I’m totally breaking my rule of not working on a new book while I haven’t finished the first one (especially when the first one has a few folks requesting it!), but after reading Elizabeth’s post last week, I couldn’t help it. See, the Girls in My Basement have been complaining about their diet of white rice (a.k.a., Three Proposals) for awhile now, and I’m getting a mite bit tired of their noise, so I figured it was time to serve them coq au vin so they’d shut up and cooperate.
It’s working. They like coq au vin.
Actually, this all came about when I started taking a class called Story Structure Safari (SSF) taught by Lisa Miller. I’m LOVING it. What I didn’t want to do is apply this new technique of plotting to 3P, because EWW, I would find so many things wrong with it and I really just need to get the story done.
So instead, I pulled out what I thought would be a relatively easy story to write (“easy” as in “not a lot of heavy research”). It’s Tradwick’s story…Nate’s friend and fellow spy…and I’m having such a great time discovering this character and what makes him tick! What’s even better is because I’m figuring this out now, I can go back in Three Proposals and get Tradwick all squared away so he’s the same character in both books.
Tradwick’s story (no title yet — the high concept is “James Bond meets young Philomena, but in post-Napoleonic France” so if you have any ideas, let them fly) centers around his assignment from the Home Office to find and return a marquess’ socialite daughter who had gone missing. Her father was told she fled the country, but in fact, her stepmother, upon discovering she was enciente, trucked her off to a girls’ home in France to have the baby. What Tradwick doesn’t expect is that Catie, the daughter, won’t come back home unless he finds her baby, who was sold to some unknowns.
This is the basic plot I had before starting SSF. In Lesson Two (OMG!!! So much great story discovery and I’m only on Lesson TWO!), the plot got a lot deeper. Higher stakes. More emotional investment. More conflict.
See, I discovered that Tradwick has a past that’s inexorably linked to his challenge of finding this missing baby and returning Catie to England. When he was young, his mother got pregnant with another man’s child and Tradwick’s father made her choose — them or the baby. She chose the baby and disappeared from Tradwick’s life (ouch). Their family name was marred by the scandal and Tradwick’s father has instilled in his son the importance of propriety. The family has worked hard to restore their name, and the coup de grace will be the promotion Tradwick receives at the Home Office once he finds the marquess’ daughter.
What he doesn’t expect to find is his mother, working in France to shut down the homes for girls, establish proper and respectable orphanages, and find and prosecute the people running the baby selling operation (ouch, ouch).
He also doesn’t expect to find Catie had a child. Her lack of propriety is such a turn off to Tradwick that he almost drops the case (ouch, ouch, ouch). But what makes Tradwick really interesting, I think, is that while he’s high in the instep in his personal life, in his social life, he lives a bit more loose…or he at least appears to. Regarded as the “Don Juan of the Beau Monde,” he’s great at flirting and living as if he has no morals, but he always goes to his house at the end of the night, and never has sleepovers (if you catch my meaning).
In other words, he’s a very complex guy.
I’m just starting Lesson Three in SSF and I’ll start to dig deep into the first act. I’m looking forward to that now that I know more about Tradwick and what makes him tick. Catie is no simple miss, either. She’s grown up a lot during this whole ordeal and she’s not the catty society miss she once was. She’ll be a challenge for him.
I’ll report more as the story develops. In Three Proposal news, however, I DID clean up my MS (all the chapters were out of order and misnumbered) and I’ve edited a few more chapters, so I’m making progress. The slate is pretty clean this week in terms of other non-writing activities, so the goal is to get through the wedding scene by then. It’s a lot, but aim high, right?
Have you started working on something new? Any new character or plot discoveries you want to share?