It is a Little Known Fact That Every Author is a Mess. (Just Kidding, But I Am.)
Let’s preface this by saying that sometimes you get something like… I don’t know, four ideas, and you can’t make them work. This is a pretty natural part of the writing process, and while when I’m midbook or midseries I try my hardest to make it work; sometimes the act of writing is just accepting things for what they are and quietly giving up.
And sometimes the act of writing is seeing a photo of a mushroom at four in the morning while you are binge watching comedy podcasts on youtube in an attempt to feel something, and then hearing the Hall of a Mountain King in the back of your head.
I present to you, a picture of a mushroom.
I saw this mushroom yesterday and immediately my mind went places, which was to the song In the Hall of the Mountain King. (Linked at the bottom of this post for you to listen to as you scroll back up through the mess and look at a photo of a mushroom for thinking purposes.)
Anyway, a photo of a mushroom.
Here is my highly scientific thought process, spoiler: I have ADHD.
Mushrooms…Trolls…Sleeping Beauty…Iceland… Dog… Twins…
Highly scientific, right? Trust me, it gets worse.
So taking those words I thought to myself, okay so what if there’s a village, and there’s a sickness, and it makes people fall asleep! And it was brought on by trolls! And what if this young woman (
because the best books are headed by young women) has a lover who falls victim to the sickness!
But then I encountered this problem, so let’s put up the disclaimer heading and change the title a little bit here so I get less mean messages from the guy who follows my blog.
How to Write a KISSING Book, but I Fall off the Wagon and Come Back with a Completely Different Idea to Plot Because I Saw a Picture of a Mushroom Once
Wow. All problems solved, crisis averted, let’s move on my fellow dumpster fires.
Okay so here’s the thing about kissing books: You’re not just selling the main character on the idea of a lover, you’re selling that buckaroo to the readers too.
As a professional reader of kissing books, I don’t take well to, “because I love him daddy,” because to be honest, I’m trying to put myself in the main character’s shoes here and kiss some handsome young magic boys so like, I can’t just accept these men for what they are– I. Need. To. See. Them.
So I have a problem. Cool. How am I going to solve it?
Someone else goes into the woods with her, in this case a twin brother who she is digruntled with because she likes sleeping boy, but like twin boy is mad? And mean to her because she treats her like his brother sometimes? Idk, he’s like in love with her and she’s all risking her life for his pretty much dead brother while he knows there’s trolls in these there woods. So he’s a simp. And a Moody Boy™️.
(Side note: One of my closest friends told me that in my books you can always tell who the love interest is going to be due to their ties to academia and like, freckles. Any mention of freckles. This offended me.
It should be known that you can always tell who my love interests would be not by the ink on their clothes nor the speckles on their skin, but by whichever one is the moodiest boy. God, am I sad.)
But then I go, “man, is this really utilizing every element of my story to its full potential?” And I watch a soap opera. And I listen to In the Hall of the Mountain King again, and I choose violence.
You see, I love drama.
Welcome to the Bethany Anne Lovejoy school of writing, where we love a good mess. The good thing about this: It’s amazing for making a plot.
Set the Trashcan on Fire, We’re Mauling This Idea
Welcome to the messiest part of the internet. Where I, B. A. Lovejoy, show you how I take a normal plot and make it long, complicated, and corrupt.
Here’s my thought process: We’ve got trolls. We’ve obviously got a troll system, right? Like which troll is deciding, “hey you know what we should do? Put all of our energy into absolutely ruining this village?” Who is he? Who is this man?
He’s a goddamn gem, that’s what he is.
We need to see him.
My god, wait, we need to love him!
That’s right girls and boys, we’re doing troll marriage! See my very complex thought process below.
So we’ve got this girl, she’s looking over her sexy, sleepy boy who she’s secretly loving and she goes, “this sure is sad.”
And basically the people in the village are like, “yeah, it is. You really like this boy, huh?”
And she’s like, “well, he sure does have a nice butt.” (I’ll give him a personality later.)
And the village is like, “enough to DIE FOR HIM?????”
And she’s basically like, “I’M SORRY, WHAT???”
And they’re like, “jk, I’m sorry, I was just in a silly funny mood there! But seriously, have you ever thought about giving up your life and becoming a troll king’s wife? We think that like, if he just experienced the miracle of physical touch or something, he might feel like not cursing us. I don’t know, just like a thought– I mean, if you truly loved whoever the heck that is, then it wouldn’t matter to you whether you could be with him or not, just that he’s happy. So you would sacrifice yourself to the troll king.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“So you agree, you’re sacrificing yourself to the troll king?”
“I mean, no–“
“Great, have fun with the troll king!”
And in the background the twin guy is like, “NOOOOOO, I LOVVVVVVVVED HER!”Absolutely brilliant! You can tell that I have a four year degree in Creative Writing.
Amazing, we have a plot.
Or a premise, but blugh.
