Some of the best writing is some of the hardest to do.
There are times when you are writing and the words are flowing and you think you know how a scene will turn out. You have the goal in mind for the piece and the character arc. Then, when you’re watching the way the story unfolds, you’re looking left, the truck is on your right, and it plows into your proverbial story line and spins you off the freeway of free thinking.
This happened to me recently. I was writing a scene, it was a romance scene between the protagonist and her love interest, and after a courtship where the characters were forced to be restrained, the love interest decided to press some boundaries. Now, I’m not a big romance writer, but relationships make stories go round. However, just before the big fade to black, my stomach lurched and I realized the protagonist was Telling Me Something. The poor love interest chose poorly, and the protagonist felt fear towards his approach instead of lust.
Now, I waited for YEARS for Mulder and Scully to kiss. Years. I hated that ‘never quite the time’ that was the secondary theme of X-Files. I wanted them to kiss. I *needed* them to kiss.
So, here I am, finally getting to a point in the story where the protagonist and the love interest get to consummate their relationship, and the protagonist tells me that somewhere in her history, she’s been hurt before. This wasn’t something I knew about her earlier. And the love interest, through circumstances, has never shown her this side of him before. It’s always been there, but the story arc has forced him to not show that side.
And instead of the sexy sexy, I get the spin away, the wounded look, the “You should go,” and the defeated interest feeling like a monster and wanting to drown his sorrows.
And the wounded protagonist telling me her back story.
This was so hard to write! First of all, I want these characters to get together. I’m a rather impatient person, and I’ve been waiting patiently, all that set up, for this.
Secondly, it deals with a lot of feels. Historical feels, present feels, confused feels, hurt feels. Love Interest isn’t a monster; he just misread his lady’s signs. He actually feels quite bad for his mistake, which he recognized as a mistake very quickly. Protagonist isn’t a tease; she wasn’t expecting her White Knight to be a Bad Boy and the transition scared her. (The reader knows he’s been behaving for her since the beginning, and only just decided to trust her with who he is.)
This, by the way, is *much* more of what my thought process is now, when I’m writing, as opposed to when I wrote The Corsican. When I wrote The Corsican, I didn’t have character arcs planned out for the characters, I just knew what I wanted to happen in the stories. The two are interdependent, but I didn’t examine them very closely. I am only now learning enough about my craft to be critical about my work. Critical enough, at least, as opposed to before when it was just a challenge getting pen to paper.
Now, to keep finding these moments.