My husband is turning 40 in a couple of days. To celebrate, I (with the help of our families) threw him a surprise party last night. He was surprised. He never had any idea of what we were planning. We all had a blast. The months of planning that went into this event have been fun, crazy, and tricky to have him not catch on! I had to play my cards just right. I had to lead up to it very carefully, leaving some hints as far as people being out of town for the holiday weekend (so he wouldn't make other plans), setting up my reason for getting him to the party place (he almost bailed at the last minute), and orchestrating the timing of everything and everyone involved. Things had to come together just so to make it all work. And it did. It was a wonderful night!
It also got me to thinking. Planning this party was very similar to plotting a book. When I write I have an idea in my mind of how I want things to work out. I usually know how the book is going to end before I even start writing it. When I finally hit the computer and start getting the words down, I have to plan very carefully to make sure that everything that happens is leading my characters in the right direction. Sometimes they go ways I don't want them to go. (Often they seem to have a mind of their own.) I have to carefully steer them through their decisions so everything turns out right in the end. I have to coordinate secondary characters and their actions so they enhance, but don't get in the way of my couple's happily ever after. I have to give my reader every reason to believe that my couple can't possibly get together, and then of course bring all of the loose ends, plot points, and other happenings together to resolve their conflicts and give them the happy ending they (and my readers) deserve and are expecting.
Sometimes there are surprises along the way. Sometimes key plot points need to be kept secret from readers and characters. I can't give away too much too soon. I want people to stay with me and keep turning the pages. But it has to be done carefully, so the surprise isn't ruined or given away too early. It's finding that balance of hinting and hiding. Until finally, in the end, it turns into a wonderful story.
My latest story is a FREE read available through The Wild Rose Press. It's a Christmas story called "Mistletoe and Folly". Feel free to click on the link and enjoy! Who knows, maybe you'll find a surprise or two in it!
Until next time,