13 Oct

I confess, I don’t know what to write about. I have no particular inspiration to thank or a dog analogy. I am still revising, and am not able to see the forest for the trees. I’m only in the 40s, pagewise, and although I realize the beginning needs the most work, it’s still discouraging that I’m not farther along. Plus, when I revise like this, in sections as one must do, I wonder if I’ll be able to sense the flow of the piece. Will I be able to tell if it’s too slow, if I’ve put in too many details to make it feel more real, or if I’ve cut too much?

Here’s what my readers tell me I must do, and I’ve been trying to take their advice.
1. Put more backstory in the beginning. That means the reader wants to know more about Amanda (our intrepid heroine) and her life before the story begins. Why did she come to Aspen? What was her life like before she came? Things like that.
2. Make Amanda and Grady (our intrepid hero) more likeable/fight less at the beginning. I have to say, I didn’t totally see this at first—romance novels are notorious for their arguments early on, where the heroine has to appear feisty and conflicts between the hero and heroine need to be established. But THREE of my readers found the fights off-putting and the characters unlikeable. An unlikeable hero is bad, and an unlikeable heroine is the kiss of death. I also took into account something Susan Elizabeth Phillips (romance author extraordinaire) said at the Romance Writers of America conference, and that was, one thing that bugs her in the extreme is when heroines get in arguments for no apparent reason. Lord knows I don’t want to disappoint Susan Elizabeth Phillips with shoddy writing by not staying true to the heroine’s character.
3. Cut down on Grady’s thoughts about how beautiful Amanda is at the beginning. One reader felt their attraction to each other felt rushed and I need to draw it out more.
4. Cut down or eliminate jumping between Grady and Amanda’s inner thoughts during scenes. This is a topic of hot debate in writing circles, I’m learning. It’s called “POV”, or “point of view” and there’s one school of thought that says you have to stick with one character’s point of view in a scene, and there’s another that says you can switch back and forth as long as it’s not distracting. I didn’t find it distracting, but two of my readers did. So I’m splitting the difference and cutting out a few instances, sometimes for entire scenes, sometimes not.
5. Put in more specific details. This was from my most demanding reader, who gave me the most detailed analysis of my book. He felt I skimped on the details  and should add more to certain scenes to make them come alive. This is to save me from a cardinal sin of writing, telling rather than showing. Giving more details, carefully chosen, will save me from telling and writing poorly, and possibly (gasp) boring my readers.

Those are the biggies. That’s what I’ve been working on these past weeks, and I hope I can pull it off so that the book is tighter and better. Happily, all my readers felt that the latter half of the book was better than the first half, so there’s much less work to do there. MUCH less. PHEW.

I hope you thought this was interesting. And there you have it, the Colette Auclair Slogging Report. Thanks for reading!

Add comments: