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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Plot or characters ?????

I’ve been reading a few blogs lately that seem to concentrate on the same subject. Which comes first, the plotting or the fleshing out of the characters. Personally, I find it hard to separate the two. In For Love is New, my latest book, the research needed was so extensive that as I learned more about the background, the characters seemed to grow to fit the times. They had to, and I found it a fascinating process.

Of course I’ve got a handsome, intrepid hero, and a spunky and sweet heroine. On top of that she’d a renowned poetess, and so I had to learn to write a little poetry. Not easy, at least for me, and the title of the book comes from the first line in one of her poems. Christian and Juliet try to keep their hands off each others, with little success. They're also trying to keep the villain from sending money to Napoleon to help him escape Elba. Many of the chapters start with a little squib of what Napoleon is doing that day, and then go back to England and our lovers.
As I learned about the tempestuous times of 1815, the villain became nastier and nastier. He truly is the most despicable character I’ve ever conceived. Really fun to write about such a horrible man.

After you read the excerpt, I wish you'd comment on which is the more important. Plot, or characters. And how do you choose?

"The walls between their rooms were thin, and he’d plainly
heard Juliet dismiss Betsey. That was some time ago. Doubtless she was now in bed, most probably asleep.

He was still unbearably restless and pulled on his pants to go for that blasted walk. Then he heard a sound from Juliet’s room. A kind of groan. He was through the connecting door in an instant and looking down at a sleeping Juliet. She writhed on the bed, moaning softly, and then she breathed his name.

She’d thrown off the top half of the covers, and he could plainly see her budded nipples and firm breasts through the sheer dimity of her nightrail. Startled, he stared at her enticing form. He hardened instantly, his penis a sudden rod of steel. As he watched her lovely body twitch, he was at first confused, and then as he saw her hand roaming over her stomach, he understood what he’d done. He’d aroused her, and left her not only unsatisfied, but ignorant of what was wrong. An abrupt bolt of certainty shot through him. At least this was one problem he could solve for her.

He slipped under the covers and took her in his arms, kissing her forehead and cheeks and replacing her questing hand with his own. Those fully pointed nipples were easy to find and caress as she sighed and snuggled closer to him. Putting his mouth on her breasts, he moved his hand lower and found the nubbin he sought. As he’d thought and hoped it would be, it was enlarged and throbbing, and delightfully moist.

Julie still slept, although she began to twist in his arms. He caressed her with his mouth and his hands, and knew the instant she regained consciousness.

“Christian?” Her voice was shaky and unsure.

“Stay still, love, I’m only bringing you pleasure.”
He deepened his caresses and took her lips, just as she started to protest. Kissing her erotically, he dragged her under and continued stroking her. He felt her respond and knew he’d get no more protests from her. She threw her arms around his neck and began kissing him at any spot she could reach.


Katalina Leon said...

Wonderful excerpt Jean.
I admire all your research and hard work.
My plotting habits are similar to yours-research and setting always shape the characters.
Happy Belated Birthday!

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks, Kat. I suspect you work every bit as hard as I do, and your writing shows it. And thanks, I had a wonderful birthday...

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

I agree that's it had to separate which comes first or which is the most important. my vote is equally. like watching one of those actions movies, how many car chases and fight scenes can you watch without it getting boring without an actually story with real people involved? kodos on the research. if you're like me, a very small fraction of what you learned went into the book you were working on, but gave you a wealth of ideas for new ones.

jean hart stewart said...

Very pertinent comment,Larion. I did base another book on that a time period. So much going on in 1815.....Jean

Paris said...

Lovely excerpt, Jean! I love historical romance and this sounds like an exciting plot:)

I usually get my characters first but they're always in the middle of some action that drives the story forward so it's a little of both. It's very hard to separate the two!

Glad you had a wonderful birthday:)

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks, Paris. Love your writing so appreciate your comments.

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