How Sweet They Are
Last Halloween if someone had told me that in exactly one year, I’d be doing pre-publication edits on one book, second-drafting another and first-drafting a third, I’d have laughed loudly.
Or run screaming. With fear, not joy.
But that’s exactly where I find myself, heading into this year’s National Novel Writing Month. In February, my agent sold my Russia-set contemporary romance to Carina Press, in a three book series, now known as “Red Hot Russians.” The first book, “Pairing Off,” comes out in Feb. 2015. Book Two, tentatively entitled “Taking It Off” is due to my editor at the end of this year. Book Three currently exists only as a rubber-banded bundle of notecards on the corner of my desk.
That changes November 1, when Book #3 becomes my National Novel Writing Month project.
Though I’m not a big plotter, I like to have some idea of where I’m going, so I downloaded a very basic 99-cent story-building course from Holly Lisle’s website.
While I won’t go into all of what I learned from “The Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course,” I found one exercise really helpful, and I was able to complete in about one hour.
It’s all about Candy Bar scenes.
They’re the scenes you’re just itching to write. Scorching love scenes. Daring escapes. For me, they’re often the tender, awwww-inspiring moments, when the hero shows his swoon-worthiness through some heartfelt gesture.
These are your Candy Bar scenes, and Lisle advises using them to build your novel.
Start with a stack of note cards. Lisle walks you through quick lessons to create a main character, central idea, and a simple start and finish for your book (not as hard as it sounds—no one expects brilliance on note cards). Then she asks you to describe each of your “candy bar” scenes in one or two sentences, using one card per scene.
Now lay them out on a table, playing around with the order until you find one you like. Think about events that connect one candy bar scene to the next. Describe each of those on a separate card, in one or two sentences. Work them into the existing cards. Now link those scenes to the ones before and after. And so on.
Voila! A plot, or at least the semblance of one, is born.
The number of cards/scenes you create depends upon the length of book you’re going to write. For a contemporary romance novel that will finish at about 95,000 words, I’ve created about sixty scenes. Shorter books will need fewer. You may or may not use all the scene cards you’ve created, or keep them in the original order. But it’s a good place to start.
After all, who doesn’t love a candy bar?
Elizabeth Harmon’s debut novel “Pairing Off,”(Red Hot Russians, Book #1) a contemporary romance set in the world of competitive figure skating, is a February 2015 release from Carina Press. Learn more about Elizabeth at www.romancewriter-girl.com on her blog, http://elizabethharmonauthor.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Add her to your Goodreads shelf at www.goodreads.com/book/show/23440537-elizabeth-harmon.