Hey, everyone! Today as part of Finding Swoons in Books, Elizabeth Fama, author of the fantastic Monstrous Beauty and upcoming Plus One shares a bit about her writing process for the romance in Plus One and just Plus One in general. Enjoy!
When one of my books is ready for publication, I love to go back and read the outline that I sketched before I wrote the manuscript. It's just like looking at baby photos of someone in your family: you can pick out which features always looked the same and which ones grew and changed to look different. I wish I could show you the entire, sometimes hilarious outline for Plus One, but of course it's full of spoilers (some of which are actually now dead wrong), and a few ideas that are so stupid they're head-slappers.
With the exception of Monstrous Beauty, my outlines are often not terribly detailed--they're more to give me an idea of where the story should go emotionally, and what the characters want. I usually know the beginning and the end, and very little of the middle. As I'm writing, future plot points occur to me, so I pop them in the outline to make sure I won't forget. And with every single outline to date, I've found myself listing an exact event--or even an exact line--that I know must be in the story. In Plus One, I knew there was going to be a scene similar to the "As you wiiiiish" moment in The Princess Bride, where a single phrase makes Buttercup realize that the Dread Pirate Roberts is really Westley, the boy she loves. (Mission accomplished not once but twice in Plus One. But I can't tell you how it happened, because spoilers.)
Originally I thought the chemistry of the main characters in the book would follow a sort of buddy road-trip model, where the two characters were thrown together, like Jack Walsh and Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas in Midnight Run. In their animosity, they wouldn't realize how compatible they were. (I have a parenthetical note to myself: "Why not just steal the format of Midnight Run outright?") But as I started to see how serious the civil-liberties issues were in the Day/Night divide I had created, I gradually gave up on the idea of lighthearted humor. What Sol was going through was just too painful, and her circumstance weighed heavily on me even when I wasn't at my laptop working. She became brooding, deeply passionate, painfully despairing, and bereft--there was no other response that an intelligent and courageous character could have in her situation. I knew that she needed not just a sparring buddy, but someone with the guts to handle her passion, someone who respected how unusual she was in a world full of people who complacently accepted the status quo.
Automatically, the tenor of their potential romance changed. You can't have a crisis where the stakes are so high, the passion so innervated, the relationship so uncertain, and the characters so smart and compatible without having--how can I put this?--mega intensity between the lovers. They're certain they're going to lose each other, at any moment, and it creates a focus to their goals and an immediacy in their relationship that nearly lit my screen on fire as I typed. Suddenly, that little baby romance I had sketched in the outline was all grown up into a serious partnership in the book. And it was fiery enough to burn down the rest of their world...not just my desk.