I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post by author Nanette Littlestone, who muses on...
How Bad Can It Get?
I was forty-one when my writing muse (aka Spirit) first whispered to me and I was also single and a little desperate. Where was that knight in shining armor? When was I going to get rescued and carried off into the sunset? How long did I have to wait?
When you don’t have romance in your life, you make do with second best. Books about romance. I devoured them, all kinds, and fantasized about that perfect man. So when I started to write, of course I wanted to write romance. It seemed simple. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl over some ridiculous misunderstanding, then they make up and, in the end, boy gets girl once again.
But it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Just because I read romance didn’t mean I could write it. My story lines were too simplistic and my characters were weak, flimsy, unambitious, and unmotivated. All they cared about was eating, sleeping, and falling in love. Sadly, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Help came in the form of an online class on plotting. The teacher gave us a GMC chart (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) and told us to fill it out. We had to define our character’s role, their default behavior, inner motivation, outer goal, inner goal, outer conflict, and inner conflict. As a bonus she added a column for “what would the character never do.” So I filled out my chart but I didn’t feel any closer to creating strong characters and/or a strong story line. When I asked for help the teacher said, “Use the character’s default behavior to create conflict.” Say what? I knew my two main characters would fall in love, but I didn’t know how to get them there or what happened after the fact.
Throughout the class I pondered the statement about using the character’s default to create conflict. I so wanted to understand but I just didn’t get it. The last day of the class another student raised the same question I had and the teacher gave the same response. But this time the lightning bolt struck and illuminated my brain. Eureka, I understood!
So who were my characters and what did they want? Toscana has a comfortable marriage with a good, kind man. But her heart longs for more. In her dreams and with Flynn she feels the possibilities of that desire grow into something tangible, something exciting, something breathtaking. But to follow her heart means taking risks, suffering consequences, possibly hurting the people she loves. How can she do that?
Suddenly conflict blossomed and spread throughout my story. The characters deepened and carried emotional flaws. Their choices created far-reaching consequences that not only had the potential to harm them but also harm others.
Since that class, GMC has become the powerhouse behind every story line. With GMC I identify not only the exterior goal and conflict (usually the villain) but also the emotional heart of the characters—their needs and fears. The basic beliefs and patterns that we all share. We may live under different conditions, some in luxury, some in poverty, some with education, some without. But we all feel heartache and joy, longing and desire, the need to love and be loved. These universal emotions unite everyone around the planet, and it is those emotions that make for great storytelling.
GENRE: Women's Fiction
Disturbing visions from an ancient past.
A mysterious stranger that somehow feels familiar.
On the night of her fiftieth birthday, the comfortable ride of Toscana’s life takes an alarming plunge. Haunted by seductive visions, she tries to push aside the desire and focus on the husband who adores her. Then she falls for Flynn, a younger man with an eye for adventure and a heart full of romance, who leaves her doubting everything she’s believed about love and passion.
In Atlanta, Rome, and the lush scenery of Tuscany, Toscana searches for answers to the mysteries of her life while she faces her biggest question. If she listens to her feelings will she lose everything she holds dear, or does her heart hold the key to love and joy?
I loved him before I knew him.
Some people talk of synchronicity. The rhythm of life. I know of rhythm, in the lyricism of words, in music, in the ebb and flow of the ocean, in the monthly cycles of plants and trees. A beautiful orchestration exists in the simplest of nature. But my world operates on logic, practicality, reason. I do not believe in a grand plan. I do not believe in God.
And then he came.
Before him, I had a well-ordered life. Habit and routine carried me through the day, warmth and comfort eased me through the night. There were disappointments. Longings. Not all was perfect. But such is life. If there was no great passion, so be it. Peace is preferable to something wild that soars then fizzles and leaves you with an aching heart. I had a different kind of love—security, respect, admiration, friendship.
He showed me my lies in a slow creep of warmth that grew and teased and eventually began to burn. The thought of him burrowed deep inside me until I could think of nothing but him.
To this day I don’t think he knew what would happen. How do you know what fate has in store for you? They say man has free will to act, to choose, to create whatever he desires. But what of other people’s actions, choices, desires? What if those choices conflict with your own? We tried to resist the seemingly magnetic pull. We did our best to act rationally, to behave with honor and dignity. To be selfless. But love is not selfless.
Love is selfish. Love craves attention. Love needs to be heard, to be felt. Love is a natural disaster.
You may think this is nothing new. We all know stories of love. But this story is different. This story spans over two thousand years. This story began in ancient Rome.
So I beg you, for as long as it takes to read this story, to put aside your beliefs. Something took hold of me, pulled me along. Was it fate? Destiny? Divine intervention?
Look to your own heart for the answers.
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Nanette Littlestone never knew she wanted to be a writer until she was over forty. But once she began, the ideas didn’t stop. Her fascination with relationships, history, and the spiritual path has opened her writing to women's fiction, historical fiction, and inspirational nonfiction.
A native Californian, Nanette lives in Atlanta, Georgia, far from the beach (which she loves) but a place that’s warm with spectacular scenery. On the professional side, she helps entrepreneurial women write and get published with Words of Passion. On the fun side, she takes walks with her husband, cooks, plays with graphic design, and makes origami butterflies. She loves to travel, but she’s waiting for the teleportation machine to whisk her off to Greece or Asia. In the meantime, she’s happy with dark chocolate and romantic movies that make her cry.
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