by Diana Ross Lucy King, author of The Party Starts at Midnight
So I’m nearly at the end of writing the book I imaginatively call ‘Leo & Abby’ (and which will eventually be called The Party Starts at Midnight) when I get an email from my editor about a suggestion I made to develop Abby’s character. In it she remarks that while Abby’s capable character is something to be proud of, her relationship history and tendency towards perfectionism shows how she can take it too far – a great way to set her up on her emotional journey. Which immediately makes me panic and think, huh? Emotional journey? What emotional journey? Help!
When I write I don’t think too much about what I’m supposed to be doing, let alone consider things like journeys (unless it’s to the kettle and back). I’m too busy getting the story on the page before I forget that vague-but-fabulous thing that happens two chapters ahead.
But my editor was, as usual, absolutely spot on. Characters need an arc. Maybe not always one quite as awesomely dramatic as Walter White’s (guess who’s just finished the Breaking Bad box set?!) but they need to somehow develop and change. If they stand any hope of dealing with what the story’s throwing at them – or maybe because of it – they have to be aware of who they are, who they’re becoming and who they need to be.
As a perfectionist with stratospheric standards – which I’d totally missed, although it was there – what Abby has to realize is that perfectionism can be a flaw and that expecting so much of everyone around her because she expects so much of herself isn’t always very fair. And as for Leo, well, given that he was once jilted at the altar he has to re-discover how to trust and let go of the past.
For me, the resistance the characters put up to this dawning self-awareness is a big part of what makes the books so much fun to write. And read. Leo and Abby struggle. They kick. They stick their heads in the sand. But eventually they have no option but to give in when they realize their lives will be so much richer when they do. And then hopefully the next journey they’ll be going on is a nice long honeymoon!
And what’s the best character journey you’ve ever come across?
About The Party Starts at Midnight:
8:00 p.m.: Leave the spectacular party you’ve organized in search of Leo Cartwright—international playboy, notorious tycoon and your most prestigious new client.
8:10 p.m.: Find Leo asleep, half-naked, in a penthouse suite that just screams decadence—and battle a wildly-out-of-character impulse to kiss him awake.
8:30–11:30 p.m.: Return to the party. Spend all evening avoiding Mr. Cartwright—and trying to forget his tempting demands…
11:59 p.m.: Assure Leo that you will not be mixing business with pleasure.
Midnight: Break your own vow… All. Night. Long…