Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Evolution of a Novel Series -- Eliza Bloome

Once the idea for the series took shape, I had to set aside Beside Two Rivers and begin book 1 Before the Scarlet Dawn.

Book 1 ~ At the beginning I had questions.
Who is Eliza Bloome?
Where did she grow up?
Who were her parents?
What does she look like?
What are her beliefs?
What does she want?

Eliza began to take form deeply in my imagination. I saw a young woman with raven hair, clear skin, and violet eyes whose heart is longing to be loved for the person she is, not for her beauty. She is a bit naive when it comes to the ways of the world.

She is the daughter of a vicar and lives with him at a small vicarage in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, England until his death. Her mother died when she was a baby.

Eliza loves God and wants to do the right thing. She believes with all her heart that He is guiding her to the man she longs for. What she wants most is to be loved unconditionally, and to be accepted for her mind and soul, to find a husband who treats her as his equal.

To get this all down on paper, I jotted down these attributes in my notebook for Before the Scarlet Dawn. In writing the story, the best technique for me is writing the scenes out by hand first in the notebook. Each novel has its own. Writing freehand, for some reason I cannot explain, causes the words to flow out of me. It is raw, unedited prose. Perhaps it has to do with the right side of the brain, the creative side. All I know is this technique is what helps me start and finish a novel.

The story begins its evolution with Eliza sitting at her father's beside late at night. A knock on the door echoes up the staircase. The servant of a local gentleman must speak to Reverend Bloome in private. And what he has to tell, launches the story.

Sounds a bit crazy, but I pictured Eliza telling me 'write my story'. She became to me a person who once lived, breathed, and walked this earth. If I could not achieve that, my readers will not connect to her.

So in the evolution of book 1 in the series, I began with characterization. Eliza, being the main character, comes on stage in chapter one awaiting the inevitable. She then moves on and readers begin to meet the people in her life. Her devoted servant, Fiona Goodall. A suitor whose sees winning her as a challenge named Langbourne. And then the man Eliza loves above all others - Hayward Morgan---proud, wealthy, and in search of a stalwart wife. The major players are in place, and the question arises. Will Hayward love Eliza unconditionally? Will he see her as his equal, and be devoted to her no matter how much the storms of life rage against them?

As a reader, what intrigues you the most about a series?

As a writer, what kinds of things intimidate you about writing a series?


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Intrigue...learning about the characters lives, and literally developing a relationship with them.

Intimidation...figuring out enough stuff to write about a character to create a memorable one that can be sustained throughout several books!

Jessica Nelson said...

Sounds interesting! I always love a romance where one is in love with the other before the other falls in love with the one. LOL Did that make sense?

I actually don't care for a series that follows one character. I tend to get frustrated because I like my Happily Ever at the end of the book. ;-)

I'm sure your series is going to be amazing!

Bonnie Toews said...

What makes your series so fascinating, Rita, is that you are not following the same characters through three books, but three different women who are connected to each other, so that their lives are filled out in a far more satisfactory way for readers. Often, in a standalone, a less dominant character than the protagonist cannot be as fully developed, yet that character catches the heart and imagination of the reader -- it's why we often don't want to put a book down because somehow it doesn't feel right to say good-bye to such characters. We long for more. Harnessing that yearning I believe is the trick to writing a successful series.

Rita Gerlach said...

Actually, Bonnie, the three heroines appear in book 1, but Eliza is major, Darcy (book 2) is her small daughter and Sarah (book 3) is a servant. In book 2, Darcy is major, and Eliza will appear in the book but toward the end. In book 2, Eliza and Darcy will appear but briefly, in the telling of Sarah's story.

But your point about harnessing the yearning is so important. I hope that is what I accomplish.

Jan Cline said...

I think everyone who is a fiction reader hates to see the characters just go away and the story stop. It's the curiosity in us that wants to see the next book. I sat down yesterday and started book two! I have just had it on my mind and had to see if it would come spilling out. It did. All kinds of ideaas rushing through my head that I need to organize in those notebooks! Half way through Surrender too! Love it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

I also start with characterization. Stories happen because people live life.

I wasn't intimidated because I never intended to write a series. A supporting character tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "This book is about me." The third and final (I think) book, comes full circle with the new generation.

Susan :)