Today I'm thrilled to host author Jan Romes for "Open Mic Monday." She's talking about action, reaction and what if...the key ingredients in writing a great story.
Following her post is a great excerpt of her latest novel, KISS ME. Enjoy!
ACTION, REACTION, AND WHAT IF?
By: Jan Romes
One of the first things we learn when writing a story is that for every action there has to be a reaction. The reaction can be in the form of dialogue or a gesture. It can be strong, nonchalant, or almost nonexistent – but there has to be one. My characters usually react the way we think they will, but sometimes it’s fun for them to do the opposite. Mix things up. (Of course, do it sparingly because too many out-of-the-ordinary reactions will make the reader question the authenticity of the character). Here’s an example of changing things up to surprise not only the character but also the reader. In my latest novel, KISS ME, Lacy Goodlow is at her sister’s bachelorette party, playing a game she’s deadest against – she has to give the guy at the bar a napkin that simply says “kiss me”. When the guy turns around it’s the cop who gave her a speeding ticket on the way to the party. Jared Kelly is thrilled to bump into Lacy again and he’s surprised when she thrusts the napkin at him. Everything falls apart when Angela Castle (Lacy’s wicked stepsister; the woman who dated and dumped Jared) interrupts. The anger is evident and Lacy expects him to tear up the napkin. Instead, Jared gives her a hard, angry kiss hot enough to melt her shoes.
While writing your novel, be sure to ask yourself…what if? That question is so important. It can add depth, intrigue, action, and reaction. It can also reveal humor, weaknesses, and flaws. It helps drive your story. Sometimes in writing we hit a snag. Our thoughts will just not cooperate. If we go back to ‘what if?’ it might solve whatever is ailing our creativity. Here are some ‘what if’s’ from KISS ME. What if Lacy Goodlow is running late for the bachelorette party? That question spawned a handsome cop, Jared Kelly. What if he puts her through a sobriety gauntlet? It makes her even more late, stirs her anger and her interest. What if her wicked stepsister dated Jared? You get the idea. One ‘what if’ gave way to a few hundred more. It helped shape my story. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box with the answers to your ‘what if’s’. Make the answer plausible, but unforeseen.
Here are some physical actions/reactions/gestures that might be of some use to you: a cocky wink, lifting a haughty shoulder, squinting in a furtive manner, rolling your eyes, brows bumping together in a scowl, one character edging closer to the other, jamming a leg into a pair of jeans, rocking back and forth on your heels, deliberately ignoring a comment, shoulders sagging, toothy smile, wary smile, lips set in a grim line, licking your lips, pretending to gag, stiffening at a remark. The list is endless. Imagine how you would react if you were your character.
The reason for this particular blog post is that recently I struggled with my current work-in-progress; a romance laced with suspense – tentatively titled, STAY CLOSE, NOVAC! I knew the story inside and out, but I couldn’t get certain scenes to move. Once I stepped back and asked ‘what if?’ things began to zip along. I also pulled out my trusty notes on action/reaction. Voila! I’m close to typing The End.
Thank you so much, Amber, for having me as your guest today!
You can find me at:
KISS ME - Blurb
Falling for the cop who wrote her a speeding ticket and dated her spoiled stepsister throws Lacy Goodlow's world into chaos--but ignoring her heart to keep the peace is not an option.
AN EXCERPT OF KISS ME:
“Sir, seriously,” she whimpered. “I haven’t been drinking. And I need to get going.” She held her wrist up so he could see her watch. “My sister’s bachelorette party has already started, and if I don’t get there soon, she’s going to blow a gasket.”
Deputy J. Kelly’s eyes widened perceptibly.
Crap. He was picturing the same thing she was—drunken women and lots of alcohol.
Regardless, she was late. Lacy blew out a weighty breath of frustration, and contemplated making a move for his gun or handcuffing herself to his cruiser; anything so she wouldn’t have to face the wrath of Angela.
Deputy Kelly’s first command was for her to walk a straight line. Ha! Her sandal teetered on a stone and she swayed sideways. Next, touch the end of her nose. The earth must’ve shifted, because she missed and almost jabbed herself in the eye. And because of the diet cola she’d downed on the way there, she was fidgeting all over the place. “Are we done?”
Without answering the question, he leaned forward and took a big whiff.
An involuntary prickle of pleasure pulsed through her.
“I’m not going to administer the breathalyzer because your eyes aren’t glassy or red, your speech is not impaired, and I don’t smell alcohol on your breath.”
Duh. He’d been sniffing for alcohol, not enjoying her perfume.
She mumbled a feeble thank-you, but it was drowned out by a car filled with teenagers who buzzed past and hollered “Strip-search her.”
Buy link for KISS ME: