I have a book coming out in March – it’s my 35th story for the Harlequin Presents line, so you would think with a little experience I’d have a fairly good idea of what works and what doesn’t, wouldn’t you?
When I was coming up with the plot for this book – you would not believe how complicated I made it. (Really, you wouldn’t believe it.)
It was as if I deliberately went out of my way to make it as convoluted as possible. I twisted my brain into knots for several weeks trying to make it work. And I thought it was brilliant! I was very excited about doing my very complicated story because I was deluding myself into believing that this obviously meant it was going to be fantastic.
Needless to say, when it came to actually writing the story, it all fell apart pretty quickly! Disaster.
I’d forgotten the golden rule : keep it simple, stupid.
There’s a great quote by Robyn Donald – doyenne of many brilliant Mills and Boons and some of my favourites – ‘Keep it simple and go deep.’
That’s the thing though, sometimes keeping it simple is the hardest thing to do so we tie our brains into pretzels to avoid the fact that maybe we just don’t have a brilliant idea after all.
I now have Robyn Donald’s quote stuck on my computer to try and remember her words of wisdom when I’m in danger of straying down a thorny path.
Simplicity is good. But simple stories with deep emotions are the hardest to write, believe me!
A brilliantly complicated plot just masks the fact that you’ve lost the essence of the story somewhere along the way. There isn’t room in a 50,000 word book for an over – complicated plot. The focus has to be on the Hero and Heroine and their journey to HEA.
With my own story, when it stopped working because it was just too ridiculously over – complicated, I had to go back to the start and simplify it until it worked again. The result is ‘Claimed For The De Carrillo Twins.’
So the next time you’re tangling yourself into knots (or I am!) trying to make your story as brilliantly complicated as possible…stop and remember Robyn’s words: Keep it simple and go deep.
*If you would like to win a copy of this book to see for yourself what it became after the great plot purge, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org - include your postal address!) with Totes Bags ‘n’ Blogs in the subject header and I’ll pick a winner at random by March 3rd J