Thursday, December 20, 2018

My "Soap Opera" Storylines

© Can Stock Photo / 1Raymond
As I mentioned in my earlier post, Blame it on Too Many Soap Operas and My Misspent Youth, I was once a soap opera junkie, and even though I no longer watch the soaps, they still have a big influence on my writing. Fiction is all about conflict, and when it comes to writing romantic fiction soap operas are a great model to work from. Soap writers have relied on a handful of basic plotlines for decades because they consistently work and keep viewers watching. I in turn use my own variations of these plotlines and, interestingly enough, the comment I hear the most from readers is that they can't put the book down. So, here are the standard soap plotlines that I use.

1) The Romantic Triangle. I've done my fair share of romantic triangles in my books, and they work amazingly well. In The Betrayal, leading lady Emily's cousin, Annette, thinks she's much better suited for Emily's husband than Emily is. In The Letter, I have Danny's ex-girlfriend, Martha, who refuses to let him go. My personal favorite, however is the father-son triangle in The Reunion, when Jeremy sets his sites on Dad's old flame. 

2) Extramarital AffairsWhen it comes to creating romantic conflict, few things work as well as adultery. The Deception is the story of a woman who unknowingly becomes involved with a married man, while The Betrayal is the story of a wife who's been cheated on. Both women face unintended consequences and both books are reader favorites. Expect to see more adultery themed novels in the future. 

3) The Big Frame UpAlas poor Emily. The cheated on wife in The Betrayal is betrayed a second time when she's framed for a crime she didn't commit. This happens in real life, and I may use it again in a future novel.

4) Catastrophic Diseases or Injuries. This is one area where soap operas can and often do go over the top, and because I strive for accuracy I take the time to do my homework. Both Cassie, in The Journey, and Rachel in The Stalker, suffer traumatic injuries, and my research included consulting with friends who are former nurses and who were more than happy to help me write some of those scenes. 

5) Amnesia. Amnesia is actually a rare condition, although it's been a soap opera staple for decades. I've only used it once, and that was with Jeremy in The Journey. Again I took the time to research it carefully, and a former nurse beta read the manuscript. But because it is so rare, I'll never use it in another novel. 

6) Returning from the Dead.  Another extremely rare event in real life, but often used on soaps. Again I did it with Jeremy in The Journey. It made a great story and readers loved it, but it will never be done again.

7) Long Lost Family Members. The Deception includes a subplot in which a lead character is unexpectedly reunited with a long-lost family member, and readers tell me it was their favorite part of the story. Mine too.

And there you have it. Stories of star crossed lovers have worked since Romeo and Juliet, and as my high school drama teacher once said, soap operas are based on real-life experiences, somewhat exaggerated. And that's what makes them so entertaining.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Meet Josh Ramsey -- the Mystery Man in "The Letter"

© Can Stock Photo / curaphotography
Sometimes I'll have one idea in mind for a character, but as I get into the story the character may have other ideas. Such was the case with Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion, and it happened again with Josh Ramsey in The Letter.

Young and ambitious, Josh is a financial planner by day, and an artist by night. His goal is to retire young and devote himself full-time to his art. Like Jeremy, Josh was meant to an antagonist, but as the character came to life he turned out to be quite charming. As I kept working with him I realized he had the potential to go much farther than I'd originally planned, and that's when I really started liking him. So I created an aura of mystery about him. Whose side is he really on? And is he friend or foe? Truth be known, he's a little of both, and his true intentions are revealed in an ending that was also far different than what I'd originally planned. And that's what makes writing fun. It's those characters, and storylines, that don't come out as planned. They come out much, much better.

Now, just so you know, Josh is a purely fictitious character and was not inspired by anyone I've known in real life.

The Letter is available on Amazon and To read a free sample chapter click here.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Remembering Gloria

Photo by Marina Martindale
It's been a challenging couple of weeks. My  dear friend, and proofreader, Gloria Gray, suffered a serious stoke earlier this month, and, sadly, she has passed away from complications.

Gloria was my proofreader for The Stalker, and The Letter. She had been a proofreader for a newspaper for many years, and she was a delight to work with. She had an eagle eye when it came to finding typos, misspellings or wrong homonyms. She would also let me know if a paragraph seemed ambiguous or confusing so I could change the phrasing. She used to talk about the characters and the things they did. She really loved my books, and was one of my biggest fans. I talked with her a few times about my current book in progress, The Scandal, and she told me how she really looked forward to proofreading it.

Gloria and I also shared a love of music. In fact, we met through a mutual friend who is a jazz singer. I also took her with me to a few other musician friends' gigs, and she always enjoyed them. 

People like Gloria don't come along everyday. She had a good heart and she always had your back. She will most certainly be missed.