by Kate McMurray
There are lots of ways to tell a story.
I told the story of Michael and Simon in When the Planets Align in perhaps not the most straightforward way. The book opens on Simon taking a train to Penn Station because he’s moving back to New York after a long absence, but the story starts fourteen years before when Simon quietly comes out to his best friend Michael when both are juniors in high school. Or it really starts when they both meet as young boys, though neither can remember exactly how it was they came to be friends beyond that they just have been for as long as each can remember.
When the Planets Align is a story told out of order. I chose to take a nonlinear route for this book, gradually unveiling the pieces of the past that brought both men to this point in the present. The first scene I wrote of this book was of Simon impatiently waiting under the departures board in Penn Station for Michael, who is running late, and when they do finally see each other, it’s awkward. In this moment, their whole history informs how they act with each other. This scene is basically the focal point around which the whole book revolves, because what came before explains how they got to this strained moment, and what comes after describes how they get past it.
The funny thing about writing this book is that I think this is the best structure for it, but I second-guessed myself. After I had written a few scenes out of order, I reorganized the whole book chronologically. When I sent it to my beta readers, they all told me it wasn’t working. The pacing wasn’t right, the first-page hook wasn’t pulling them in—that was the criticism I was getting. All valid, by the way. (This is why I have beta readers. So they can tell me what’s wrong with my book and I can fix it before it goes to the publisher.) One of my betas went so far as to suggest I set the scenes nonlinearly, which is what I had always intended but chickened out of doing. It was like she knew that this was how the story was supposed to be told.
It’s a rough thing to take something you’ve already spent hours upon hours crafting and rip it apart to put it back together again. (Not the first time I’ve had to do it; I scrapped and rewrote Blind Items three times before I was happy with it.) I had to sit with an actual piece of paper and a pen to draw out the plot and which scenes went where and in what order. The final product was the story as I had originally envisioned it, and I went for the nontraditional narrative, rather than sticking with the less satisfying straightforward saga of Simon and Michael.
So that’s the long-winded way of telling you why the book is the way it is.
And still, I think it’s good to shake things up and try new things. It’s one of the fun parts of being a writer. I can take an old trope—one I’ve written before, even—and put a new spin on it to keep it interesting for myself, at least, and hopefully also for my readers. And I love these characters and this book, so I hope you do, too!
About When the Planets Align
Best friends Michael Reeves and Simon Newell always lived within ten minutes of each other, but somehow they’re never in the same place at the same time.
Brash, outgoing Michael’s unwavering confidence that he and Simon are meant to be carries him through some hard times. When Simon moves to New York, Michael dutifully follows. Quiet, practical Simon loves Michael as a dear friend, but he’s not ready for anything romantic.
Several years and several failed relationships later, Simon realizes he’s been in love with Michael all along. Only now Michael has moved on. Though Simon offers everything Michael’s ever dreamed of, the timing is all wrong. Confusion, betrayal, and secrets from the past threaten their friendship until it might be time for them to go their separate ways. Or maybe the planets will finally align, and Michael and Simon will find themselves in the right place at the right time to take the next step.
About Kate McMurray
Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She is active in RWA and has served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers and on the board of RWANYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Kate has graciously offered up an eBook copy of When the Planets Align to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends December 24, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.
Don’t forget to check out Heather C’s review of When the Planets Align to see what she thought of it!