Three things I learned while writing A BURNING TRUTH
Be Certain of Your Facts. Recently I read a novel where the main character fled an assailant along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago just north of the Loop. Anyone familiar with the area knows it’s a street with tall skyscrapers, not suburban houses with fenced-in yards and gardens as depicted in the scene. The lesson here? If an author mentions actual places, make certain the setting is accurately reflected. I learned this the hard way when I used two different names for the same minor character in separate books. It is essential for me, particularly when writing a series, to keep an updated list of important dates, character names and profiles, location and setting details. Nothing jars the reader more than meeting a character in book fifteen that was killed off in book three. Readers don’t like to be introduced to Ellen in the first chapter and discover she is Evelyn later in the story.
Maintain an emotional charge. A book that has lots of zing between the hero and heroine is a book that engages the reader. It sizzles with intensity. This is what I wanted to achieve in the Cady Delafield series. I envisaged the series as three books based on the standard romantic theme of: Boy meets girl; Boy loses girl; Boy wins girl back. As I began writing book three, I realized that Doyle and Cady, now planning their wedding, had to maintain that sizzle. In order to achieve this there had to be some obstacle which got in the way of their happiness. Happiness is what we all seek, but we like to see our characters work for it. I wanted readers perched on the edge of their seats, cheering for the couple to find that blissful place again.
Characters must evolve. Life is ever changing. People struggle against obstacles, gain insight, grow, and hopefully achieve their heart’s desire. Often they realize what they most value and gain at the end of the story is not at all what they wanted in the beginning. As a reader, I like and expect to experience that change along with the character. When it isn’t there, when nothing has changed, I feel cheated. So in the Cady series, I made certain that she learns and becomes a better person because of her experiences.
Thanks for inviting me today. It’s been a hoot! Joyce
Excerpt from A Burning Truth by Joyce Proell:
Doyle sat in the carriage, his brain frozen and his limbs unable to move. He watched Cady run up the steps and disappear into Ophelia’s impenetrable stone manor. When the front door boomed shut with the noise of a cannon blast, he jumped. He lurched forward and exploded out of the vehicle. She wasn’t getting rid of him so easily. In fact, she wasn’t getting rid of him at all. He had a voice in the matter. He intended to be heard.
Just as soon as he thought it, his steps faltered and he ground to a stop.
Now was not the time to try to reason with her, not when she was in a cold fury. He pumped a fist against a thigh and stared at the mansion’s rock façade, aware her current state of mind was as solid and unshakable. Even if he managed to get beyond the front door, she wouldn’t listen. Not now.
His head fell back. A piercing ache tore through him, as if his heart and soul had been shredded and tossed aside. Gunmetal storm clouds reeled over the sky, bleak and threatening. The bite in the air made his cheeks sting. Inside he was hollowed and gutted. His fingers curled and uncurled. Muscles coiled, he pivoted with a fierce twist, snapped an order to Phelps then threw himself back into the carriage. His next move must be deployed with utmost care. The carriage jolted forward and thrust him back against the seat cushion. She needed time to cool. Then he’d be back, and she’d listen to what he had to say.