By: Laurie Lucking
Release Date: February 14, 2018
Paperback: $14.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)
Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC
Genre: YA Fantasy, 304 pages, ISBN: 978-1-943788-27-9
Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it— the servant girl they banished.
Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.
An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear
just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of http://www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting http://www.laurielucking.com.
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Thursday, February 15, 2018
The Evolution of Common
I’ve been working on the manuscript that has become Common for over three years! Yikes! There were a lot of writing breaks during that period of time, but I’ve also done a lot of learning and growing as it developed, which meant the story went through many revisions as my understanding of story structure strengthened and my writing style evolved. Common underwent all kinds of edits big and small, but there are three ways in which it has changed most significantly since the first draft.
1) The title
Brainstorming titles has always been a challenge for me. When I was struggling to come up with a title for this love story about a servant girl and a prince, I searched through quotes from books I’d drawn inspiration from while writing. One such book was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I found this beautiful quote, “All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever,” which fit my story perfectly. So I started calling my book With You It Would Remain. While this title holds sentimental value for me, it’s a bit long and cumbersome, and my publisher agreed. We started throwing around new titles. Most were along the same lines as With You It Would Remain, just shorter, but another idea that stuck with me was Common. I thought it could be interesting to title the companion novels in my series after each main character’s primary misconception of herself. My editor loved that concept, plus she added the marketing expertise that Common was a unique title which would help the book stand out, plus a one-word title leaves lots of space for beautiful cover art. So Common it is!
2) The opening
When I wrote my first draft of Common, I started with my main character as a young girl discovering the abandoned broom closet that would become her childhood hideout. During the next two chapters, Prince Raphael stumbled into the same closet and they established the beginnings of their friendship. I got a lot of mixed feedback on this opening. Some of my critique partners really enjoyed getting to see this part of Leah’s history with the prince, but most thought teens would quickly lose interest in Leah’s childhood exploits. After much consideration and testing out a few alternative opening scenes, I decided to cut the first three chapters and start with Leah as a teenager, weaving details about her past with Prince Raphael into the early scenes of the book. Making such a significant cut was painful, but in the end it made the opening much more engaging for my target audience.
3) The “sagging middle”
Once I hit my stride in my story, I was getting all kinds of positive feedback from my critique partners. I couldn’t wait to submit a new chapter and see what great things they would have to say about it. But as we got past the middle of the story and my main character found herself amid a new setting and new characters, the positive comments started to fade away. Readers clearly weren’t connecting with that portion of the story. After recovering from my initial disappointment, I revisited that section and realized they were right. Even I hadn’t connected with that section! I’d written it because the events of those chapters needed to happen, but I’d tried to get through them as quickly as possible to get back to the “good stuff.” In a challenging, time-consuming set of revisions, I added scenes, characters, and even a subplot. I put more heart into that section to make it part of the good stuff rather than just a tedious bridge from one exciting section to the next. I’m eternally grateful to my critique partners for their honesty, without which this celebratory blog tour would’ve likely never taken place!
So there you have it! The primary characters and heart of this story remain very much intact in this final version, but in other respects that first rough draft bears little resemblance to the published book. Along the way I learned the enormous value of perseverance, willingness to adapt, and honest, knowledgeable critique partners! But while the learning process has been valuable and rewarding, I have to admit that I hope the evolutionary process of my next book isn’t quite so extensive! 🙂