Thursday, September 14, 2006

Difficult Choices

One thing I love about modern romance is that there is room for books that do not contain an obvious hero. The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich and the Pink series by Stephanie Feagan are the most popular examples. There's no obvious choice for Stephanie Plum between Ranger and Joe, or for Pink between Ed and Steve. And that is so much fun!

There's a new element of excitement in reading romance books, or books that contain romance, without knowing who the heroine will wind up with. It's even better in books that aren't part of a series because you get the gratification of her choice by the end of the book.

But boy, does it present a conundrum to the author! You see, as a reader, I can develop a preference and wait to be satisfied or surprised by the way the story pans out, or the choice the heroine makes (sometimes by the end it's no choice, if one of the heroes becomes less than heroic, or even villainous). A skilled author will make the reader agree with the resolution, even if it wasn't where she thought the story was going.

But when you're trying to be that skilled author, and you don't know who to pick, that can be a problem.

In my book Black Widow, which is currently homeless, the heroine has three potential heroes in the story. One is a police chief, and he's solid and good and unjudgmental. But she's been engaging in criminal activity, and when she finds the guy she's looking for, she's not sure if she'll do something that would be unforgivable to him. Then there's the agent. He gets her. He, too, can help her, and he won't care what she's done. But she has hopes for a normal life, and he would not fit into that. Finally, there's the PI she engaged when her husband's plane first crashed and she woke up alive but with a stunning power and the desire to find who had tried to kill them. He's been a partner, a guide, a friend. He doesn't deserve what she does to him, unintentionally, and might not have her even if she wanted him. In the end, she does what she has to do, finds a way to heal from it, and then makes her choice. In the end, there was only one choice for her to make.

But my current book...oy! Every time I think I know which guy she's choosing, the other one comes along and changes my mind. One is her mentor and her leader. His dedication to responsibility keeps him from letting her know how he feels, but when it gets too much, the result is explosive. The other is a new guy, one with an agenda he won't reveal. She's suspicious of him and drawn to him at the same time. Both men are worthy of her. Both are noble and heroic in the super sense as well as the literary sense (though only one has powers). I'm just under 3/4 of the way through the book and I'm going insane.

I'm dying to have someone read what I have so far and tell me who she should choose, but that would be cheating. The heroine has to make the choice. That's the only way it will work.

I just wish she'd give me a hint.


Victoria said...

Are you sure we're not writing the same book? LOL
I have the exact same issue right now. Both guys are perfect for her and I have no idea who she should pick. What you wrote is exactly what I'm dealing with right now!
And what if the reader says she picked the wrong guy? aahhh!!!
p.s. At first glance, I thought the word verification said "cuss". Appropriate, huh?

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Oooh, I can't wait to read your book now!

Don't worry about the reader. If you're happy at the end, most readers will be, too.

I think I have it figured out. Not sure, but it's leaning more heavily in one direction.

C.U. said...

Sounds like she needs a bad boy, far from noble, evilly handsome, and a terror in bed, but also destined to be nothing but terror for her and their kids someday.

But there's the rub - he'll NEED to be a terror to defend against their son, who grows up as a natural enemy to Mom and Dad - and the world! - because of the biological civil war waging within...

A gene mutation from Mom's plane crash passed down to him attack like white blood cells do a virus the evil hormones driving Dad through life.

Life will suck for a while, but it all washes out in the end - Miserable Mom and Dastardly Dad end up relieved - delicious irony - at saving the world from the very demonspawn they brought into it.

C.U. said...

Or, I guess, she could forego all that drama and try to pick from one of the good ones. :)

Typing Slave said...

Don't say you're dying for someone to read the damn book and then withdraw the offer. Sheesh! You know I want to read that one.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

C.U., you're too funny. You should write that first version!

Jody, you scare me. I can't let you read it yet. :)

C.U. said...

Natalie, I appreciate your reply, and am relieved you didn't take it like sarcasm. Wasn't meant to be. I'm VERY glad you're the writer in the family!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Actually, it sounds like a very cool horror novel, a la Dean Koontz. You have just as much talent as I do--go for it! LOL