Guest blogger: Lisa Heidke
When it comes to plot and character, it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg. Which comes first?
With my first three books, it was definitely character. The protagonist came to mind and from there, the plot developed.
However, the idea for It Started with a Kiss, my latest release, came about because I wanted to explore how newly single women find themselves again after a long-term relationship breakdown. Not necessarily their sexual lives, but just themselves and their identity? After you’ve been with the same partner for five, ten, twenty+ years, how do you go about meeting new people to discover who you are? (So that’s plot, isn’t it?)
Having that idea, I created protagonist, Friday Jones, threw her into a crisis—marriage breakdown—and developed the story from there. Writing the first draft, I was very much focused on Friday’s character, all the time thinking ‘what would Friday do in this situation?’
The fact that online dating takes centre stage in the novel when Friday joins KissMeCupid.com came completely out of the blue. When I first started writing the story, I had no idea that Friday’s best friend, Rosie, would sign Friday up to a dating website. Creating that plot line lead to a few humorous and embarrassing scenes that were great to write. To add to the drama, Rosie runs a divorce party business. Researching that was also a lot of fun.
With my previous book, Stella makes Good, the inspiration was based on a tiny article I read in The North Shore Times about a police raid at a local swingers party. I thought, ‘hmm what if you innocently went there thinking it was just a daggy suburban party?’ It threw up lots of questions like ‘what if you saw someone who definitely shouldn’t be there? Do you tell their partner or not? What are the moral and real implications if you keep what you saw a secret?’ So, I guess this story was plot driven as well.
My idea for my third novel, Claudia’s Big Break, came about because I wanted to explore the relationships between long-time best girlfriends—throw them together for a two-week holiday at a crucial time in their lives when they have also lost emotional touch with each other—and watch the sparks fly. That one was definitely character driven.
With What Kate did Next, I wanted the main character—married mother of two, Kate—to approach her thirty-sixth birthday with the thought, ‘Why are the dreams I had for myself at twenty no closer to fruition, sixteen years down the track?’ Kate needed to ask herself, ‘Is that all there is?’ When she does, she starts taking risks, both personally and professionally.
When I started writing Lucy Springer Gets Even, the character of Lucy was very clear to me. Her husband was going to leave her in the first sentence, leaving the remaining 85,000 words being about Lucy overcoming her marriage breakdown, getting in touch with her challenging children and reigning in her renovation from hell … all the while making sure her life is better and more fulfilling than it was before.
I think the reason character often comes first for me is that I love writing dialogue. As soon as I create a character, words start tumbling from their mouths. As silly as it sounds, my characters start chattering and soon enough, a story starts to take shape.
Of course, throughout my novels, the plot serves to propel the characters forward and force them to develop and grow from the women they were on page one.
But back to It Started with a Kiss. I hope Friday’s story will give the reader a humorous (mostly) insight into the dating world in 2015 and I think it will resonate with women, whatever their age and state of their romantic life.
So what pulls you into a story? Characters? Plot? A bit of both.
I have two copies of It Started with a Kiss to give away. Leave a comment below and you will go in the draw. The giveaway closes on 10 May 2015. (The giveaway is now closed. The winners were Mary P and Maggie M.)
After the pain of her marriage breakup, Friday Jones makes some major blunders – from a misguided affair to online dating disasters. But can heartbreak actually be the best thing that ever happened to her?
Friday Jones is distraught when Liam, her husband of nearly twenty years and the father of their teenage daughters, tells her their marriage is over. Still heartbroken many months later, Friday is deeply flattered when a funny, handsome man takes an interest in her. From their very first kiss, Friday finds it difficult to control her attraction for him despite numerous warning signals.
When Friday’s best friend, Rosie, discovers Friday is risking further emotional pain she convinces her to end the relationship and join a dating website. But not long after Friday dives into the world of online romance she starts taking wrong turns. Could one of her flings have become a little too obsessed with her? And has the time come to step back and take a good look at where she’s going in life?