Monday, December 18, 2006

Love is in the details

Trouble_Waters is a mystery/thriller, I'm told. I say "I'm told" because I honestly had no idea as to how to categorize it after I started it and asked a friend who writes as well and that's what he said. It wouldn't be so hard to know what to call it if I wasn't so prone to mix the supernatural/scientific "what-ifs" in with so many ordinary events. Throw in a murderer mystery, a dog and/or cat and a love story and you've pretty much got the kind of stuff I like to write. Genre never enters my mind when I'm planning a story.

Today I wrote a couple of important scenes--one important to the primary plotline, the other to the sub-plot and I had one of those moments that amounted to"Is it as good on the page as it is in my head?" The primary plotline really doesn't worry me too much. I know that's on track, moving quickly forwards, never a dull moment, etc. It's the secondary plotline--the relationship between the two primary characters--that always concerns me. I'm writing from two different POVs for the first time, so I'm particularly concerned that it delivers my intent.

Because love always plays a role in my work and I am a terrible romantic at heart (but cannot bring myself to write romance novels because . . . well . . . ick . .)and because I'm prone to have so many balls in the air at the same time (writing about murder, warlocks, car-chases, internet crime, love in the same book is hard), I have to guard against it taking over the whole book or--almost worse--it moving so slowly that it turns ordinary readers off.

My firm belief is that true love is to be found in the details and that plays into what I write about relationships. I learned as a young single woman that the guys who brought me roses or took me out for big-flashy dinners weren't necessarily serious and often morphed into jerks at sunrise. The friend who remembered what kind of wild flowers I liked (daisies), and what books I read, who took me out to dinner dozens of times without so much as hugging me because he didn't want to rush me and actually listened when I talked (which was a lot) was generally dead-serious. I was lucky enough to know both kinds of men and (finally) smart enough to know which one was for keeps.

So I make use of this when I write these scenes and my characters are often friends before they are anything else. And I use a lot of small gestures to demonstrate the growing feelings (lots of stuff going on in their heads, small stuff on the outside). I know better than to worry about realism in fiction, but the fact of the matter is: good chemistry and great sex do not convert selfish bastards into nice guys, regardless of what the romance novels tell us and I refuse to perpetuate this kind of myth. Nice guys migh finish last, but that's because they try harder and they last longer.

I'm hoping my test readers will let me know if this aspect of the plotline drags. Meanwhile, it's fun to think that I might know what I'm doing and this will make my books stand out among the other horror/thriller variety stories.


Anonymous said...

Keep it coming, Mary; I've been captivated since day one. It'd be nice it Troubled_Waters got some 'daisies' soon and let her guard down a little (smile) - Scotty

Mary O. Paddock said...


Thanks so much for coming by.

It will get worse before it gets better.