Saturday, March 20, 2010

Plotting Your Way to a Migraine and Beyond

I've never used a marriage of convenience plot before and I have discovered that there is an excellent reason for this.

I am terrible at them.




So I'm about a heartbeat away from tearing up my hero and heroine's marriage certificate. But on my quest to make a plot work (that clearly doesn't) I discovered a few tips that I wanted to share with anyone who is looking to use a MOC plot device in their books.

By making the hero and heroine strangers you can automatically amp up the tension. My hero and heroine lost their tension after their marriage and getting rid of their history did bring it back in a big way but that's not the story I wanted to tell and my characters would have to become different people.

You want to ask your hero why he has entered the marriage of convenience. Does he need money? Is he in love with someone else and no longer cares who he marries? Is he doing the heroine, or someone else, a very big favour?

You need to ask your heroine the same question. Has she married for children, safety, etc. The heroine's motive reflects on the hero, because he must be able to provide the protection, money etc for the heroine.

So now you have your motivations and you're ready to go, right? Alas, if it were only that simple. Here comes the fun part. You need to deconstruct your hero and heroine beyond their rationale. If you're me, say hello migraine.

Whatever their motivations the hero and heroine have married for something other than love. Your heroine may have married for money but if she's a romantic at heart her motive won't match her person and you'll need to dig deeper. For example, perhaps the heroine needs the money for her sister's cancer treatment and has no intention of taking a dollar more than she needs and perhaps is even planning on paying it back. Instead of a scheming gold-digger she becomes a selfless, caring woman and we all like her much better.

It's such a shame my hero and heroine won't cooperate. I can't find a strong enough conflict to drive the story. My hero wants revenge and is blackmailing my heroine into marriage, although he's not the marrying type. The hilarity of this is that it's a double edged sword and the hero is also punishing himself. He's an intelligent man so I can't really justify this stupidity.

I need chocolate.


Maisey said...

I *have* always wondered that instance...he wouldn't just blackmail her into bed. Sex=cooler than marriage for commitment phobic alpha. :-D

But, if you give him a reason, like you said, even if he doesn't want marriage...well, that's another story altogether! Money, status, the facade of stability? Children? What does he need that she has? (besides a rockin' body)

You sound like you're on the right track though.

Caroline Storer said...

Blimey! Life is never simple is it? I'm sitting her thinking "how can I help?" and I've come up with a big fat zero - other than what you have posted. I've done MOC and I think they have worked - but only because they are historicals - I think I've got more of a lee way with historicals. If I think of anything else I'll come back to you. Caroline x p.s go eat some chocci's.

Kerrin said...

oh dear Lacey! It sounds like your tips are on the right track but that they aren't working for you!
I like Maisey's idea, just get her into bed! hehehe.
Hope you work it out!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Argh, dissecting this kind of thing is a pain isn't it?
Do you need the marriage? Yes, it's a common theme but is it necessary? What are you trying to do with a MOC plot?
Trying to think of motivation for your hero but I got nothing. Chocolate is the best medicine.

Angie Peters said...

Pass the chocolate over please :) I'm with you here, Lacey. I've been struggling to write my MOC for almost a year now (I've had to start all over again, stopped the writing to analyse their GMC's, etc). One thing Donna Alward pointed out to me is that the reason for the MOC must be *personal* to the hero and the heroine. It's so easy to fall back into cliches here. But like Maisey pointed out, you need to analyse why the hero needs a MOC. Is this a plot device to bring them together (in terms of proximity)? If so, maybe you could use some other way to bring them together?

MOC's are difficult to write, and I've wanted to hit my head against the wall multiple times.

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks Maisey! It's funny how you can get so fixated on something you can't see the solution staring your right in the face. I knew I had to get rid of the MOC, I'd whipped that plot to death, but I was still stuck on that marriage. Of course Mr. Commitment Phobic would blackmail her into bed!!

Thanks Caroline! I hope you're having a great time :) I envy you your MOC talent!

Thanks Kerrin :)

Jackie - I feel better that I'm not the only one stumped with what I've done to my hero's motivations. That's definitely a sign that the MOC has to go. I've been looking at it so long I no longer remember what I was doing with the MOC plot in the first place. Opening another box of chocolates now... ;)

Angie - I'm so glad I'm not alone! Thanks for sharing Donna's words of wisdom! Good luck with your MOC, I've surrendered ;) and will whimper if I hear those three little words :D

Maisey said...

Lacey, so glad I could help. I've done MOC's, I love MOC's and I *do* think they work. But if the motivation doesn't ring true...well, then it won't!

And in this case, if your hero just needs her body...well, that's all he needs! :-D

Sally Clements said...

Well done for trying. I've never even tried a MOC, just can't get my head around it. Think Maisey has the right idea though, just read Abby Green's latest 'blackmail into bed' and she did a fantastic job. But that's Abby for you! Such a good writer...Sigh :)

Janette Radevski said...

LOL - I tried & failed a MOC so you know what I did instead? Added a pregnancy!

Lacey Devlin said...

Let's all take a moment to envy Abby :) Thanks for the recommendation Sally!

Lol that's the way Janette!

Suzanne Jones said...

Am sending cyber chocolate. Hope it helps.


Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks Suzanne! :)

Francine said...


I'm doing a trip round blogs, and came across this: "My hero wants revenge and is blackmailing my heroine into marriage, although he's not the marrying type."

So, she dumped him earlier on, and although not the marrying kind he's truly "pissed off" by her indifference. He would be, because he thinks himself god's gift to women, so it came as one hell of a blow to be dumped before dumping! Meantime, he still gets the hots thinking anout her.

Also, there could be a big contract in the offing, and all the other candidates are married men, the big cheese (whomever)prefers doing business with married men.

As for the dumper (female protagonist): she still fancies him like hell but will never admit such, and dumped him because she believed he'd dump her if she didn't sock it to him first.

So . . .
Hell, I've lost the plot now and the will to live . . .


Lacey Devlin said...

Hi Francine! Great ideas :) Thanks for stopping by :).

Kaily Hart said...

I've never written a MOC, but I think it's a very challenging story line. The motivation is tricky because it's got to be believable and consistent to the characters to result in something that drastic. And afterward? The character(s) have to be redeemable. It sounds like you're working through that though!

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