I sent off my contract this morning which was most exciting. I have no publication date or title or the slightest idea if my revisions were any good, but not to worry, there have been distractions aplenty.
Not only is Mills & Boon going militant, up in arms about Warrington Station's kissing ban, but Feel the Heat runner-up Jackie Ashenden has been running a fascinating series of posts about external v. internal conflict, stereotypes and editorial feedback.
Which got me thinking about how I go about setting up a story. Messily and randomly, generally; my thought processes are a work in progress in themselves.
But take my latest WIP which is still by-and-large plotless. I recently read an article about how one of the few industries to actually do well out of recession is PR. So I thought, OK, my heroine will work in PR. A good excuse to write glam launch party scenes, if nothing else. So what sort of person would work in PR? Extrovert, good at socialising, confident, a people person. Fine.
Now, let's make her the owner of her own PR agency. She's obviously driven, successful and independent, but why? Well, what if she comes from an over-achieving family where great things are expected from all family members and failure is not an option? And what if (given the brilliance of her siblings) she's not entirely convinced that she's up to the job? How would that manifest itself? And what if she's rubbish with men? As she's been brought up to pursue success and avoid failure, she'd probably steer well clear.
So what would be her greatest fears? Failure would be one, I guess. And that someone will see through her. Oh, and (to a lesser extent) meeting an irresistible man who's not much of a people person and is a bit of a loner. For her inner conflicts to really come into their own, then, she needs to fail at something. Big time. And she needs to meet the hero, who naturally is not much of a people person, is a bit of a loner but has an uncanny ability to see through people.
And then we start on the hero. If he's going to be a loner then he'll rely on himself and he'll have a loner-y kind of job. But why would he be a loner? Why wouldn't he rely on anyone else? And why is he good at seeing through people? And what would he really really hate to happen?
Crikey, this sort of analysis could go on for ever. With any luck the answers will lead me to the plot, although I'm rather hoping my characters will do it for me. The only thing I do know is that whatever does happen, it'll make them confront their fears and they'll hate it.
And as if that wasn't enough, all this needs to happen against a backdrop of sparkling repartee and smouldering looks. I suddenly feel quite weak.