Sunday, November 9, 2014

Author Hebby Roman: Writing Seat of the Pants Versus Obsessive Compulsive

Raul de Porcelos, a dedicated Knight Templar, is duty bound to bring orphaned Irish Princess Cahira O'Donnell to wed the Earl of Orkney, Raul's lord. But Cahira has a mind of her own and resists the handsome Templar, refusing to relinquish the castle and lands that her family died to protect.

Thrown together by fate, they come to know each other and a forbidden passion is kindled.  Who will be the first to surrender to desire, the warrior-princess or the warrior-monk?
Author Hebby Roman discusses seat of the pants verses the obsessive compulsive in writing.
Strange name for a blog, but what I'm asking is: which kind of writer are you, a seat of the pants type or an obsessive compulsive type? I personally know lots of authors who have brilliant story beginnings and then they go with it and let the story unravel organically. I envy those writers because for me, beginning a story is about as painful as giving birth.
I'm the second type, the obsessively organized, compulsive writer. When I started writing, I was totally freaked out about writing dialogue. I was the Czarina of telling, not showing. I avoided that scary stuff by writing a long outline of my story, detailing every twist and turn of the plot, along with the characters' reactions and feelings.

I wrote my first historical romances from long outlines, and I never had a saggy middle. Even better, my outlines helped me to know what journey the characters needed and how the book should end. Sounds pretty good but then my fellow writers convinced me that adhering to a strict outline stifled my creativity. I listened and realized my characters were feeling the "pinch." They wanted to be released from their strait-laced outline. I decided to change my approach, and I zeroed in on the characters' backstory and their life experiences. I put the h/h together and let the magic begin. I also did a high-level, general outline to direct the overall arc of the story.

For example, in THE BEST BET (my second contemporary romance), the heroine has been strongly influenced by her father to put her ambition above finding love. I leave it to my hero's unwavering patience, unconditional love, and story elements to change her mind, so she can take a chance on love.

THE BEST GAME is a story about two strong, beautiful, and charismatic individuals. The hero's a big frog in a small pond: a handsome ex-jock type and very successful salesman. The heroine is a glamorous New York model. So what's the problem? They're both so accomplished they don't trust the other person to love them for their real selves, warts and all. I had to thrust them into situations where trust could grow between them.

In my historical, featured here, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, I constructed it based on the concept of a medieval version of the Thornbirds, where a celibate warrior-monk, who's also bastard-born, falls in love with an Irish princess. The princess falls in love with the hero, despite his birth and vocation. But the hero feels he has to strive to win her regard and affection to overcome the difference in their ranks. Not to mention, he has to come to terms with what he will do about his vow of celibacy and his Templar Order. History intervenes in the form of the Templar purge, which helps to compel the story to its end. Again, though, you can see how the h/h's backstory propels the romance.

Backstory is key, along with a little bit of obsessiveness in the form of a general outline. When you put the two together and let your characters "talk" to you, they will lead you through the trials and tribulations they need to tackle and overcome in order to fall in love and find their happily-ever-after ending.


EXCERPT from The Princess and the Templar

The wind rose to a shriek, sounding like a woman in travail. The sea heaved and churned. The ship leaned sharply. Cahira felt her feet slipping. She grabbed for the rail, but her cold hands were too stiff. The rail slipped from her grasp, and she was falling.

Raul caught her in his strong arms. She placed one hand on his broad chest and felt his heart beating beneath his tunic. At the touch of her hand, his pulse leapt and raced. Realizing his response, heat suffused her. She licked her lips and removed her hand. She was steady now, but he didn’t release her. His unfathomable black gaze captured hers and they stood, clasped in each other’s arms.

He bent his head, and his lips were within inches of hers. Her heart leapt, too, plunging in a mad gallop. Was he going to kiss her again? Without thinking, she leaned closer, willing him to kiss her, craving the forbidden intimacy. But at the last moment, he drew back. Her breath stopped in her chest, and she remained perfectly still. Her shoulders sagged, but with her disappointment, came the sharp-edged stab of guilt. For surely, she was a wanton.

He possessed iron self-control. She knew because she’d felt his body’s response, sensed he wanted to kiss her as badly as she wanted him to.

She stepped back and grasped the ship’s rail. “Thank you for stopping me from going overboard.”

He reached out, and his strong fingers cupped her chin, his touch burning her chilled skin. “No need to thank me.” His ebony eyes gleamed, the darker pupils narrowing. His gaze moved over her like a caress. “Your face is as cold as fresh snow.” he murmured huskily.  Without warning, his iron control reasserted itself, and he suddenly released her, clearing his throat. “You should go to your cabin. We can talk about the journey later.” 

How dare he dismiss her? And his smooth words didn’t fool her, either. He hadn’t touched her again to learn if she was cold or not. Nay, the yearning she’d glimpsed in his eyes mirrored the throb in her own body. 

How much longer could they go on torturing each other?


You can find Hebby at:

You can find The Princess and the Templar at:

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