A Writer’s Riff

Pasta Stickers

Pasta Stickers

Two characters are roaming around my brain: Julia is a widowed mom approaching forty and soon heading back into the work force. I think she would be pretty, but the last few years have taken a toll on her looks. Alice is a precocious six-year-old about to enter first grade. She’s small for her age, has brown hair, and wears glasses. She was born with serious heart defects and has undergone multiple surgeries, the last one two years ago.

I had a plot for them, but it kept putting Julia to sleep, so I pulled the rug from under them. Because they won’t leave me alone, I’m working on a new plot.

Did Julia, hungry for some romance, fall for a man who turned out to be an abusive control freak and now she needs to get away? No. She’s too smart for that. Did her best friend fix her up with her brother who secretly picks his nose? Yuck. Or after mourning her late husband and dealing with Alice’s surgeries alone, Julia needs a vacation extraordinaire. Should they have an adventure on some exotic island? Should I put them in an RV and send them to a National Park where Julia falls in love with a handsome ranger who adores Alice? What if I make her an investigative journalist whose subject puts her and Alice in danger and they have to go into hiding? Should I send them to Cape Cod where Julia falls for an oyster shucker in Wellfleet who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent? But I don’t write mysteries. I write women’s fiction.

Riffing is like throwing pasta against the wall and seeing if it sticks. A stream of thoughts quickly scratched out from the right side of the brain. I don’t think any of the noodles here will stick, but feel free to tell me if you like one of them! (I’m grinning.)


About Gerri

I'm in my second career. Besides raising my beautiful family, worked as RN. Now I'm a novelist. Have completed five novels and working on my sixth. Way more fun than nursing! Happy hubby and neurotic cat hang out with me.

Posted on January 12, 2015, in On Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Oh Boy. A tough one. How about falling in love with a heart surgeon who has been placed in the witness protection program…….see why I am not a novelist?

    Enjoy the sunshine!

  2. Anniem173@aol.com

    OK, my vote is for the investigative reporter plot and the Cape Cod oyster shucker who is really an undercover FBI agent……OR, here’s another one entirely: Julia loses her husband (in a mysterious accident that she suspects may not have been an accident at all….) and just as she is recovering from her grief, her 6 yr old daughter goes missing (lost in the National Seashore on Cape Cod while on their last day vacation….but maybe not lost at all – kidnapped?). She has lost her husband and she cannot lose her daughter! She will do anything to find her – including having to trust a man who may or may not have had something to do with her husband’s death! …..

  3. Gerrie Costello

    very nice Gerri…..Does Ron like Sweet potatoes ? I am going to the store after I get your answer….Mom

  4. I love a mystery, especially when it involves an FBI agent!

  5. How about making Julia a high-class New York gal who goes on a vacation to the Cape Cod National Seashore at the urging of Alice’s physician (because it will be good for the child’s health.) Julia meets up with the ranger, who adores Alice The conflict can arise in their differing personalities– Julia likes theater and art museums; the ranger likes fishing, hiking and going out on lobster boats. He can open their eyes to the wonders of nature, and she can introduce him to the finer things in life. Alice can work behind the scenes to bring them together. Will Julie and Alice return to New York, or will they decide to stay at Cape Cod?

  6. The pasta sticks are great and very abstract. I have been following you for a long time and enjoy all the postings in your blog. Though you have indicated you write primarily women’s fiction, I think you would be a successful as a mystery writer too. Perhaps you might consider writing a mystery while continuing to write women’s fiction. My partner and I have attended numerous book readings and have found that many writers have branched out, while continuing their first passion. We wish you good luck and we look forward to hearing when your first book is published. We will attend…………

    A follower.

    • Thank you so much! I actually started by writing romantic suspense. My first women’s fiction book has a crime in it. My second is more typical of WF. The problem is so much to do, so little time! Thanks for your support and optimism! I will send you a personal invite to my book signing!

  7. Okay, here goes. All going along well, plan a trip to see beloved Grannie in Vermont. Alice goes into mysterious cardiac crisis. Mass General. Stabilizes. Crazy about her same age roommate with similar health history. Julia befriends the divorced mother, who turns out to be a bad seed with mental issues. Estranged husband,( Paul,) comes, falls in love with Julia and vice versa. Love affair blooming. Children released from hospital. Paul and Julia date. Insanely jealous ex-wife tries to murder the new couple. They foil her attempt, with help of Paul’s best friend, a PI. Woman instructionalized. Julia and man marry. Girls are joyful sisters. All go to see the loving Grannie. Whew!
    That’s why I dont write!

  8. I think this would make a great movie! Let’s write the screen play!I’m laughing! But hey. . . .

  9. Great description of the writer’s process: “riffing.” Like jazz, a little improv is welcome; and the song usually doesn’t sound the same twice; and yet the listener (reader) can follow the theme throughout.
    I also love how you describe the character getting into your head, and not leaving you alone! (hope it’s not as annoying as getting a “jingle” stuck inside!)

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