|One location...many stories|
I never meant to. I intended to write a romantic suspense novel set in a small Italian town where I’d just spent a holiday and with which I’d fallen immediately in love. (I’m afraid my books are holiday romances in more ways than one.) I had the outline plotted by the end of the holiday, drafted up within a couple more weeks and written up by the end of October. I can work fast when I’m on a roll.
Unfortunately, during the process of writing, something went badly wrong. Although the main plot worked fine and my hero and heroine proved unusually biddable, two of my minor characters did not. They fell in love, without realising it, and at the end of the book they were left separated and not on speaking terms. Which would have been fine if I (and I hope the reader) didn’t know they were deeply attracted to one another and that their story was not over.
Because they were meant be together, no matter how difficult their path, plotting their story was fairly straightforward too. But that was I ran into another problem. In a series of books about the same people — such as Jenny Harper’s current Heartland series — it’s tricky enough to keep everyone’s stories straight. Jenny does it brilliantly. But with a sequel, where the plot driver of Book Two (in this case the relationship between the two protagonists) hinges on actions which they took in Book One…how do you tell the story?
I can’t assume a reader has read Book One first, thought it would help if they had, and even if they had it might be a while before they get to Book Two. How much of the back story do I introduce? How soon? How much do I say about he characters, the relationships which have been introduced? If Leona is determined to go back to Italy to get Nico to apologise, though obviously she won’t acknowledge she’s in love with him (if she even knows) then how much do I have to put in about what their row was about — and how soon?
I haven’t resolved the issue yet. I’ve chopped and I’ve changed the opening several chapters. I’ve taken some sound advice thanks to which (you know who you are) it feels a whole lot better. But getting in the backstory without too much telling is proving harder than I anticipated.
I’m taking more advice, and any tips are welcome. Answers on a postcard, please!