At first, we were all gung-ho (but not about Gung Ho, the Michael Keaton movie, which really should have been better). For the first several chapters of the new manuscript, everything is told from the viewpoint of our heroine. Our heroine is young, smart, struggling to make ends meet, and reasonably freaked when she wakes up and discovers her brain inhabiting someone else’s body. A someone else who has stolen a very important McGuffin from a rich and powerful billionaire. While she struggles to come to terms with this, the billionaire’s thugs are pounding on her front door, demanding she give the McGuffin back.
Except that our heroine doesn’t know what the McGuffin is or where it’s hidden. She’s in a fix.
We felt this was a relatable story. I mean, who hasn’t had something similar happen, right? Going to bed as, say, Kristin Faraday, then waking up in Charlize Theron’s body and discovering that a sexy, handsome version of Bill Gates has sent his goons to strongarm you? If it hasn’t happened to you personally, it’s almost certainly happened to one of your friends or family members.
We pride ourselves in grounding our fiction in reality.
The writing went along very smoothly – serial fiction is all about the cliffhangers, and the cliffhangers were falling nicely – until the middle of last week. On Wednesday, it was Handsome Bill Gates turn to tell the story from his point of view. The reader would learn why the McGuffin mattered and, if it was handled correctly, the next few episodes would give the reader a reason to like Bill beyond his eleven-figure bank account. In theory.
So, why are we struggling to put words on paper? We know where the story is supposed to go. The problem is, as ridiculous as Kristin Faraday’s situation might be, we find the idea of a self-made, altruistic, physically perfect and totally gorgeous billionaire to be an even more fantastical conceit. For us, it’s easy to present the billionaire as a threatening presence. It’s going to be a battle to make him every woman’s dream lover.
I suggested that we give up on Sexy Bill Gates and create someone more in keeping with what we read about the super-rich. Will readers stay with us if present the billionaire as a soft-bellied, balding, and cretinous villain? I’ve argued that anything’s possible, but my partner doesn’t believe that mean-spirited cretin romance is the Next Big Thing.
Unable to come to a consensus on where to go next, we each wandered off to do other things that weren’t writing fiction. I opened my paint set. When I’m at loose ends, I paint Arizona birds on small, egg-shaped gourds; oh, don’t shake your head at me, there are worse hobbies. Each painting fills a few hours over two or three days. Once the latest bird was done, I went online to pass some time. Somehow, I found Entertainment Weekly’s Which Superhero Character Are You? quiz.
I’ve provided a link to the quiz, but it’s a complete waste of time. If you insist on checking it out, you’ll notice that it’s Marvel-centric. The superhero character options appear pretty male-centric, too. There’s no Lady Luck, or Raven, or Jill Trent, Science Sleuth among the character options. But the “game” was right in front of me, it was free, and I was bored.
I was stumped by the very first question: My greatest asset is my…*
There’s no (F) None of the above. A, B and E didn’t seem right, because I was sitting on my butt doing a superhero character quiz, instead of working on a billionaire romance that might make a few bucks. C is definitely not my reality and no one except an Akita should pick D as their answer. Finally, I went with “intelligence” because I was smart enough to know that they’d provided no appropriate answer for a slacker like me.
The second question is about favorite foods. Nothing on their list would have made my top twenty choices. I went with “pie”, because, really, what’s wrong with pie? The third question wanted to know how my friends would describe me. I called the Good Witch. Her answer – “A pain in the butt. I had to get out of the shower to answer your call” – is not on there. The fourth question, about favorite colors, included blue and green. My favorite color is turquoise. The fifth, and final question, asking about fitness routines? Oh, please. Crossfit? Karate? Boxing? So… yeah, no real thought went into Question #5. I stabbed blindly.
Having filled in largely incorrect answers for all of the questions, Entertainment Weekly then refused to provide the superhero character answer unless I gave them an email to spam me on a regular basis. If you ignore my warning and play the game, they will do this to you, too. (It makes me want to send their marketing department a quiz: Which Supervillain Character Are You?) I gave them my spam email site, the one I don’t check, to go forward.
Their answer? Iron Man. The handsome, well-muscled, arrogant yet altruistic billionaire that has, somehow, charmed millions of movie-goers. The perfect candidate for a billionaire romance.
I have no idea what the universe is trying to tell me. I should have spent my time, finishing my Arizona bluebird.