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#TBT: Brainstorming ‘The Art of Romance’ | #amwriting

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Originally published August 31, 2010

Okay, y’all know me and my different methods—all visual—of working out my story ideas.

First, there are the notes I made about the characters when originally coming up with the story idea, as well as things that came up when writing the first book of the series:

And of course, there’s the synopsis I wrote that the publisher bought the series from.

But still, I somehow always manage to get myself lost after starting the book. Sometimes it’s about 1/3 of the way through. With The Art of Romance, it’s at the beginning of Chapter Three!

So, since I’m going to have a few hours of alone-time with my laptop in the car this week and a lot more than a few hours in the car next week, I decided I needed to know where the story is going.

Now, you’ve seen me post the picture of when I use Post-it Notes to do scene cards to work out the direction of a story by figuring out what scenes I’ve already planned for still need to be written:

Scene cards from Ransome’s Crossing

But even after reading the synopsis for The Art of Romance, I still didn’t have a clear picture of the scenes/conflicts (other than the main story conflict) that need to happen in the story. So, since I was preparing to teach a session on writing synopses using Billy Mernit’s Seven Story Beats, I decided I needed to go back to the beginning with this story and outline the synopsis in the way I was getting ready to teach forty other writers to do it.

So, I pulled out the trusty Post-it Note Flip Chart Pad (down to only three or four sheets—yikes! Time for a new one!) and started outlining:

(The Post-it Notes along the top and on the page are questions and ideas for the characters/settings.) And this week, I’ve got two editing projects clamoring for my attention in addition to needing to get moving on this manuscript (only 46 days left until deadline—which means I need to be writing at least 2,000 words a day on this thing!).

Here’s the story summary:

      English professor Caylor Evans moved in with her grandmother five years ago when Sassy’s eyesight became too poor to get her driver’s license renewed. Though she is now writing sweet/inspirational romance novels, Caylor still draws inspiration for her heroes from the portfolio of covers and sample images drawn/painted by Patrick Callaghan for the steamy romances she used to write (as “Melanie Mason”), and dreams of meeting a man like that cover model.

      After losing his teaching position at a prestigious art college and being shunned by the fine-arts community in Philadelphia, artist Dylan Bradley has returned home to Nashville to regroup and determine the next step for his life. His grandparents offer him their guest house for as long as he wants it—along with plenty of opportunities to meet young women. Though it was years ago, Dylan is uncomfortable with the fact that his face—slightly disguised—is on the covers of half a dozen steamy romance novels by Melanie Mason, the artwork he did to put himself through college under the pseudonym Patrick Callaghan. Especially after he meets Caylor Evans, a woman who has her life together in a way he only dreams of. Will Caylor and Dylan learn that the true art of romance is grounded in honesty and truth?

And here’s the first draft of Chapter One.

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