Jane Graves had been writing her whole life but turned her attentions to romance just a few years ago. She was a finalist in the 1999 Romance Writers Association Golden Heart contest. She lives with her husband and sixteen-year-old daughter, where she...read more
Jane Graves had been writing her whole life but turned her attentions to romance just a few years ago. She was a finalist in the 1999 Romance Writers Association Golden Heart contest. She lives with her husband and sixteen-year-old daughter, where she is at work on her next book.
In the real world, wishing bad things on good people would be an appalling thing to do. In the fictional world, it's absolutely essential!
Watching nice people in nice situations having nice conversations and doing nice things can be, in a word, boring. Watching strong characters facing insurmountable odds and overcoming them can be fascinating.
This brings me to my favorite plotting/characterization device: "The Worst Case Scenario." When plotting, I sit back and ask myself: What's the worst thing that could happen to thischaracter? In my October book, WILD AT HEART, Alex DeMarco is a tough, honorable, by-the-book cop. I had to ask myself: What's the worst thing that could possibly happen to a man like him? How about a murder accusation? Suddenly his world is shattered--the very institution from which he draws his identity has turned on him, accusing him of a crime he didn't commit.
The heroine of WILD AT HEART is Valerie Parker, a private investigator who's the closest thing Alex has to an eyewitness to the crime. But a willing witness would make things far too easy on Alex. So I asked myself: What would make his situation even worse? What if Val had been a cadet Alex had dismissed from the police academy five years earlier, the day after they spent a passionate night together? Now Alex is faced not only with a murder accusation, but the one woman who might be able to clear his name is holding a heavy grudge against him. Throw in his unresolved romantic feelings toward her, and suddenly he has a real character-revealing challenge ahead of him.
I'm a nice, friendly, agreeable person in my personal life. (Most of the time, anyway!) But as a writer, I succeed only when I make my fictional characters suffer. Imagining their "Worst Case Scenario" gives me all kinds of fun and exciting elements on which to build a great story.