Writing is not as easy as it Seems: Changes and More Changes in The Convenient Mail Order Bride

I can hear some of the plotters out there shaking their heads and telling me, “See, Ruth.  This is why we plot.  If you would stop writing by the seat of your pants, you wouldn’t be facing a rewrite today.” 😀

To be fair, yes, plotting would have saved me today’s rewrite, but I can’t plot.  I’m serious.  Plotting is like asking me to draw a picture of a human face so that it doesn’t look like something a kindergartener did.  I can’t draw anything but a stick figure to save my life.  And it’s the same with plotting.  Even if I had plotted this book out ahead of time, it still would have changed?

Why?  Because my characters never reveal anything to me ahead of time.  I need to write the scene to know what’s going to happen next, and often, I am doing this on a day by day basis.

For example, I’ll finish the day’s writing in the middle of a scene because most of the time, I have no idea what the next scene will be.  It isn’t until I finish the scene that I know how the next scene begins.  When I say “begin”, I mean, I know the first sentence.  Maybe the first paragraph.  But I don’t know anything beyond that.

the convenient mail order bride ebook cover

Fortunately, I don’t often have to go back and do rewrites.  Out of fifty romances, I’ve only had to do this a few times (Boaz’s Wager, Wagon Trail Bride, and a couple others that elude me at the moment).  The Convenient Mail Order Bride happens to be the current one.

These characters don’t know what they want, except for the hero.  Abe hasn’t changed, nor does he need to.  But one scene the heroine seems like she’s ready to run off, and in the next, she’s determined to stick around.

For a couple chapters, it was like she couldn’t make up her mind. Now, I know in real life, there are people like this.  I have my moments, too, but this is something that can drive a reader batty.  I’d be yelling at the heroine to figure out what she wants already, so I don’t care for this kind of setup.  This is why I have to go back and smooth her moodswings out.

Then there’s the villain in the story.  I thought he was truly a bad guy, but then while writing a scene, it occurred to me he is only the bad guy in the hero’s point of view.  Point of view is truly a wonderful thing.  Abe has every right to perceive the villain (Carl) the way he does.  Carl’s father took some of the land rightfully Abe’s and gave it to Carl because Carl was the legitimate son.  Carl’s father is also Abe’s father, but Abe was conceived in the act of adultery.  More than that, Carl’s father favored Abe because he loved Abe’s mother, whereas he didn’t love Carl’s mother–and he didn’t love Carl either.

So if you flip things around to Carl’s point of view, Abe’s mother (and to a lesser extent) Abe robbed him of a father’s love.  Connect up Carl’s mother dying and leaving him without a parent who cared about him, and it only complicates things. On top of that, his father paid Abe’s mother for the stream and land, so technically it really does belong to him.  But the answer isn’t even that simple when the two can’t stand each other and want the stream and land.  So the matter isn’t as black and white as it seems.  (Which fascinates me, to be honest.  I like these kind of revelations because it makes the story more meaningful.)

Carl, by the way, will be getting his own book because of the new developments.  I am still working on the plot, and I figure it’ll take his book to resolve the matter with the stream and land.


So anyway, today’s mission is to rewrite, delete, and edit.  (This is not nearly as fun as creating the first draft, and it drains me to do this.  I get energized in writing the first draft.  I lose energy doing the other stuff.  But the other stuff is just as important as the first draft.)

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to https://ruthannnordinsbooks.wordpress.com/.
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16 Responses to Writing is not as easy as it Seems: Changes and More Changes in The Convenient Mail Order Bride

  1. I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble with this. But it happens. And I do like it when the “villain” sometimes gets his own story, so that’s cool that you’re doing Carl’s story later. You get to see his point of view. I almost wanted to write a story about the villain from Fire Wizard, but he was so bad, I don’t think he’s redeemable. But there’s a part of me that wants to do it.

    I hope you get everything worked out with your story. 🙂

    • I sorted it out, but I am still behind in finishing this one. I learned I can’t push myself too hard in getting it done either. Sometimes I can barely make 1000 words. It’s definitely slow going. I go the ending, but I have to get there. I figure I have about 12,000 words left to go. So if I can do 1000 a day, I can get this in two weeks. *Takes a deep breath*

      I love a good villain. Sometimes they are the most dynamic character in the book. I know what you mean. Some are redeemable and others aren’t. Have you tried a short story in your villain’s point of view to see if he can be redeemed? He was a good villain, by the way. I enjoyed reading him. 🙂

      • I’m not sure readers would even tolerate a short story about this guy. You know how awful what he was doing was. He was a fun villain to write, even as bad as he was. He had a few really good lines, didn’t he?

        • Oh, I meant for you. To see if you wanted to do something more with him. It’s the only way I can tell if a character is worth doing. Everything short I’ve ever put out there seems to get a 3-star average at best because a lot of people wish it was longer. I don’t care for short stories for this reason. I love reading them because I have so little reading time, but people who can read a full-length book in a day will not be happy. lol

          He did. 🙂

  2. lgould171784 says:

    I like three-dimensional characters, whether they’re heroes or villains.

  3. Lorna Faith says:

    Thanks for sharing your rewrite process Ruth. I’m going through rewrites with my Historical Romance right now. I totally get it when talk about your characters having mood swings ~ that’s what I’m dealing with right now with my heroine. Somehow I’ve got to get to work it out better. BTW – I love your plot in this one. When I was reading your summary, it reminded me a little of the Biblical story of Jacob and his 2 wives Rachel & Leah. Rachel was the wife that was loved(and she also gave birth to 2 sons that Jacob favored) and Leah was not – sort of seems similar to your story of Carl’s father favoring Abe because he loved his mother, leaving Carl unloved. I love revelations like that in stories too ~ it makes them more interesting 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this Ruth, I’m inspired to finish my rewrites!

    • Isn’t that awful when characters go from one mood to another like that? It’s driving me crazy. I like it when they know what they want and stick with it. It makes things a lot easier for us. I hadn’t thought of this story in comparison to Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, but I see how it fits.

      I hope your story is going faster than mine. My story is very slow in coming along. I smoothed out the rough edges, but this is one of those stories where I have to struggle the entire day to come up with 1000 words. Usually, I can do that in 1-2 hours. I’ve written a few books where it was like this. Each word was like pulling teeth. I don’t know what it is about some stories being easier than others. You’d think being the same author who is doing the same technique, it would be the same experience every time. 🙂

  4. I love it. I knew when you started telling us about Carl that he’d be getting his own story – and the way you explained it, he should. I also love when a bad ‘guy’ isn’t really a bad guy – or can at least be redeemed because someone cares enough to give him/her a chance. 🙂

    • You are more receptive than I am. 🙂 I thought for sure Carl was just one of those unredeemable characters. If I’m right, you’re more a plotter than I am, so maybe that’s why you saw it before I did.

      I like the twist. Everyone has their side of the story, and it’s always interesting to get the other person’s perspective on things.

  5. Shelley says:

    Do I need to send you a list of questions? I’m sure if you sent me the rough draft I could come up with a couple…dozen. It worked for Wagon Train Bride. Maybe it’ll get your characters to cooperate. he he he

    • I almost sent you what I had so far to look over, but I’m under such a tight deadline with this one that I need to keep going. I should have finished this before Thanksgiving. That was supposed to give me plenty of time to do everything I needed. At this point, I’m going to be squeezing it in to an editor who has a day job and other clients. Then I have to get it uploaded well before the pre-order date. Thankfully, I don’t often run into this kind of snafu when it comes to writing books.

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