Love romance – who doesn’t? Writing them is a joy, visualising scenes over and over again in my head is what’s it all about. I live and breathe for it. And yet, there are challenges. Things I hate when watching television shows and movies, one device in particular, which, to my disgust, I used in The Billionaire is Conned.
I justified my usage of the device by simply telling myself that it was necessary for the element of surprise, but even more so, because giving it away too early would’ve significantly weakened the plot.
Let me start with what I dislike about such devices. I watched this movie recently – won’t give it away by telling you its name but suffice to say that I knew after watching the second scene of the movie that the rest of the movie was entirely in the protagonist’s head. The audience weren’t to know this, of course, believing that the events that followed actually transpired. The director had given it away, either deliberately, which I doubt, or in the process of leaving a clue for the audience, which is much likelier. Why, oh, why did the director do that? I watched it till the very end and noted several other flaws in the plot and examples of poor direction, or worse, bad writing. Years and years ago, I watched a romance movie, where a fake ending is presented to the audience as fact, then the audience is told that it’s nothing but a movie that the protagonist has made to live out the fantasy of a love affair gone horribly wrong. I wanted to find the director and throttle him. Not just because I was fooled by this device, but because I wanted a happy ending. I needed a happy ending, given all the angst in the story, reminiscent, by the way in my plots. In this example, the direction was perfect, the execution flawless and the acting superb. So, I abandoned my plans of capital murder, resigning myself to the fact that watching a love story didn’t always guarantee a happy ending. BTW, if you’ve read my books, you’ll know that they always have a happy ending.
If these examples are confusing, watch M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense. Or most episodes of Leverage. The device is used aplenty. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie as well as the television series, appreciating the need and usage of this device.
What I did with The Billionaire is Conned is to use this device very sparingly, and only because it was essential. Like most examples where this device is used, I gave the readers little clues, just to play fair. I thoroughly enjoyed reading on reviewer’s feedback in particular as she stated categorically that it not only came as a surprising twist, but that it was also her favourite part of the book! I can’t say more without giving the plot away and indeed, spoiling it for those of you who haven’t read it.
What I will say is this. It wasn’t easy. The timing was critical, along with the reasoning behind holding back the secret. In the end, it all came together very nicely. What was harder was creating Lyle, an understandably difficult character. He has many layers, with a tragic backstory, just like Fifi. The difference between the two is that Fifi has come to terms with her loss. Lyle hasn’t. He needs help. The juxtaposition between their warring raison d’etre was the crux of the story, so intricately intertwined that meant that their happiness was equally inextricable from one another.
It’s always challenging to make such a character likeable. I battle with this because my heroes are unique individuals in their own right, different from one another. Their common characteristic is their strength. They are sometimes stubborn, overbearing, arrogant and irritable. None of these are likeable qualities. On the other hand, they are generous, loving or capable of great loving, kind, humorous and forgiving. It’s not easy, therefore, to depict these qualities without making them seem confused, contradictory or worse, inconsistent. The truth of the matter is, and something most of us will deny, we humans are all inconsistent at times. We are capable of greatness, even aspire to it, but nevertheless only rise to the occasion when seriously challenged, staring into the abyss. That’s when our true character surfaces, ultimately redeeming ourselves. In many ways, The Billionaire is Conned is about redemption – not just Lyle’s but Fifi’s as well.
Read it to see what I mean.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think.