When I start planning a book...well, imagining a story would be more accurate...it usually starts with the hero, then the heroine and then some scene of conflict. Sometimes, it's the first scene, but a lot of times, it's a scene later in the book. For me, that's the Key Scene -- it may not be the most important in terms of plot, or the relationship, or the conflict, but it's the most vivid when ideas are floating around my noggin in the early stages.
I'm about to start writing that scene in the work-in-progress. For me, and in this case, it encapsulates some important elements in the main characters, and leads to an argument that gets those elements, and their opinions about each other, right out into the open. At least, that's how it'll play in the first draft.
The set-up and basics of that scene have never varied. It takes place at a hall moot, a medieval kind of court, where the heroine, as person in charge of the estate, is hearing various complaints and settling local disputes. The hero, who has come to the estate at the behest of his brother to protect her, shows up in full armor. He doesn't say a word; he just stands behind her chair as she's doing her thing. He thinks she's put herself at risk by doing something so public and wants his presence to be, bascially, a warning. She sees his presence as an attempt to intimidate her tenants. Since she's determined to protect her people and maintain her control over the estate, this is soooo not good. Hence the big argument that's going to bring out other issues that have been festering between them.
This scene and its aftermath, and it's effects on the plot and relationships, all grew out of the single "vision" of this warrior knight simply standing behind the heroine as she sits on a chair, dispensing justice, and inwardly fuming.
This is my idea of a really good time -- imagining the setting and especially the characters: the inwardly seething heroine who sees his action as a criticism and a slight (what is she, some poor weak little creature?) and the well-meaning, but somewhat oblivious, hero who truly thinks he's doing a good deed. He has yet to appreciate that for her, this has other, critical implications.
What makes this even more fun -- and here's why I write romance -- these two krazy kids are extremely attracted to each other and have, by this point and in this draft anyway -- already shared a passionate encounter. They've both been trying to pretend it didn't happen, because an intimate relationship between them would lead to even more complications.
So one's fuming, one, albeit in his ignorance, was really just trying to help, both are trying to ignore their passionate desire and hoooo, baby! We're gonna have some fireworks!
There's one important thing I haven't figured out yet, though. Will that argument end in a kiss (and maybe more) or not? That's the sort of wild card I like, that makes writing fun and interesting and exciting for me. Because I really won't know what's going to happen at the end of that scene till I've written the first part and heard what they actually say to each other.
So flash up the computer and fasten your seatbelt, Writer Girl! There's some excitin' writin' up ahead!