Saturday, August 11, 2007

Behind the Scenes: Lost In NashVegas Take 2

Robin Rae McAfee had a boyfriend, Ricky.

Robin and Ricky. Cute, eh. Didn't do it on purpose, but felt Ricky was a good name for the hometown boyfriend.

Author and friend, Davis Bunn, loved and hated, Ricky. "I know what he's all about," Davis teased. "He's a scoundrel."

I wanted Ricky to be fun, tempting, but not for Robin. He was like so many - out for himself. The idea for a "girl on the side" came out of the scene by the river when Robin goes looking for him after turning down his marriage proposal.

Maryann just came out of the sunlight curtain and onto the page. I liked her. Apparently so did Ricky.

The ending of the river scene is one of my favorites.

One thing I liked about Robin was her dialog and internal thought process.

Graham verses Lee

One day while luncheoning with friend Allison Wilson, we brainstormed about Robin's Nashville love interest. And we both saw this man walking out of her closet and Robin thinking, "wow."

The idea of Lee walking out of Robin's life for a brief time came at the moment I wrote the first Bluebird Cafe scene. It just seemed too neat that Lee would be readily available. Now I realize having an ex-fiance reappear is kind of cliche, but hey, life is full of cliches!

Making the ex-fiance a famous country singer was just a fun idea, and in a way, good tension for Robin. Who wants to date a man who was engaged to a drop-dead gorgeous superstar?

Graham fulfilled an original idea that Robin would have a song stolen. The plan was to have it be her boyfriend, but some how it just never came out like that on the page. Graham was the perfect foil for Robin's dreams.

Always when developing story and scenes, I try to think how I can show case the heroine's inner and outer strength, as well as weakness. Graham was a great way to show her strength in adversity.

Dean not being her birth father

This was another original plot point - for Robin to find out her father was not the one who gave her red hair and green eyes. While writing, I put this fact out of my head so I could write her Dad with sincerity. If Robin didn't know, neither did I, or the reader. I tried really hard not to hint.

Her Mom, Bit

With Bit's own back story, it was easy to show her coolness to Robin about moving to Nashville. She'd tried it and it didn't work. She didn't want Robin to face the same failure and disappointment. But, ah, we fooled her! ;)

I liked how Bit softened toward Robin once part of the story came out. I liked having them write a song together.

For Bit, a daughter of gospel singers and a key member of a family gospel group, it would be really humiliating to run off for the big time, break up the family group and wind up pregnant and alone. I felt her attitude about Robin leaving for Nashville was valid.

The supporting cast

I had great fun coming up with Jeeter, Grip, Dixie Dos, Birdie and Walt. Not to mention Skyler and Blaire. I think my editor suggested Skyler being Robin's cousin. Great idea. We get stuck in a rut sometimes because there are so many facets to keep in mind while writing: story, plot, pacing, characterization, dialog, tension, setting, research, conflict, spiritual thread.

Never mind the writing itself. Avoid too many "I" uses if writing in first person. Watch speaker tags. Show don't tell. But don't over show, you'll exhaust the reader. Use active not passive voice. Watch literary cliches in sentence structure and description. Etc. Shew!

But I do love it. Love it!

Running out of the wedding

Robin spent years running from the stage. While she had fairly quick success in Nashville, I wanted her to stumble and fall back into old patterns at least once. I've been a bridesmaid a few times where I felt like running out. It's weird, cause I don't really wantd to, but what if....

Huge humiliation not to mention ruining the couples most sacred day!

I had Robin hanging in there until she saw Lee's face and Jim Chastain, her birth father. Then she cracked. Ran on impulse.

It's really important in life NOT to give into fears and weakness as much as possible. Once we do, it's easy to do again and again. Over coming becomes a challenge. So it's better to resist from the get-go. But Robin didn't. She gave in. So running, even out of a wedding, was almost second nature to her.

The End

Nashville is a 9-year town, so I'm told. Takes about that long for even a little bit of success. Especially for songwriters. As it turns out for Robin, her father is a Music Row big wig, but I didn't want success for her to be over night.

So, she was getting close, but still had a ways to go.

I also didn't want things to be sewn up neatly with hunky Lee. While we all love an HEA, not everyone falls in love, gets engaged and married like snapping fingers. Besides, talk about a literary cliche.

But, it worked great in Diva because it was not like her.

Anyway, there you have it. A small behind the scene! Enjoy.

1 comment:

Kathy S. said...

I loved, loved, loved Lost In NashVegas. I also loved reading this about your feelings on the writing of it.
I was so tickled that you didn't end up making Robin an overnight success in songwriting AND singing. Her voice was, supposedly, as great as her writing talent, so I truly expected that she would be "discovered" and become an instant STAR. Thank you for not doing that.
I enjoyed reading a little more about Robin and Skylar in DIVA and I look forward to, possibly, reading more about them in future NashVegas stories.....and many of the other characters who all came alive to me in these books.
I would love to collect every book you've ever written and I'll have fun tracking them down.