Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

How Often Can You Recycle Plot Ideas to Keep Your Series Going?

Recycling writing ideas has been part writing almost since novels began.

Like I seem to remember a comment that runs along the lines of --  a man with a fortune is surely in want of a wife.

That premise has been used over and over again, especially among writers of romances. Poor girl wins the heart of a rich man. Rich girl wins the heart of a rich man. Middle class girl wins the heart of a rich man. Then, someone wants to be different, and they decide to switch the paradigm around. Poor boy wins the heart of a rich girl.  etc. etc.

One writer who squeezes the most out of that premise is Stephanie Laurens. She does it so well that she lands on the New York Times Best Seller lists regularly. Her best-selling Cynster series is based on the idea that a masterful rich man feels something missing from his life and wins the hearts of a worthy girl from at least the gentry to set up a family to fill the void. Very often, Laurens add a credible mystery to make the storyline more interesting.

With The Masterful Mr. Montague, Laurens has done a her double squeeze -- linking a romance to a mystery being investigated by Barnaby Adair and Penelope nee Cynster plus the Stokes couple. How two wives get included in their husbands work in late Regency times is one of the subplots of the book. Laurens is even trying to polish the mystery aspects of her stories by setting up a sub-series -- Barnaby Adair's Casebooks. I finished reading the book, but felt the storyline was as worn as a thread-bare carpet. 

Oh, there's a mystery to be solved, three murders and one attempted, but the perpetrator wasn't particularly hidden within the action. [I found it rather embarrassing for the usually acute characters didn't to interpret the clues faster.] Assorted Cynster ladies make cameo appearances to gossip about the suspects. The red herring turned out to be the most interesting part of the story line for me. [I don't think I've seen that particular scenario used before.] And yeah, the various couples get to enjoy moments of rapture, Laurens' style. Plus there're cute babies ... if you coo at such things.

More important, good craft techniques in setting up characters, settings, etc. are there in quantities enough to make me green with envy.

Yeah, there's the man of fortune who needs a wife to fill an emotional void. This time around, though, the romp travels a thread-bare path without much tension or innovative sparks. I usually enjoy Laurens' novels without reservation. This time, I'm sorry to say: I give it 3 Stars***. 

~~#~~ 

As usual, I've been running out of time ... everyday. It's getting a little tiresome. I'm not even playing much Mahjong.

Did get some something done though. First, I got my free, dark fantasy short story, set in the world of Andor -- The Ignoble Nobel Prize Winner -- published. It's up on Smashwords as I write in mobi, epub, PDF, and read-online. I rather like the manner in which I killed the demons, in an appropriate secular way, at the end. Even my critique group liked the ending.

Have also been working on the rewrite of Crossings  -- mostly because my critique group demanded I not end the story with Old Nance/Granny Nan dying. They wanted vengeance. So, I've devised another secular way to kill demons ... which meant I have to go back and forth to read the story so I can remove and add stuff, aka revise.

I'm keeping the slow beginning though. I knew I was breaking the "rules" when I drafted it. Yeah, I value my critique group, but I don't listen to them 100%. How about you, if you're a writer?

Now if I could only market well-enough to sell more than a hundred novellas a month. 
*Sigh*


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