My virgin journey into ghostwriting sexy romance novels started out a little bumpy and ended with a bang. I had precious little time to recover, to bask in the warmth of my good reviews, or wallow in self-pity at the bad ones, because Deborah (my boss) started sending me chapter outlines on our next project while the last one was still in the Top 10 on Amazon.
This new project posed a couple challenges for me initially, because it involved a main character who was supposed to be a scientist, along with some fairly detailed scenes of medical procedures that I have no prior experience with. I am a generally well-rounded person. If you read my bio, you’ll see I’ve pretty much been there and done that – except when it comes to deep science and higher level mathematics.
But what the heck, right? There’s always the internet.
I got the first six chapter outlines from Deborah and poured right in. The character I had to write, aside from being a scientist, had other qualities that I can relate to very well, so that’s where I placed my creative emphasis. I even began to use the narrative to explain why this otherwise bookish, sensitive, rather damaged girl, who was actually more attuned to poetry and literature, had wound up in the sciences. (I blamed it on the villain. Someone needed to take the blame. She had no business there!)
The further I got into the plot, the less science-geek this character became. And there were other problems too. Deborah’s outline called for her to have been involved in a really bad, terribly abusive, previous relationship. But this character’s back-story didn’t add up (for me) to creating the kind of vulnerability required to allow the character to fall under the control of such an evil guy. Women with idyllic childhoods and happy father-daughter relationships rarely slip under the spell of abusive men as teenagers.
There were other issues too, but I just tried to go with the outline as it was given to me, and not be a problem child. (The last thing you want to do is question whether the person who is banking your auto-repairs knows what they are doing, right?)
A couple days passed and no new outline material came my way. I’m in the middle of this plot, up to my ears in it, and suddenly – nothing. Deborah apologized for the delay, citing family issues (all understandable), and begged my patience, promising to get me new material the next day. That day came and went, and so did another.
I hate sitting on my hands. I hate losing momentum. And to make matters worse, in this dead time all I could do was think about all the things about this plot that didn’t work for me, how they could be improved on, and where it could go if those new directions were taken.
So… instead of getting impatient and pissy (as I would have done, when I was younger), I seized the opportunity. I put together an email listing all the issues I had with the plot and the characters, how I might resolve them (since we’re taking a break anyway, why not make good use of the time). I proposed a rough outline with the changes, taking the story arc all the way to the end and a happily-ever-after conclusion. I then offered to provide Deborah with a fully comprehensive outline for her approval, if she was interested in moving in this direction.
I began and ended this note with a solid disclaimer that I *really* did not want to be presumptuous and that if I was out of line by offering the suggestions, it would not hurt my feelings in the least if she chose to stick to the original plan. I was just putting the offer out there in case she was in the weeds.
About an hour after sending my note to Deborah, she responded with the following;
“I think this would be awesome! Sorry — it’s been a rough week. And yes, I had been struggling with all this in the book as well. I’m 100% on board! I like the idea of all of these plot changes!”
It pays to be pro-active.
Deborah approved the comprehensive outline I sent her a couple days later, as well as the changes made to the earlier chapters to accommodate the plot/character revisions. And she paid me (very well) for the outline, in addition to the contracted work.
I finished the last chapter a few days ago (almost a week before the scheduled deadline), and spent the day yesterday reading the entire book beginning to end to discover discrepancies in the narrative, mistakes, typos, etc. I sent those brief notes to Deborah last night, and I hope I’ll get another chance to do a final review/edit before the thing goes live on Amazon in a few weeks.
I’ll update this post to let you all know how it performs! I know this book is tighter than the last one, just because it’s “all mine” rather than a melting pot of three author’s voices. I don’t know if the plot is as good, or if it will resonate with the readers. Time will tell.