Elizabeth Hoyt of LORD OF DARKNESS and the age-old dispute of Plot vs. Character

Elizabeth Hoyt of LORD OF DARKNESS and the age-old dispute of Plot vs. Character

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by Elizabeth Hoyt, author of the fabulous Maiden Lane series . . .

I’m often asked if I come up with the characters or the plot first when writing a book. This is a silly question, mainly because it makes the assumption that a writer’s brain is at all linear – mine, at least, isn’t – but also because it presumes that the writer can separate the character from the plot of their book. Well, okay. Technically, one should be able to separate the two, but that takes subtle abstract thinking more often seen by editors rather than writers (see above, linear thinking, lack thereof.)

Take my latest book, Lord of Darkness, for instance. This is the fifth book in my Maiden Lane series, and the hero, Godric St. John, was introduced waaaay back in book one (Wicked Intentions) prompting more than one reader to exclaim ‘Who?’ when they learned the hero of the book. In Wicked Intentions Godric was a secondary character whose beloved wife was dying. All I knew about him at that point was 1) his wife would end up dying and 2) he had a secret life. As time – and the books in the series – went on, I knew that I wanted to explore Godric finding love again after a devastating loss. Unlike many romance land widowers, Godric truly loved his first wife. In fact, he considered her the love of his life. With her death he feels that he’s lost his life, too.

Which begs the question: what kind of woman could make this man want to take a chance on love again? I thought she’d have to be pretty extraordinary to do the job. In the second Maiden Lane book, Notorious Pleasures, Lady Margaret Reading shows up. Megs is young, prone to impulse, wears her heart on her sleeve – and is almost the exact opposite to Godric.

There was only one slight problem with getting these two together: Godric would never of his own free will court another woman. Fortunately in historical romances we have these things called marriages of convenience. When, in the book preceding Lord of Darkness, Thief of Shadows, Megs becomes pregnant out of wedlock, a marriage is arranged between my reluctant hero and heroine.

All these characters and their situation were in place before Lord of Darkness ever opens, and if you ask me, I can truthfully say I have no idea which came first: the grieving widower or the marriage of convenience or the vivacious young girl full of life. Some things just seem to appear in an author’s mind. This is why we often look like we’re staring off into the distance, by the way.

At this point with all this build up, you may be wondering how Lord of Darkness actually starts, so I’ll leave you with the first line:


“The night Godric St. John saw his wife for the first time since their marriage two years previously, she was aiming a pistol at his head.”


I hope you enjoy Lord of Darkness.



Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical romance, including the Maiden Lane series. All of Elizabeth’s books are set in eighteenth century England and all feature a fairy tale story that serves as a foil to the main story. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with a trio of untrained canines and a garden in constant need of weeding.

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