Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Details, Details, Details

Laying in bed last night, I got to thinking about my book (as usual - I'm surprised I ever get to sleep). I realized I need to beef up the details.

No big surprise. My first drafts are always short on details. I usually have whole pages full of nothing but dialogue. Sometimes, though, I write the details because they're necessary to the story as I'm writing it.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

For instance, I had a a problem last week. You see, part of the book is set in Racine, WI. Now, I've never been to Racine, but I used to rep a company based there, and my brother shoots over there maybe twice a year (so he can vet the description for me, if need be). The problem I ran across is I assumed Racine was way north in Wisconsin, and had written the details to reflect that. Then as I was wrapping the scene up, I had to figure out which major airport my characters would need to use, and out came the link for City-Data.com. I typed in Racine, WI. Right on Lake Michigan... Check. Scroll down... Crap. Racine is in southern WI. Midway between Milwaukee and Chicago. Double-crap. The first victim has to be from Racine, or it throws off the whole plot. (I thought about using Green Bay, but the city's too big for my purposes.) The tie-in to all the other bodies has to be in northern WI, or again, it throws off the whole plot. How to fix... How to fix...

After a while, the answer came to me, and everything dovetailed nicely together, but I got hung up in those details. I could've rewritten the whole thing to make it work, and trust me, I thought about it. Thank goodness I didn't do it. The answer really was very simple once I thought about it.

Now, as I was laying in bed last night, I realized the details I haven't yet written are going to hang me up a bit. Not badly, but it's there and I have to deal with it.

I may have mentioned before that I wasn't sure if this book was going to be straight suspense or romantic suspense. Early on, I couldn't see how this tough chick heroine with her hands-off attitude toward the male species could ever make time for romantic involvement. She's fairly well a self-contained individual who doesn't need a man to complete her life. Except that isn't the point of romance. Not needing a man to complete you doesn't mean you never need a man.

So, her romance crept up on her and hit her out of the blue. Hit us both, actually. I wasn't expecting this to happen either. (Funny. That's pretty much how I met my husband, but I digress.) She doesn't want or need a man in her life, but there he is.

Of course, this means I have some major re-writing to do with the first 100 pages, but it'll be worth the work. This, unlike Racine, can be fixed with minimal plot shifting. Not too much, mind you, because I want the reader to be as surprised by this turn of events as she is (and as I was).

I love the details. Sure, the devil's in there, making more work for me, but in the end, the story will be stronger for it.

Have you ever been tripped up by your own details? Have you ever read a book where the author got the details wrong, and how much did it irritate you?

Oh, and speaking of things thought up while laying in bed, I have a way to turn this into a three book series, if the situation arises. I haven't got the plots laid out yet, but I have the two secondary characters in place who could carry their own books.

PS. Speaking of Racine, if you've never had a Danish Kringle, they are the most delicious, to die for pastries ever.

1 comment:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Well done. I love it when plots sort themselves out :)