Anyway, pitch paragraphs. For some reason I do this in present tense third person even though I write in first person past tense. I think this is because I’m trying to sell myself on actually writing these things and see how my readers will understand the story, but who really knows. Sometimes I just do stuff.
A great sleeping sickness has overtaken the land, and Magnus Jensen has fallen victim to it. For three long months, Astrid Árnadóttir has waited for him to wake up, unwilling to face a world in which the man she loves does not exist, and never knew how deeply she cared for him. But there is hope on the horizon when the village elders convene and decide to once again invoke an ancient rite to appease the Troll King who has sent plagues upon their land. A troll bride, they say, will go to the mountains, never to be seen again– and while Astrid pities the poor fool that will be sent, she can not help but think that it would be worth it, anything would be worth it, if it brought Magnus back.
Until the bride chosen is her, and she must sacrifice everything she has to marry the Troll King and live up in the mountains, never to see her family or her beloved Magnus again.
She knows that the drawing was rigged, she knows that this can not be; and yet she cannot argue either. Not when Magnus’s life is on the line.
And so she goes, knowing what they say of the King; knowing of his temper and his cantankerous ways, knowing of the cruel snow and the harsh beings that live in those mountains, and knowing all too well what she is giving up.
But unknowing that someone follows her. That the man who shares Magnus’s face would not let her go alone, not when being in love with her is all that he has known. His brother may die, his family may miss him– but he can not let the woman he loves be betrothed to another, not one with an inhuman face who lives in a desolate, tenebrous palace. He would do anything to get her back, to protect her from the clutches of the unknown.
Just as the Troll King would do anything to keep her by his side.
Cool. Now I want to write it.
Which brings us to another step before the next post.
Who the Hell Are These People?
Can’t have a plot without characters.
No, like honestly, I don’t think you can.
Did you know that in my four years of writing school, no one told me how to make a character? It was kind of an oversight, really, but whatever. I’m here. I’m gonna do it. Y’all don’t need to know everyone that’s in this story yet, just the core cast. The extras can just come when we need them.
How to Make a Well Rounded Character (To Grip Firmly Like a Barbie Doll and Rub Faces Against Another Character)
I’m going to quote a cinematic masterpiece, people, “ogres are like onions… Onions have layers. Ogres have layers, onions have layers.” Which is to say that characters are complex.
A good character is full of many contradictions; I know I’m going to get into hot water for saying that, but let’s be real here: I enjoy vintage dresses, vinyl, and well brewed coffee– That is who I am. But I also enjoy big blue alien books, dragon pirate media, drinking can after can of sparkling water like a feral animal, and Pete Davidson. All of that contradicts itself.
Real people contradict themselves.
You can put out to the world that you are this classy, well educated young woman with a passion for red lipstick and high concept fantasy novels, and also be an absolute garbage fire of a person who once ate instant coffee grounds with a spoon just because you were in a silly, funny mood. It’s a thing. Real people are like this.
We want our characters to be like real people, but better.
90% of the dialogue that you read in books would never happen in real life, characters give too much about themselves away and allude to future events. There’s foreshadowing, symbolism, and all of that crap that you just don’t have the time to do when you’re talking to your mailman. So you want to make a real person, but better.
Real people also have this idea of themselves, but let’s be honest, it never comes close to the truth.
So let’s go.
Astrid: Thinks of herself as a kind friend and devoted lover stuck in a tragic end, very self sacrificing and selfless. Is actually very rude, insistent, pushy, selfish, and blunt. Often misreads others intentions and thinks herself so high and mighty, can be spiteful if provoked, and would literally pull her own sister in front of her at the altar if it meant she wake Magnus and run off into the sunset.
Magnus: Is actually a plot device. Used for a plot twist. Sleeping dude, very pretty.
Magnus’s twin brother: Thinks of himself as a courageous, honorable young man who has done his duty to his village for most of his life, but can not let the things he loves slip away from him. Is actually a pessimistic, self serving piece of crap that happens to have a dog. Super holier than thou. Hates trolls.
Troll King: Sees himself as a troll king,
is actually a troll hunk. Feels that he is doing what is right for his people and repaying the debt of a seven year war, is actually seen as a monster by the people below. Feels that he should be alone in penance for what he has done, and that he is impatient and irrational. Is actually very patient and rational, very empathetic.
The Dog: Is a dog. Has no flaws. Just good.
Bam. Characters. Obviously you expand past this and give them interests and backgrounds, but I can’t do that for all of them without giving more plot away so… You know, throw in some dead parents and stuff. Maybe some fiddle playing, I don’t know.
Disclaimer:I’m likely not using these names. but more on that later.
Bing, bang, boom! You got yourself the beginnings of a plot. Now come look at this photo of my dog and listen to In the Hall of the Mountain King while scrolling slowly past a photo of a mushroom.
Where I am on Nanowrimo:
Want to write with me? Get some advice? Or just see how I’m doing and peer pressure me? Friend me on Nanowrimo.org.