Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running on Empty

Here I go with my whining again. Line up to smack me if you want. I'll start.

What am I whining about now, you ask? Same old. Same old.

I'm on deadline and I'm stuck.

I've confessed that I don't write a lot of introspection or descriptions. I wish I did because I sure could use the words. I like to write action, multiple plots, and a lot of dialogue. The problem is..that leaves me worrying about word count in every single book I've written.

Some people complain about having to cut out 5000 or more words to get their word count down. I seriously want to hurt them!

Back to my whining. Here I am living out my dream with a three book contract writing about characters I absolutely adore. Did I mention my editor loves them, too?
So what's the problem?

First off, let me say I've discussed this with a friend who is also a debut author writing book 2 of the series. And I got this absolutely giddy feeling when she said she is experiencing the same kind of problems. Misery does love company. Anyway, you'd think the sequel would be easier to write than the first book since I have character profiles and know the players like the back of my hand. My clueless-in-the-kitchen main character who is addicted to Hostess HoHos is already so adorable that no reader will walk away without feeling like they know her personally.

And therein lies the problem!

A big chunk of book one went into molding all my characters and fine-tuning their personalities so they would be memorable. Now how am I supposed to make them different?

While I watched my Cowboys lose to the Eagles tonight, I thought about this... even researched it and this is what I discovered. Once an avid reader finds an author they love they will probably buy the whole backlist and then wait expectantly for the next book.

Sheesh! Like I'm not already under enough pressure!

Okay, I think I've got it. Each book must be able to stand alone. The protagonist must be recognizable throughout all the books yet somehow change for each one. Is that right?

How many Hostess HoHos can one girl eat?

That brings me to my next point. You can't bore the reader with repetitive details of earlier events.

That's what I'm fussing about! How do you keep your characters fresh from book to book?

I'm beginning to believe you have to approach each book as a different episode of your favorite TV show. The characters are the same, but the situations change. Everyone knows it's a series so you can't kill off any of the main characters, but you still have to build suspense to keep them turning the pages. Adding new characters can help do that.

I feel better about this already.

With that problem solved, I've come to another unhappy conclusion about myself. I am a plotter in trouble. I'm going to have to do what I did in book 1 and that's jump to the scenes that I know will be coming. I can always go back and write the connector chapters later, but I have to get words on the page. The deadline, remember?

I came across this cute little video about Shakespeare and writer's block. Check it out.



I'm waiting for my characters to show me what they want to do next. In the meantime, any suggestions on how to make that happen?

19 comments:

Lindsay said...

Smack. Smack. Smack.
Now stop feeling sorry for yourself. You already not only know the answer but have answered the question. Treat the characters like those in a TV show. Bring in new and different dimensions to them. Let us yearn and cry out for them.
Make your main characters YOU. Become them. Just like you did in the first book.
You can do it. And you want to know why?
I have faith in you.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I think you're right. We do know the characters and by the end of book one, your main character is in a good place....so now you change her by throwing something at her she doesn't expect. Yes she has to solve a new murder, but throw something else at her that she didnt expect "personality wise." Test one of her strong beliefs or make her face one of her worst fears or put another kink in her lovelife just when she thought things were okay. I think all of that makes our "familiar" characters a bit different. We put them in different situations and keep testing different aspects of their lives just to see how they will handle these new developments :-)

You can so do this. You rock, Liz!!

Tonya Kappes said...

It is hard to develope those characters even further. BUT I'm sure you will figure out a way. With each book, my protagonist grows up a little more, might take a different defense class and obviously use those skills, then those skills are defined in the following book. The relationship might be developing more with someone else, even a secondary character from the first etc... Good luck!

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, thanks for the smack and for the faith in me. Today is my experiment day as I will be attempting to write a future chapter.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, I'm going to try to do that today. I so need a girls' plotting weekend.

How was your first official book signing Saturday?

Liz Lipperman said...

Tonya, I can always count on you commenting bright and early on Monday morning.

Yes, I think that's the key. You have to dig deeper. I had a CP tell me that she thought I started book 2 in the wrong place, so I'm looking at that, too.

Katt said...

What Kari said is soooo dead on.

And here's another idea. READ. More specifically, read Janet Evanovich's Number books.

I've read all sixteen or is it seventeen? of them and each time I read a new one, I marvel at how she keeps Stephanie Plum et al, evolving while staying funny, and interesting.

I know you can do it too! (also, I see Janet is guest speaking at Romance U this week so drop in over there for some tips and you can ask her how she does it).

Lindsay said...

I know from my own experience finding the right place to start the book is probably the toughest part of the writing.
Keep the faith.

Liz Lipperman said...

Katt, good suggestion. I'll definitely give that a try.

And where have you been?

Liz Lipperman said...

Thanks, Lindsay. it looks like we're the only ones playing today!!

Lindsay said...

Yeah, I guess we are about the only ones. Isn't there something about your main character that you've held back or something you could layer on about the heroine.
Look at some tv series like NCIS. The viewer learns little bits about the main characters over the course of the series, like Gibbs and his rules. You have to watch every show from the beginning to learn them.
And in Castle. The relationship between him and both his mother and him and Becket.
Even in the Stephanie Plum books. Keep the reader learning about the main characters.
I know you can do it because you're that good

Donna Cummings said...

Liz, I can see where you would be feeling stymied. It's a good place to be and a scary place to be right now. :)

I saw an interesting comment on imdb.com the other day, about a TV show that I thought was going in a different direction than it had for 3 years. The commenter said that people don't really LIKE for series characters to change--they like the comfort of their sameness.

So I think the same may be kinda true of a series character in a book. They are reading it because they like who that character is, and they want to experience more adventures with them.

I hope this helps. And I hope I can rely on what you learn during this when I get to this stage. :)

My code word is "antiverb". Maybe there's a secret in there that will help. LOL

Mary Martinez said...

You can eat Ho Ho's with me any time. But like Lindsay I have all the faith in the world in you.

Great blog, I often feel the same way! And I don't have a 2 book deal.

vb said...

You can do this! Get out that sheet we worked on. And I'm happy to read for you too. oxoxox

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, good thoughts. And I love your faith in me.

Liz Lipperman said...

Donna, I think you hit it on the head about people not wanting their favorite characters to change. I guess my problem lies more with how do I keep her interesting?

I love that your code word was antiverb. So, is that a noun??

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, are you a HoHo lover, too? I thought I would give away bite-sized ones at booksignings. People would have to buy the book to find out why.

Thanks for your faith in me.

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Vicki, I'm not hurting for lack of plot. The Plotting Pretties made sure of that. My muse has gone and left me. I need Santa to bring her back to me.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lindsay said...

Of course I have faith in you. Like I know you have faith in me.
Antiverb-I believe it might be an antinoun.