Tag Archive | plot

Cute Meets, Contrariness, and Compelling Beginnings

My guest this week is Amanda Cabot. Amanda Cabot’s dream of selling a book before her thirtieth birthday came true, and she’s now the author of more than thirty-five novels. Her inspirational romances have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, have garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and have been nominated for the ACFW Carol, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers Best awards. You can see more about Amanda Cabot on FacebookTwitter – and visit her blog.

There are many standard ways to make things work in books, but once started, authors’ minds go in a million different directions. Here is what Amanda Cabot says about that.

How does a writer’s mind work? If you asked my husband that, he’d probably say something about convoluted ways, and he’d be right. Here’s an example. As writers, we all know the importance of a compelling beginning. When I started writing, more years ago than I’m going to admit, conventional wisdom said an author had three pages to hook an agent, editor, or reader. Now, thanks to what I call the Twitter Phenomenon, attention spans are shorter, and we have no more than a page to convince readers to invest their time and money in a book.

How do you do that? If you’re writing romance as I do, one proven technique is the cute meet.   You know what I mean, don’t you?   Cute meets are a staple of novels and Hollywood. We’ve all seen the couple that bumps into each other – literally – or is trapped on a stalled elevator. They gaze into each other’s eyes and instantly fall in love. Oh, there will be snags along the way, times when they’re convinced that it wasn’t meant to be, but neither of them can forget the immediate connection or the sense that this is the one and only love for them.

Cute meets are a time-honored technique for one very good reason: they work. I could have started A Tender Hope, the book that’s releasing next March, that way, but here’s where contrariness comes into play.   I didn’t want to use the cute meet.   I didn’t want Thea and Jackson to know that they were meant for each other, at least not at the beginning.   And so I started asking myself what I did want for their first meeting, and my brain – moving in the convoluted ways a writer’s brain does – started asking “what if” and then giving me answers.

Here’s what I came up with. When Thea arrives at her new home and finds Jackson standing on the front porch, a baby in his arms, she’s horrified. The pain of losing her own baby is still so fresh that the absolute last thing she wants is to care for a baby. And then there’s the fact that when she climbs out of her buggy, Jackson, a Texas Ranger who’s searching for the female member of a notorious gang, looks at her with shock and disappointment. What’s that all about?

Does this not-cute meet work? I hope so.

Well, I think it works. Of course now I have to wait until March to find out.