Shannon here: Lori DeJong shares how she created her characters in her Contemporary Romance, Love’s True Calling. Comment or answer the question in this post or when Lori returns on July 18th to enter the drawing for an autographed, print copy. Deadline: July 29th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Lori:
From Homework to … Novel?
True story! My debut novel, Love’s True Calling, was created as a class assignment! The directive was to create a character, determine their motivation, then plot an entire novel based on that motivation.
Gulp. Here’s the thing. I don’t plot. I’ve never been a plotter. I tried it once, and when I started writing, my characters pretty much just laughed at me and said, “yeah, honey, that’s not our story.”
However, I was determined to learn, so I took this excellent class from my friend Laurie Schnebly, and that’s how Harper was born. But in order to identify her motivation, I had to know WHAT her main goal was, because motivation is all about the WHY. Why does she want what she wants?
Took some doing, but I finally came up with a character who’s spent the better part of her life trying to please others due to never measuring up to her parents’ extreme expectations. Her goal at the start of the book is to finally get her college degree (after nine years away). Her motivation is her desire for validation. She needs to find purpose in something outside of herself.
But I write romance, which meant I also needed to come up with a guy and identify HIS motivation. And voila! Wyatt! Super smart, red-headed, science-loving kid from high school whose motivation is finding redemption for not being able to save his best friend who committed suicide after suffering extreme bullying.
So on her very first day back at college nine years after her first, who should show up as her last-minute substitute professor? None other than Wyatt, the boy who’s heart she shattered in high school. A face she hasn’t seen in over a decade.
Only now he’s not that kid, and she certainly isn’t that girl. As their story unfolds, they find past struggles and tragedies they’ve each suffered have shaped who they’ve become. Wyatt leaned into his faith and started a ministry to help teens find their value in God, while Harper struggled to find her way for several years before coming to know the Lord.
My homework over the four-week course consisted of not only identifying their motivations, but now what do they DO to get what they WANT? What directions do their motivations take them?
I was so proud of myself (first mistake) for plotting an entire novel! A novel I never intended to write, until I fell in love with Wyatt and Harper and kept hearing them beg me to tell their story.
But when I gave in and sat down to write it, well, turns out that, while the plotting class helped tremendously with getting their goals, motivations, and conflicts pinned down, the story didn’t exactly stick to the plot. I believe the difference was I didn’t pray over my course homework, but I always pray over my work before I start writing. And when I started writing Wyatt and Harper’s story, He led me in new directions.
I gained so much inspiration from that plot, though, that by no means was it a wasted exercise. I still use the plotting worksheet for my other novels, but I only identify the major plot points instead of every chapter and scene. It gives me more direction than simply sitting down to write by the seat of my pants (writer-speak for writing without a plot), then finding I’ve written myself into a corner and have to backtrack to see where I went off-course. While at the same time, it allows the Spirit to guide me in the direction the story should take without me trying to stick to a strict plot.
Now when I write a scene, I know the plot point it’s directing me to, and it has tightened my writing, and writing time, so much.
I really enjoyed writing Love’s True Calling, the award-winning story of love rediscovered, the joy of finding purpose, and the blessing of obedience, even through the pain of sacrifice.
Question for Readers: Have you ever struggled to find your place? Do you ever question what your purpose is? How did you find peace in knowing your true calling?
Author Lori: Lori DeJong (pronounced DeeYung) is a contemporary Christian romance author who enjoys penning stories full of grace and the redemptive power of God’s love that inspire others to hope regardless of circumstance, find joy in the moment, and grow in their faith.
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Lori arrived in Texas in 2005 and dug those roots right in. She currently resides in beautiful Georgetown, north of Austin, with her husband of thirty years. Other than their two fur-babies, their nest is empty, as their daughter graduated from college and settled in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where she is thriving in her faith and career.
Lori loves to write about love and romance and all that fun stuff, with a firm foundation of faith. Clean but sassy, sparkly, and even goose-bumpy romance, with God in the middle and characters seeking and learning and changing, couldn’t be more heartwarming or spine-tingly.
Lori’s debut novel, “Love’s True Calling”, Book One of her True Calling Series, was the 2020 winner of the Scrivenings Press Novel Starts Contest, the 2022 winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Romance, and a 2022 Maggie finalist. It will be published by Scrivenings Press in June 2023, “Love’s True Home” in 2024, and “Love’s True Measure” in 2025. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Love’s True Calling:
After years of jumping through other people’s hoops to be all they thought she should be, and enduring a tragedy no mother should, self-described “newbie” Christian, Harper Townsend, has finally found her true calling … and her true love. Until it appears that to follow one may mean leaving the other behind.
Adolescent Psychologist, Wyatt McCowan, is beyond delighted to have the-girl-that-got-away back in his life, and his heart. But even as they fall more in love, he realizes that being obedient to God’s calling on each of their lives may pull them apart. She rejected him once in favor of another, which left him hurt and angry. But this time, he can’t fault her for following hard after the God she loves with all her heart, even if it means leaving him once again.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Come back June 16th for Amy R. Anguish!