About Writing, Alice and the Warden

Writing a three pronged love story

When I started writing Alice and the Warden, I decided that I wanted it to be a three pronged love story.

First, I wanted to depict Alice growing to love herself. The foundation is built on her learning that she has inherent worth as a person, and that she isn’t defined by her past mistakes. As she herself puts it, “I lived like I was disposable, so it was no wonder that I was used and thrown away”. She realizes that before she can move on and build a better life, she needed to accept that she has value.

Second is the story of maternal love. Alice’s main motivation is to be the sort of mother she thinks her daughter deserves, and all of the introspection and hard truths that she admits to herself stem from that desire. After her baby is born, she does her best to empathize and care for her newborn without complaint, even when she’s exhausted. As she says, “I’m her whole world. I’m the reason she exists, and I can never be replaced as her mother. When I think about myself from her perspective, it makes me want to be a totally different person – the sort of person who’s worthy of that love.”

Third is the marriage between Alice and Hackett. Their relationship is built on companionship and acceptance, as they skip past the stereotypical romance and dive right in to quiet evenings at home with the baby — but they’re still flirty and affectionate whenever they get the chance. They aren’t perfect, but they’re determined to love and support each other, especially when things get tough. Because they both come from painful backgrounds, they find refuge in each other.

Alice: “I feel like it’s okay to be damaged with you. My real dad abandoned me because my parents divorced, but now I can rely on you to look out for me instead, you know? And you’re so good with Alicia, that I never want you to leave me. I love you. Probably more than I would have if I wasn’t damaged.”

Hackett: “She wants to make sure that Alicia doesn’t grow up lonely and vulnerable the way she did, and she wants to make sure that our marriage never grows cold and distant. And you know what? It makes me feel safe. I can be myself without turning into a giant disappointment.”

In retrospect, my original plan of wrapping it all up in 15,000 words was pretty silly. The character development is more ambitious than that would have allowed for.

Anyway, I promise that I’m not being self-congratulatory or anything like that. This year has been stressful in more ways than one, which has made me more forgetful than usual, so I decided that it was a good idea to start compiling my thoughts and goals with this novel. Truth is, I’m not sure I’ve satisfactorily met my goals with this story yet, since it’s still very much a work in progress.

Alice and the Warden

Random notes about AatW

  • I feel like I’m writing the baby too much like a prop. I’m always mindful to make sure that she’s present and accounted for (instead of simply not being there for some unexplained reason), and newborns really do spend most of their time sleeping, but I want to throw in more descriptions of her to make her feel more like a character.
  • I want to flesh out the friendship between Kate and Gertie. I know how they’d interact, but I can’t quite figure out how to slip it into the story. My brain is being totally blah about this.
  • Because I originally intended this to be a novelette, I’ve been typing it on the laptop. Right now, I’m really missing the ability to scribble notes in the margins. I have no clue if LibreOffice has a similar feature, because I never bothered to learn anything beyond the bare basics.
  • I’m also really terrified of my laptop crashing and losing everything.
  • I wrote a really sexy scene, and now I don’t know what to do with it. What’s this story rated anyway?
  • I need to describe pretty much everything better, and figure out what the heck that English thing is. You have no idea how mortifying it is to publicly post a first draft.
  • Nobody’s reading it anyway (except for you, of course).
  • I’m starting to worry that the pacing is too slow, and I need to get on with it already. But, given the speed of the rest of the story, doing that might make the ending feel unpleasantly rushed.

The Black Magus

The Black Magus characters


I know.

I spent over a year working on the first draft for this novel, and these are the only notes I made on the two main characters.


I confess, I’m terrible with notes, so I often find it easier and more organized to keep all of the information in my head. I don’t create character charts, or worksheets, or blah blah blah, because I make a point of locking everything in my mind.

Which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t fit in with writing communities.

Besides. Most of the time, I just listen to what they have to say anyway.

So, here we are: introducing the two main characters from The Black Magus, my upcoming fantasy romance novel.

Are you as excited as I am?