Now that Bittersweet is out, I’ve had some questions about it and wanted to share what happened during the writing of Brand and David’s story. It taught me a few things, trust me.
When I signed up to write two stories for the Hot Comforts anthology from Manlove Romance Press, I pitched the ideas for Giving Thanks and Bittersweet. Several other authors also joined the anthology and it was scheduled for around Thanksgiving 2008.
Because these stories are part of an anthology, it means they really can’t be too long. 20,000 words is a LONG story to have in an anthology. So there’s a maximum reasonable size the editor and publisher expect.
Giving Thanks went pretty well and relatively quickly. I’m happy with it and it really told the whole story I wanted it to.
Bittersweet is a whole other case. I knew a bit about the conflict and the fact it’s very much based on not judging someone by their appearance or what you think they might be like. When I started writing the story, though, I really got into these characters. I sent the first chapter to my test readers and one of them immediately replied that this was NOT a short story.
But it had to be. It needed to be. I literally spent months fighting with this story and trying to force it into an appropriate size and structure. But it fought back. Every time I tried to force Brand and David to get in bed, it came out horribly. Every time I tried to gloss over their personalities and foibles, they seemed like plastic characters. I rewrote it so many times I delayed the whole damned anthology. My deadline was blown and I was so frustrated and in despair it was awful. There’s just no way these characters would behave that way.
Finally I had to step back for a bit from my attempts to force my will on the story and I wrote another chapter, letting myself write what was demanding to be written. There’s a lot of background. There’s a lot of detail and some scenes that don’t have to do with sex but let the readers learn more about who these two people are.
I liked it. It flowed again.
So I finally accepted I could not shoehorn a Happily Ever After into this story. I took it to the point of a Happily For Now but there’s a lot more of this story to come. I’m going to write the rest of their story and see if I can sell it because I want to tell it. There’s pain, misunderstanding, assumptions, sex and love to go.
I know I’ve seen one opinion so far that there wasn’t enough sex and I spent time on things that didn’t matter. I hope that’s not the majority opinion because I love these two characters and the have a compelling and beautiful story to finish. But I did want to share what happened to me while I wrote this story :)
Bittersweet can be purchased from Aspen Mountain Press!