Anatomy: Even squishier than you’d think

(Crossposted from Rose City Romance Writers group blog
where the month’s topic was Anatomy of a Book)

Posted by: Jessa Slade
Currently working on: Revising Book 2
Mood: Working on revising that too

Anybody who had to dissect a pig heart in junior high knew relationships were gonna be a bitch. Turns out, all those grade school years of perfect paper hearts and somewhat less pefect but much sweeter Red Dye #5 frosting outlines at Valentine’s Day were a lie. Hearts are actually fibrous, misshapen lumps of flesh, working way too hard and prone to far too much damage.
On the plus side, you could do fascinating things to them with a sharp scalpel and an electrode.

Lest that come across as budding psychopathology, let me assure you it was excellent advance training for a one-day romance writer. (Yes, I realize the jump from psycho to romance writer is shorter than a hopscotch square.) Not only is writing a book often a messy and blood-soaked affair, but add the element of a love story and the potential for arterial spray grows exponentially.

As a romance writer currently in revisions on my second book, I feel (or so I grandiosely imagine) all the pressure of a cardiac surgeon with the patient coding on the operating table beneath my hands. I’ve got a perfectly good body lying here — the bones of story structure are solid, the muscles of the plot are well toned, the skin of words holds everything in place. Rather attractively, if I do say so myself.

And yet, without that beating heart…

Fortunately, I learned the second part of the anatomy lesson from Frankenstein, who taught us all you need is a little sizzle and you can light up that corpse to sing and dance. Sure, you still get that whole running amok thing to deal with, and then the villagers coming with torches, but you do what you must for the story.

So like any scientist, you can study. You can assemble all the requisite pieces. (And Eye-gor was right; an Abbey Normal brain is perfectly fine.) Go ahead and lay them out on that clean white paper. Then pull down your goggles and fire up the electricity.

Lab whites look a lot like writers’ jammies if you squint.



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