Was it fate?
A little backstory for the beginnings or what was supposed to be the non beginnings of Tragically Beautiful. I wrote Beautiful Collision to be a one and done story. I already planned the two books that I would write next. Each of these a stand alone in different romance tropes. Then came the reviews for Beautiful Collision. A review on GoodReads requested Alex have his own book. I laughed and enjoyed the review, while being proud of myself for creating a strong secondary character. Then, over the next month, a few more reviews came in asking for his story. My brain took a turn from the story I had already began writing. I could no longer focus on it because I was consumed with Alex and his story.
I wrote Alex’s character with no regard to following it up. He was an integral part of my heroines story, but would always stay in the background. Or so I thought. I wrote Lola’s character very much the same. In the very beginning phase of writing Beautiful Collision, Lola was not in the story. She appeared one day and decided to stay. This says a bit about my writing process. I’m a pantser and only have a general idea of the story line. I usually have a few scenes and how I want it to end. The rest of the story is following where their voices take me.
I’m telling you this because Alex and Lola weren’t going to have their own book. I didn't think to place them in a romantic relationship. But here we are less than two weeks away from their love story being out in the world.
“There is so much I adore about this story. I really love the way you’ve set up Alex and Lola as these kind of mirror images, not just in terms of the way they look and act but also in terms of the experiences they’ve had in life and how that’s shaped them…(spoiler) It absolutely took my breath away. It’s one thing to set up a story where characters have to grapple with their different backgrounds; it’s another to have a character recognize those differences in such an overt, concrete, and humbling way. Just absolutely beautiful and so powerful.” - Jaqueline Hritz, Copyeditor
When I read this paragraph from my editor, I got chills. I had created characters who were complete opposites, but incredibly similar. There are a couple of moments in the story where Lola speaks to these similarities and differences in their backgrounds. Their handling of these situations so unlike the other.
Was their story serendipity, fate or enchantment? Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray Love, believes creativity is magical. “I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment, not entirely human in its origins.” Elizabeth Gilbert; The Irish Times I set up these characters perfectly without knowing their future. Their love story would not have been possible had I not set it up this way in Beautiful Collision.
This was a happy, unplanned occurrence I didn’t plan or look for. This has just reminded me that sometimes we don’t have to plan for joy. It can show up at an unexpected time. We just have to be willing to open ourselves up to the gentle knock life gives us.
But sometimes – rarely, but magnificently – there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something [creativity]. Your defences might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then magic can slip through. The idea, sensing your openness, will start to do its work on you. It will send the universal physical and emotional signals of inspiration (the chills up the arms, the hair standing up on the back of the neck, the nervous stomach, the buzzy thoughts, that feeling of falling into love or obsession). Elizabeth Gilbert; The Irish Times
I have been thinking lately, what if I decided to ignore the gentle nudge creativity was giving me? I was over 10k words in and had, what I thought at the time, a solid story. I could have very well continued typing the words for that story, completely ignoring these characters that I have come to love. Where would I be? Still typing out words, but they would have been different. Maybe I wouldn’t have loved them as much. Maybe I would. There’s no way to know, but I’m happy I decided to follow the nudge creativity gave me.
I’m linking the article here for you. It is such a magical, inspirational piece. But I highly encourage you to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is a FANTASTIC read.