Monday, May 30, 2016

The Learning Curve (#pnr #series #writing @AuthorLolaWhite)

By Lola White (Guest Blogger)

Hopefully, every writer that sits down to create a story will get better with every tale told. But it can be an arduous process. There are skills that can’t be taught on blogs about writing, you can’t learn them through advice, or even by reading others’ books. These resources might be helpful as a starting point, but, eventually, you have to find your voice and you have to learn for yourself how to share it.

Writing a series turned out to be akin to jumping into the deep end for me. It also puts my learning curve front and center, on display for all to see. When I started writing the Magic Matched series the concept was completely different, but it soon settled into what became Betrothed. I thought I would write one book, but I hadn’t even gotten halfway through Betrothed when I realized I would need many, many more words to tell the story in my head and in my heart.

I didn’t want some horribly long epic adventure, yet that was what my main plot needed. So I started planning, and realized that I would need four books. However, the story is about two witches, and four books about two witches, especially an erotic romance when the two witches are forbidden from having sex, seemed a little…drawn-out. Learning, learning! I added more depth to what used to be secondary characters, and gave them each prominent roles on the main stage, then broke the whole into manageable chunks. Two romance stories in each novel…

I also learned that the first in a series is a breeze. It’s a blank canvas, you’re making up the rules as you go. The second in the series isn’t too bad, either. It’s not yet complicated enough to have you drawing graphs, and if you write the first and second back-to-back like I did, everything is fresh in your mind. It’s a fairly fluid continuation. Looking back, however, I can see how those first two books were influenced by my love of Stephanie Laurens’ romance novels. They have a prose-y-ness that most of my other books have outgrown. (Not completely because I do love a good turn of phrase, but knowing what flowery phrases to keep is also part of the learning process.)

Then came the third book, Motherhood. Just released on May 17th, I’m amazed it wasn’t delayed indefinitely. I started writing the book just after the second. I’d written most of it when my brain shut off—which usually means my subconscious thinks something is wrong with my story. I put the book aside until I could figure out what was wrong with it…and going back was torture. I despaired, for the first time in my life. I thought I’d have to scrap everything and start over, and I had no idea how to do that, where to start that wouldn’t lead me to the same mess.

That’s part of the learning process, too—not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I wrote a summary of each chapter on index cards and laid them out on my floor. I’ve never done that before, and haven’t since, but I did what was necessary to get my story in good order so I could continue.

Then I got to the emotions. I would have told you that I wrote with emotion, mine were always close to the surface, but Motherhood touches fears I’ve shoved to the very back of my mind. The next step in an author’s evolution, the next rise on the learning curve, is finally digging in to the core of who you are. 
Some get there faster than others. You can write with passion, you can tell an amazing, engaging, best-selling story…but eventually, all true writers break through that emotional wall, and nothing is ever the same again.

For me, it turns out that Motherhood was not only the hardest to write in the series, being a crucial turning point for my main characters, but also The Wall. I was a wreck, but now I feel like I can tap into my emotions more freely than before, and yet they are no longer so sharp as they were with Motherhood. One of my fears is what I’ll do when I lose my grandmother—we’re very close. In Motherhood, Georgeanne has to ask herself the same question, as her grandmother is very ill. Another one of my fears is fully trusting a mate…I’ll freely admit to being a commitment-phobe. It’s hard to hand yourself over to another—mind, body and soul like all epic romances should be right?—but Christiana Davenold is being asked to do just that by her husband.

And then we get into the heart of things. For me, the reason I shy away from a deep commitments is because I don’t want to be hurt, of course. That’s why we all run, and those who stay are the bravest people I know. Georgeanne and Silviu are at a point in their relationship where it’s all or nothing, but betrayal lurks and forgiveness can be difficult. How much could you forgive…because the betrayal in Motherhood is deep and decisions about the future will have to be made.

Now I’m writing the last book of the Magic Matched series. (Don’t tell, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be done already!) And I’ve learned how far I’ve come. I’ve learned how to plot a series, how to connect all the dots and tie up all the loose ends. My style has changed, though I’ve tried to maintain a similarity to the other three books, and my voice became clearer. As a woman, I am more in touch with my emotions and more willing to risk them for great reward. As a writer, I have a firmer grip on my craft.

I’ve learned a lot, but it’s an ongoing process. I hope I never complete it.

Thank you Lisabet! For any who are interested in the Magic Matched series, you can find the first two books, Betrothed and Married, for a temporarily reduced price at Totally Bound and Amazon.

Magic Matched

Only magic and politics matter…until love comes into play

Silviu and Georgeanne must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to unlock their full magical potential. But with all that stands in their way—archaic traditions, murder plots, and a betrayal that threatens all they can be—they will need the group of allies they have built to help them navigate the dangerous world of witches, and succeed against the dark magic stalking them every step of the way.

About Lola White

Delve into the emotions, dive into the erotic.

An extensive traveler who loves to incorporate various legends from around the world into her tales, Lola White likes to twist reality at its edges in her stories. She likes delving into the emotions of her characters, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and seeing (and showing) how they get themselves out of whatever trouble has found them—if they can.

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In an ironic twist, I’m honoring the release of Motherhood with a celebration of fathers! In the US, Father’s day is in June, and I’ll be releasing my novella, Stolen Goods just in time to celebrate.

Comment below with a happy memory of your father, step-father, grandfather, etc. and your first name, then follow this link and let me know! I’ll send you a PDF copy of Stolen Goods.

*Please be aware, by giving me your email address, you are also signing up for my monthly newsletter*


Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Lola, and thank you for sharing a bit of your journey.

I've had that experience you describe, a book sort of dying in the middle, leaving me paralyzed. It's terribly scary, and must be more so when you've committed yourself to a series and presumably a deadline. I'm so glad you found a way through that slough of despond!

Unknown said...

Thank you for having me Lisabet! Yes, it was incredibly frustrating to have a story that didn't feel 'right' where I knew I had all the pieces but also knew they were in the wrong places. But writing really requires a piece of us, doesn't it? I just had to learn how to dig deeper, how to open myself and how to be fearless enough to put it on the page :)

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