Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Peach Pie Scene

If you read my first book, Shades of Gray, you might remember what I call the peach pie scene.  It was located near the middle of the book, and it was a scene in which Amber, my heroine, baked a special dessert for Derek, the hero.  She used the last of her canned peaches to surprise him with this pie—and his reaction was to take one look, one whiff of its unique scent, and race from the room.

This scene provided me with the opportunity to change the characters.  It opened up their pasts to each other and the reader, it allowed them to see each other in a new and different way, and it gave them a new intimacy that they wouldn’t have found any other way.  It was also a scene that I’d had in my head from very early on.  Researching the Battle of Shiloh, the first major conflict of the Civil War for Derek, I developed the initial idea, and writing the book itself took it from there.

My second book, The Unlikely Groom, had a pivotal scene, as well.  This one came later on in the book, when Lucas, the hero, found himself in the position of having to remove a bullet from the shoulder of Ashlynne, the book’s heroine.  Lucas had been a doctor in his backstory, but heartbreak had caused him to leave that life behind.  During the course of the book, he’d fallen in love with Ashlynne, and that love forced him to embrace the part of himself that could save her life.

Again, I had the idea early on.  I struggled to develop Lucas’ character.  I had a plan in mind, but he just wouldn’t cooperate.  Once I found out he’d been a doctor (which he kept a secret from me for a very long time), everything else fell into place.  I knew then that he’d have to be put in the position of saving Ashlynne’s life.  What else could possibly force him to embrace his gift of medicine?

So now, here I was, writing The Scent of Forgiveness, with no peach pie scene.  My process for writing this book has been quite different from when I wrote the first two, so had I moved beyond needing that?  I decided not to worry about it and just keep writing.  In fact, without an outline, I couldn’t do anything but keep writing.

Then, when I decided I was going to share something with my editor, I knew I’d need a synopsis.  Writers don’t call it the “dreaded synopsis” for nothing, but I sat down with pure determination and wrote the first draft.  Then I rewrote it and kept at it until I had a version I considered worthy of submission.  Surprisingly, through that process, I started to get an idea and then…I had my peach pie scene!

I’m not going to share it here.  I’ll just say that it will appear late in the book, and it will change everything for my heroine, Emerson.  So why does this matter enough to write about it here?  For one thing, it’s important because it makes for a highly emotional scene that moves the story and gives the reader an emotional payoff that the book’s been promising.  For another, it gives me something to write toward.

I’m a linear writer.  In other words, I write from beginning to end.  I have friends who write scenes completely out of order and then go back and connect them up whenever they’re ready to do that.  Sometimes, that seems like it would be really convenient, but I just can’t do it that way.  So, having a peach pie scene gives me something to anticipate.  It keeps me writing when I’m not sure that I’m happy with what I have on paper (or in the computer).  It keeps me moving forward when I’d rather go back and rewrite something that already exists (because nothing is worse than a blank page).  It keeps me interested even when I’m tired of this story that I’ve been living with for months at a time.

So here we go.  I’m off.  I know where I’m headed.  I’ve got my peach pie scene, so I know where the payoff is going to come.  As a writer, I couldn’t ask for anything more—and how lucky is that?



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