With my book out on submission there's very little I can do with it at this point until I start getting feedback from the editor I submitted it to, and from my betas, some of whom still have the first draft in their hands. Like most writers, this means I can do one of two things- I can sit on my hands and pace the floor while I wait for feedback (I've been doing a little of that, I'll confess) or I can get to writing another book.
Of course, the book I have out is being pitched as part of a series. Honestly, I think its a great idea and I do need to get to work on book two. Some of that I have done already. I began plotting the outline of the second book and the scratch plots of the five that follow it. I've also began work on a massive family tree for the saga- a daunting task that I've stopped halfway through because I truly need to get a hold of several history books if I want to make the time frames as accurate as possible. And I do. But that means I need to be able to accurately place my characters in Prohibition, the Alaskan Gold Rush and some other really fun places. See, the idea I have is to cross several historical genres with this family saga. I think it would be fun.
I love historical fiction and while I do have a hard preference for Regency fiction (its the dresses, I think, and the Dukes) I am not opposed to other time periods. I've noticed that writer Eloisa James is really good about capturing other time periods. Her Desperate Duchesses series is set in Georgian England. Anyway, I like the idea of doing some of the time-honored tropes, like Regency and maybe a good pirate novel. However, I started my series with an Elizabethan time travel novel, which is different from most historicals being published now. However, I think there are a lot of wonderful time periods that are completely untapped, and I want to see how they would work within the framework of a romance novel.
Anyway, before I get off on a completely different tangent than the one I set out on, I am, as sated, waiting on word back from said publisher and at a stand-still with editing until I hear more back from my betas. As such, I must find something else to do. For the last two weeks or so that has involved me doing research on the Regency period, which I know a little of- but not nearly enough, and spending the rest of my time watching movies (I've seen Pitch Perfect twice and watched nearly every video on YouTube related to the movie) and surfing the internet in hopes of finding something that will inspire me. In some small part it has worked. I have got a working outline. I have found music videos and clips that entertain me and make me feel like there is some hope for me as an artist of the written word. (I confess, I've found a couple of song lyrics by new artists that I like that I simply must find a way to reference in a book- this will of course involve me writing a contemporary novel- no worries, I have a series idea there too.)
In my quest for inspiration and distraction from my never ending list of things to research I have began to feel a little excited about this new book. One of the first things I do when I start writing a new novel is to start working with the characters in my head. I like to get a full visual of them before I start writing them, and by that time I've usually "introduced" myself to them and begun to get a feel for their personalities. This all goes into a notebook where I dutifully record anything that might have any sort of relevance to the book I am currently writing. Its here that I found something that gave me pause and nudged me into writing this post- however long winded and rambling it may seem at this point.
You see, I love to have visuals of my characters. This, to me, is extremely important in the writing of a book. When I read a romance novel one of the things I do is to actually take time to visualize what each person looks like to the best of my ability. Once I have the character cemented in my head I am able to let the action unfold in my mind without me needing to think overlong about the details. The details, you see, start to come naturally. This is the essence of good writing. When the author can carry a reader through the action without having to pause to remind them of the little things. This is especially important, in my mind, in the love scenes. Say what you will about them, but love scenes in a romance novel are necessary and when not properly written can ruin the mood of a book. I've read some that ruined the book for me entirely. My point is, if I have to go back and think of what the heroine and hero look like, or contemplate if "honey-wheat tresses" are blonde or a light brunette, it distracts me. If I already know, then I can move on and enjoy the scene itself.
Here's the thing- I've heard a lot about how romance novel characters are all the same. I hear some say that the women are impossibly perfect and that the men are completely unattainable. There's a lot of jokes, even within the writing community, about man-titty and bosoms and all of that. Granted, its tongue in cheek, and most of us use this is a reminder of how not to write a character- but we are aware of it. I've even seen a growing trend in the books being published (especially the ones I've read of late) where the author takes great pains to make the characters both beautiful and believable. I was thinking of this earlier last month when I was reading through the descriptions of my own characters and noticed that my male main character bore a striking resemblance, in description, to Robert Downey Jr. I did not do that on purpose. I promise. However, having noticed it, I discovered my re-read was much easier for me, because I could see him quite clearly. He was not Mr. Downey Jr. but I could see the resemblance and I think, for me (and hopefully my reader) it was easier to draw his portrait in my head knowing what I was looking at. I'm digressing, again. The point is, there's a lot of really great characters that I've been loving who are described in a way that makes them beautiful, but it is clear they are less than perfect. I really like that. And so to romance descriptions in general, where the thought occurred to me that I can write anyone as beautiful if I want to. Anyone at all. So I was thinking about trying it.
Of course, being vain, I thought about myself first. Now, despite what all of you very generous people tend to say about me, I know I am not a knockout. I am not what most people would call conventionally beautiful. I'm not ugly- don't think I'm saying that- but I do think I am about average. But if I actually took the time to write myself as a romance heroine, I think I could do an admirable job of making myself sound beautiful. In fact, I think I could do it with just about anyone I know. I could probably do it with people I don't know, just based on pictures. Now I have this theory, and I am dying to test it out. Can I really write myself- or anyone else for that matter- in a romance style and make them beautiful with words? I'm thinking I can.
So I am leaving it to you. I'm going to do a few posts, some with pictures included, and I will describe the person in the picture with the language and style I would use in writing one of my own novels. It will be a fun exercise for me and it will eventually, I think, prove my theory. If you would like me to write you up as well, let me know. I don't need a picture, I can do without, but if you want to include one I would be delighted. Most of you know my email, so you can send it to me there. Otherwise, I'll just wait for the fun to start. I'm off to hunt up a picture of myself to start the proceedings. Fun times.
Volunteers in the comments, please.
Your Description Loving Pal-