Lynn Dean joins us today with an encouraging story for authors about her work in progress. She’ll draw from names of readers who “Like” and follow her Facebook page and leave a comment for an ebook copy of More Precious Than Gold, the first novel in her Sangre de Cristo series set during gold rush days in New Mexico Territory.
This mountain range has intrigued me for years, so I really appreciated all the specific history and imagery in these novels. Now, here’s Lynn:
Life rarely turns out the way we think it will.
Since good stories model real life, writers probably shouldn’t be surprised when a work in progress takes on a life of its own. Sometimes a character we thought would play a minor role suddenly steals center stage and demands to be heard. Other times our manuscript changes in medias res because we discover new information or contrive a plot twist. But occasionally our story changes because of outside influences beyond our control.
When I began writing Lilacs many years ago, a friend surprised me with a research trip to Mackinac Island where the story is set. It was a magnanimous gesture. I’d always wanted to go, and she’d already bought the tickets, so what could I say but “thank you”?
It was 40 degrees and raining sideways the weekend we visited, but the island was perfect. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and enjoyed a carriage tour. Along the way I shared my story idea and some interesting history about the hotel, including a long-ago scandal. I wasn’t sure I would mention that event, explaining that it would be difficult to handle delicately so nothing would reflect poorly on the hotel or its current owners. For some reason, when we returned, my friend decided to “help” me by marching up to the concierge desk, telling the hotel representative that I was writing a book, and asking for details about the scandal. The stunned man made a terse reply and left…and I couldn’t blame him!
Mortified, I shelved the whole project—all 45,000 words of it.
But readers know that dark moments are never the end of the story.
Fast forward. I’m at a writers’ conference in an interview with a literary agent who says she loves “Downton Abbey” stories with romantic settings and characters from different backgrounds and socio-economic classes. “Do you have any stories like that?” she asks.
It so happens I do!
I pitched the story I thought was ruined. She loved the concept, so I began to rewrite Lilacs with a different focus. I’m pleased to say the new story is better in every way than the original would have been.
Moral? Never give up, even when you think your plans are ruined. The dark moment is simply the crisis that forces us to get creative, opening new possibilities we would never have imagined otherwise.
LYNN DEAN lives near San Antonio, Texas—a near-perfect setting for a historical fiction writer. She loves to travel and meet people. Sooner or later, most of her experiences end up in a book. Keep up with what she’s writing at https://www.facebook.com/Wordsworth-PublishingLynn-Dean-161921870546466/.