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Monday, November 30, 2020


By Caroline Clemmons

Non-writer friends often ask me how I think up all the stuff in my books. What really happens is our crazy brains conjure all these characters and situations. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. And we’re not really insane, either. Well, most of us aren’t. I’m not naming names, but there are a few people on my Probably Certifiable List.

And there are those (lazy?) people who say, “I’ll feed you ideas, you write the book, and we’ll split the royalties.” Uh, no. Not happening. The idea is the easy part. In fact, I have more than I can list. Writing a cohesive book with a credible story line is the hard part.

Then comes the hard part. Some parts of writing become easier with each book. One part that does not is making basic plots fresh, giving a tried and true idea a new twist. People argue over how many basic plots there are. The number varies from nine to twenty-seven. Supposedly, any book is a variation of one of those basic plots. And the more books and author has written, the harder that new variation becomes. Yeah, bummer.

How to make feisty, spunky heroines differ from those in past books? How different is one handsome cowboy from another?  How many ways can Tab A insert into Slot B? You get the idea, right?

Hero and I used to joke about a favorite author who repeated her basic plots. We would say, “This one is plot A.” Or plot B. The city and names varied, but little else. At the time, we had no notion of the difficulty of a fresh plot. And , hey, she sold a gazillion books and still sells even though she’s passed away. Not bad, right?

The main problem I encounter is that life keeps slapping me upside the head. Literally, if you count the last fall I had. You know the usual: dental appointments, doctor visits (or your prescriptions won’t be refilled), and all the errands necessary to function. Plus, the complex world we’re in with this pandemic forcing changes in our behavior.

Many people think that if you work from home, you can stop and do this or that because, after all, you don’t have a “real” job. Sigh. This is why Debbie Macomber said she decided to have an office away from her home, by the way. If we stop writing, we lose our concentration, our “groove”, and have to reread the last portion we wrote to bet back into the zone.  Fortunately, Hero understands this.

I try to vary settings and events so that my books appear fresh, even though they are always in my style and voice. With the exception of one novella set in Georgia, they’re always set primarily in the West and they always end happily. They’re the same, but different. Each main character has a journey, both external and internal. The same, but different.

I’m sure you’ve heard that writers are either writing or thinking about writing. It’s true. We can’t help ourselves.  For the next few days, I’m thinking about writing. And decorating for Christmas. Have you put up your tree yet?  

Speaking of plots (sneaky segue), I have a book release coming soon and hope you have preordered my upcoming book, MEG, Angel Creek Christmas Brides book 20, releasing December 18. You can get it here:

Be safe, be happy, keep reading!

1 comment:

  1. I finally finished decorating. I've positioned four small trees around the house with lights. The colorful lights chase away the gloom and dismal feeling of the dark days that begin at 5:30 p.m. here in Central PA. I'm hoping it also gives me incentive to write.


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