Friday, 25 November 2016

The short story behind free reads - Counterpoint

Hello there,

well, after nearly three years, in fact two years and 11 months, the final story in my Counterpoint series was released to subscribers on 15 November.

I have plans for these short stories, going forward, but for now, I'm not sure how I feel about no longer enjoying a raunchy monthly adventure with Patrick Washburn and friends.

If you're not sure who Patrick Washburn is, better read Torn! Meanwhile, I started thinking about why I wrote these stories in the first place.

There are a number of reasons.

The first and most pressing reason was that Patrick had a story to tell. My books Torn and Inviolate were written in the first person, a narrative of my main character, Alexandra Broughton. We know that Patrick has led a rather, let's call it exciting, life. We know he's a drinker, womaniser and by most standards, a bit of a lad.

But we only know as much about him as Alexandra does. The series, Counterpoint, aimed to reveal Patrick's side of the Torn story.

Who was he? What motivated him? How and when did he fall in love with the woman who finally tamed him? These were all answered in Counterpoint.

That's the altruistic reason I wrote the stories, and offered them free to online subscribers.

The selfish reason is that I'd never written juicy stuff before. Knowing Patrick was a bit of a player, I saw the writing of his stories as an opportunity to explore my writing from a different angle.

Many writers do this. It's a writing exercise, a chance to explore another style of writing. In Counterpoint, I wrote about drugs, sex, war and killing. I wrote using colourful language and descriptions. It was as much an adventure for me, as it was for my readers - many of whom regularly emailed to say how much they enjoyed Patrick's tales.

One of the other opportunities I had while writing Counterpoint was to experiment with different points of view. For example, some of the stories were written in Patrick's first person. Some were in third person with friends and family sharing their own insights into Patrick's world.

I was also able to play with different formatting styles: relating stories by letter, chronicling in diary style, i.e. time and date.

This was, for me, very liberating and extraordinarily enlightening - I learned a lot about writing and believe I'm a better writer as a result.

Along the way, I learned things about my characters that I previously didn't know. So, for fans of Torn and Inviolate, let me tell you what I learned:

  1. Deon Morehead is a good guy. Yep! He sure is and I wouldn't have believed it myself because, from Alex's point of view, Deon was a cad who cheated on his girlfriend. But as far as friends go, Deon was a true and loyal friend to Patrick. He was also a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed writing Deon's scenes and letting him express himself.
  2. Christie Thorpe is serious. As Patrick's boyhood friend, I thought Christie would be a bit more fun, but in fact, he turned out to be more sober than I expected. He took his responsibilities in the military very seriously, while proving himself a decent and honourable man. He was also very loyal to Patrick.
  3. Simon was a player. Oh yeah, now this took me completely by surprise. Alex's older brother, who in Torn and Inviolate was always very respectful - even prudish - led a lifestyle very similar to Patrick's, only he was more discreet about it. Alex knew only that Simon fathered a child on one of the maids at Broughton Hall; but when considering Simon's amorous adventures, that wasn't even the tip of the iceberg! 
  4. Patrick loved his father. This never really came through in Torn and Inviolate, but there were moments in Counterpoint where Patrick revealed how deeply he did regard his father. Of course Patrick's first love was his sister, Maeve.
Alright, so if you haven't read my books, Torn and Inviolate, you're probably a bit over this post by now. There was so much more I learned, but I won't bore you. I really just wanted to illustrate how characters can reveal themselves to their creators in unexpected ways.

Sure, I created them, but in re-writing Torn from another character's point of view, I learned so much - not just about the mechanics of writing, but in the way characters tend to run off and do their own thing.

As a writing exercise, I would recommend this to other writers. I'd love to go through the process of writing from another character's PoV - I've been asked about Anne Broughton, my main character's sister but I have so much else to write, Anne might have to wait a while.

So, as mentioned, I have plans for Counterpoint and I'll give you more info when I have it. For now, the Counterpoint stories will remain on my website so subscribers can continue to read and enjoy them. New subscribers are welcome - see my website for details.

Now, this afternoon, hubby Stuart and I are flying to Europe to spend December in Rome - of course - then, Copenhagen and Vienna. We will be in the U.K. in Otley (the town that inspired my book Torn)  for Christmas.

JJ - keep Cabin 1 free for NYE as planned! Looking forward to it.

See you in 14!

Romantic old pub
Black Bull Hotel in the town square - Otley, Yorkshire

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