I want to start today’s post with fingers crossed and good thoughts for everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene. Keep your head down and stay safe.
I’m hip-deep in work not only for NRP but my own writing as well. Because of that, it often becomes difficult to turn off the editor long enough to write. I’ve always had problems turning off the internal editor, especially when writing outside of my comfort zone. Add in the pressure of trying to finish two novels, two very different novels, and pull together proposals for a couple of others and it really is a wonder I haven’t run into the night, screaming like a madwoman.
Part of the issue is being able to keep the “voice” of the two novels different. The first novel is lighter than what I usually write. The main character isn’t exactly fluffy or an airhead, but she isn’t the “kick-ass and take names later” sort of character I like to write. The only problem with that is I find myself wanting to strangle her half the time. For the first time, I understand why Sarah whines and moans when she writes Dyce (Dipped, Stripped, and Dead and French Polished Murder). These characters who never want to find trouble but who somehow manage to fall into it head first are fun to read — if written well, something Sarah does. But to write them, OMG, it drives me crazy. For one thing, this book is written in first person. Which means it is like having it dictated to me. The only thing that could make it worse would be if the main character was smacking gum and talking like a valley girl.
Don’t get me wrong. Annie, like Dyce, is no Mary Sue. She has a brain and she isn’t afraid to use it. It’s just that she doesn’t always have the common sense of a flea. Nor does she always think before acting. In other words, she’s human. That means she makes mistakes and she has bad luck on occasion. She doesn’t instantly size up everyone around her, infallibly figuring out who is the good guy and who’s the bad. Given the right triggers, she can and will do something foolish.
Part of the problem is, as the author, I know who all the players are and what their roles are. So, when Annie does something foolish, I want to throttle her. The reason is simple. I’m scared to death the reader will know everything I do and think Annie is too stupid to live. Hopefully, when the book is done and to my editor, he’ll tell me I’ve been worrying needlessly. Until then, I’ll fight the impulse to hit the delete button.
The other part of the problem is the other book I’m working on. Nocturnal Serenade is the sequel to Nocturnal Origins. Mackenzie Santos, the main character, is the “kick ass and take names later” sort of character I love to write. She has flaws and fears, but she does her best not to let them keep her from doing her duty. No, I have a different set of problems — and fears — with these books.
When Origins was making the rounds, I received feedback from a couple of agents and one publisher that had me scratching my head. They were confused because there was no sex in the book. Sure, the groundwork had been laid for some in subsequent books. But this was a book about a bunch of shapeshifters. There had to be sex.
Uh, no. Origins isn’t paranormal romance. It’s an urban fantasy. If you took away the shifter part of the book, you’d have a mystery or police procedural. Putting the shifting back in, the plot focused on Mac’s investigation into a series of murders AND her learning how to cope with the fact that she has just learned the monsters of her childhood are real and she has become one of them. Frankly, for her to jump into bed with someone she doesn’t know well would be going against character and would not advance the plot.
But that doesn’t mean there doesn’t need to be sex in the subsequent books. For Mac’s character to grow, she has to start coming to terms with who and what she is — and with her feelings of betrayal because she hadn’t been warned by her family that this could happen. She also is drawn to another character introduced in Origins. As she comes more fully to term with being a shifter, as she comes to trust others like her, she forms relationships with them. One of these is a romantic relationship. That means sex at some point.
So the question becomes how much to stay true to the character without turning the book from urban fantasy into paranormal romance. Meanwhile, I have Mac in my head, rubbing her hands together gleefully even as she reminds me that she’s been good and celibate and is now ready for a really good “roll in the hay”.
Save me from my characters and their voices in my head — especially when I’m tired and Mac suddenly starts sounding like Annie or vice versa.