I love surprises in books, both my own and other people's!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo--There have been some strong characters in a few books I've read that I'm sure gave the author fits, lol!

Liz--I agree that some of the best moments come from those surprises. Sometimes we focus so much on what we plan to happen that we forget we've created a set of characters with goals and motivations. I've noticed that those characters either having throwing pencils across the room and cursing or they grab hold of your creative throat and shake you. 'Listen stupid writer, I wouldn't do that!'

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sara--relaxing and going with the flow. As a reader I tell when a writer had fun in the writing and that sense fun and joy comes across.

Robin--I'd say so.

Alex--I LOVED that not so minor character! Glad you listened. :-)

Hey Chelle! Glad to see you. I love Jade's stories, too. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Johanna--me too!

Glittergirl said...

I adore being surprised by a book. I read only romance (all types) and they can get predictable. My favorite authors are the ones that craft a surprising story, ones that have things come out of left field that I never saw coming. <3 this story so much and I REALLY look forward to reading it! Thanks for the post and giveaway Jade!

jmcgaugh said...

It depends on the surprise! Generally, I do like to be surprised, but there have been times when I didn't like the surprise direction a story has gone.
jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

Jade Lee said...

Sorry for the delay in checking in. It's been one of those days! Anyway, I agree with everyone. It's great when we get surprises. But some surprises are better than others! Keep the comments coming. I am reading them. I'm just got pesky revisions dragging at my focus too!

Elise Fallson said...

I love those little surprises when I write. Granted, it doesn't happen very often for me, but it is incredible when it all comes together unexpectedly. Great to meet you, Jade. What the Groom Wants sounds like a great read!

Thanks for the post, Sia. *waves* :)

Carrie Butler said...

Oh, I love it when a story takes off in a new direction! It rekindles my passion for writing. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Glittergirl, tried and true story structure is a good way to build a story but it's always great, as a reader, to have characters do something you didn't see coming. :-)

JM--A good writer builds the anticipation for the unexpected. If they don't the ending or event certain events don't ring true and then, as a reader, we're disappointed or disgusted.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jade, glad you could stop in. If I had known you were in the middle of revisions I'd have mentioned it and that you would stop by when you could.

Looking forward to your next story. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hi there Elise! Mine have taken a few surprise turns and yes, I do like when that happens and it fits with the characters and story. Gives a nice feeling of satisfaction.

Carrie--yep, it gets you excited again about the story.