I feel like this is about to be a long, long post.
Nine years ago, when I first typed “The Crush” in a Word document, it was nowhere near the book that will be released on October 24th. Not by a long shot. And today, I’m revealing how The Crush went from a crazy, discombobulated idea by teenage Allyson into my third published novel.
Humble, Horrendous Beginnings
Nine years ago, The Crush was pretty much a passion project, a souped-up version of my diaries from 2007 until late 2011. I wanted to record what having a long-term crush was like, and how epic it was when that crush would eventually lead to a Cory and Topanga–goals, goals, goals! type of love story. At the time, I was under the impression it would never be published anyway.
Except, that never happened for me in real life. In all actuality, it turned out quite the opposite. So I was left with 75,000 words of a hot garbage, crap pile, half-written manuscript that sat dormant on my laptop for years. And yes, I know it says half-written. It really was halfway into the book at that point. *facepalm*
I went through bouts where I would try to fix it for myself, wanting to make use of all that time I had “wasted” on it, though those were off and on. I couldn’t bring myself to let go of the original story, because I had a longing to write about the ups and downs of having a serious crush, but the original was just so… *screams helplessly into the wind*. I knew it was terrible, but I was still attached to it, not unlike the way I’m attached to McDonald’s fries even though I know they’re not good for me.
Y’all may think I’m exaggerating about how bad this thing was. I wish I was. Seriously, if I posted a single chapter from that original mess of a half-draft, y’all would read about a paragraph and ask, “Allyson, were you drunk while writing this?” And I’d reply, “drunk only on Dr. Pepper and teenage stupidity.”
So yeah, that’s basically how the original version of The Crush came about.
The Makeover Period: Names
I can’t remember exactly when I first decided to give The Crush an overhaul, but I know it started with character names. The original male character was named Jackson (I think, because I have changed the characters’ names approximately a quarter of a million times), which was eventually switched briefly to Evan, and then at last to Sawyer.
Emery, the main character, was originally named Alaina Hunter, while Brynn, a side character, was named Emery with some random last name. I then decided I liked the name Emery too much to waste it on a side character, so Alaina became Emery.
Brynn, formerly known as Emery, then became Emily… but Emily sounded too close to Emery, so then she became Ellie. At this point, I remembered Ellie was the name of the main character from Stephanie Morrill’s Ellie Sweet series and I didn’t want to ruin that name (because Brynn is a bit annoying), so after scouring name websites, she finally became Brynn, short for her Super Southern name of Brynnleigh.
And Auden, Emery’s younger sister… Lord, have mercy. That youngin is lucky to have a name. I don’t even know what her original name was, but whenever Brynn was Ellie, Auden’s name was Ainsley, and there was just too much “ie/ey/y” names going on that I had to switch it up again. Ainsley was the name I liked least at the time, so I found and committed to Auden.
Finally, we have Rider, Emery’s older brother. Rider’s first name is the only character’s to stay the same throughout the entire creation of the book (that I know of). However, when I realized his full name would be Rider Hunter, this prompted me to change the whole main family’s last name to Brooks, 1) Because of the double “ers” and 2) Rider Strong played Shawn Hunter in Boy Meets World, so it sounded like I was meshing the names together. XD
If you’re still reading this and aren’t out-of-your mind confused right now, God bless you.
The Makeover Period: Plot
This is where things got really messy. Blimey Cow has always said “don’t be messy”, and I didn’t want to publish a tell-all of my former teenage stupidity, so a major overhaul was due. The problem was, there were so many aspects I wanted to keep from the original and didn’t know how to rewrite in a way that wouldn’t be personal to me. Emery’s story needed to be her story, not mine. So, what I ended up doing was going back over what was already written, making note of the scenes that were keepers, and making note of the ones that needed to be reshaped or left out.
I talk a bit about this in my post The Quick and Easy Guide to Rewriting, referring to the “keeper” scenes as patchwork scenes. In other words, scenes I could rework and recycle into something better later.
2011 to early 2018 marked the original version of The Crush‘s reign. After completing Speak Your Mind in February 2018, The Crush became my next WIP and I revamped it until June 24, 2019, when at last I could finally say the first draft was completed.
The moral of the story is, unless you’re writing a memoir, don’t include a play-by-play of drama from your personal life into your WIP. Trust me, you’ll eventually regret it. I’m thankful God revealed to me the error of my ways before deciding to publish the book.
Differences Between the Original and the Current Version
So, if you’re catching my drift, roughly 98% of the version of The Crush that will soon be released does not resemble the original. Some of the major differences include:
- The love interest was popular in the first version
- No mental health representation
- Rider did not play as prominent a role
- McKiver’s was not mentioned
- Emery’s fashion choices
- Emery’s grandparents’ love story was not featured as heavily
- There was absolutely no mention of playing guitars, songwriting, or music. In the original, I don’t even remember Emery having a hobby.
What Inspired All the Changes?
First, I must admit, I once taught myself guitar in an attempt to impress a guy. Not the same crush from 2007 to 2011 that inspired the original story, but some other dude that had no clue I existed.
During the time I was trying to impress this guy, I wrote a lot of song lyrics. A lot. As in a crap ton. And when I finally got over him, I had all these song lyrics that were no longer applicable to how I felt.
Remember how I said Emery had no hobby in the original version? Well, that’s where the music comes in. Songwriting is a very intimate act of writing, almost like poetry, where writers are pretty much putting their hearts on their sleeve for the world to witness. Emery has a lot to say, but is shy about saying it, which ended up creating her closet musician vibe.
I liked the thought of Emery and Sawyer bonding over music, so I made him a songwriter as well. If I remember correctly, all the songs that are featured in The Crush, except one, were written before the current version of the book was written. Some songs were adapted to fit Emery and Sawyer’s unique situations, but most of them contain the lyrics I originally wrote back in my mini-Taylor Swift days.
Once that change was made, I wanted to incorporate a deeper influence of the setting: a small, fictional town in eastern NC named Grahamwood. Using locations and influences from my first two novels, McKiver’s Cafe became a more prominent location in Emery’s life. Grandma Sue, Emery’s best friend’s Grandma, was mentioned as passing down the restaurant to her daughter in Speak Your Mind (which is set in the future), so I wanted to incorporate more hometown family vibes by introducing readers to Aiden and Brandon’s older cousin, Ryanne, and their Grandma who once owned the cafe.
Emery’s grandparents’ love story was briefly touched on in the original version, but with the current version, I wanted to make that a major focal point. With that change came a more in-depth look at Rider, Emery’s older brother who has a troubled past. Thus, family became a big theme in The Crush.
And that’s how The Crush came to be!
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about The Crush, y’all! It’s been fun to share all the inside scoop on the book with you. 🙂
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What did you think of today’s post? If you’re a writer, what inspired you to write your current WIP? Let me know in the comments!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.