A couple of weeks ago, I started writing the first draft of Special Mission, the second book in the West Virginia set for Heartsong Presents. I can't help but think about my writing process and how much it's changed over the years.
When I first started out, my goal was to wow an editor. However, now I want to entertain my readers while making them worry about my characters. Sure, I want my editor to love my books, but I view her as my first reader. I see my writing now as a series of goals—mine, my characters' the editor's, the marketing department's, and most importantly, the readers'.
In my first West Virginia Heartsong Presents, Noah's Ark, my heroine's goal was to find herself and figure out what she wanted in life. The hero knew what he wanted, but he didn't know where work left off and his personal life began. As I set out to explore their internal conflicts, I had to dig deep to find what really made these people who they are in the story.
Characters in a book have to be well motivated in all of their actions, unlike real life where they can do things "just because." Each thought, scene, and conversation needs to have a purpose and give the reader one of several things: more insight about the people in the story, a way to relate to these characters, incentive to worry (especially close to the end where all hope appears to be lost), a logical progression to the conclusion, and a satisfying ending.
In Peachtree Dreams, my 3-in-1 Georgia set, my heroines all have conflicts that keep them from falling in love in the beginning of the stories. In Love's Image, Shannon is torn between living her mother's dream and doing what she knows deep in her heart is right for her. Jill in Double Blessing has emotional issues involving conditional love. In If the Dress Fits, bridal boutique owner Cindi's dream of happily-ever-after is shattered when her parents separate. In all three of these stories, my goal was to give my readers hope and provide entertainment while showing the power of faith in Jesus. Peachtree Dreams will be available next month.