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What to write about?

by Amanda S. Green

That’s the question that’s been staring me in the face not just this morning as I try to figure out what to blog.  I’ve been up to my eyes trying to finish the rewrite and edits on Nocturnal Serenade so I can get them to my editor as well as doing what needs to be done around the house and for NRP.  Add to that the fact that I’ve had a con, a writers workshop and helped with the library friends bazaar yesterday and you have a very tired writer.  Worse, you have one that finds herself at her wits end when it comes to dealing with folks who seem to want something for nothing.  As a result, I am having to sit — hard — on the impulse to wax political today.

So bear with me as I try to make some sense today.

I’ve worked on Nocturnal Serenade, off and on, for several years now.  I’ve always known where the story is going.  The problem has been how to get there.  As I’ve finished the first draft and started the rewrites these last few weeks, I’ve known something was wrong.  Something just didn’t feel right about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Now, I know I’m my own worst critic and it worries me when I actually like something I’ve written, especially during the edit process.  But this was more than that.  This had the feeling to it like I’d left something out.

I talked it over with Kate and Sarah — sorry, guys.  I know I’ve driven you crazy with it.  I sat down with pencil and paper and took notes.  But it didn’t dawn on me what was wrong until I forced myself to put it to one side and start working on a different project (and, Sarah, there will be payback.  I promise).  Suddenly, it dawned on me.  There were several things wrong with the plot, not the least of which was, as I said in an earlier post, that one of the minor characters had to be repositioned motivation-wise.

But it was more than that.  I had several very distinct plot threads that needed to come together, not just at the end, but earlier.  I hadn’t laid the proper breadcrumbs for the reader.  I was committing one of the “sins” of writing I detest: springing the end on the reader without proper foreshadowing.  So, with that knowledge in hand, I once more started pestering Kate, running new ideas and concerns past her.  She listened and didn’t kill me — something I’m sure took a lot of self-discipline.  But I finally knew what was bothering me about the novel.  Now I had to figure out how to fix it.

This sort of reworking of a novel isn’t something that can be done by just adding a line here and there.  At least I can’t do it that way.  The first three chapters had major revisions to them.  Some scenes were added and others deleted while yet others were moved to other locations in the book.  New chapters were added.  And, as I have done all this, guess what, the book started talking to me again. No, that’s not quite right.  It’s been yelling at me again, demanding my full attention and pouting when it doesn’t get it.  So, with few exceptions, I’ve been writing and editing in my free time this week and, hopefully, will soon be handing my editor a book he’ll like.

One of the issues I’ve had to consider when writing Serenade is how much sex, if any, to put into it.  When I was shopping Nocturnal Origins around, I received a lot of very supportive rejections.  Editors and agents liked the writing and the voice but either wanted it to be in first person or wanted sex, lots of sex.  Somewhere along the way, they’d forgotten that there is a difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  Origins was UF, just as Serenade is.  More than that, the issues and pressures the lead character was having to deal with pretty much precluded her doing much more than just surviving and learning to accept the changes in her life.  After all, she’d just found out that monsters really do exist and were very much a part of her life now.

But Serenade is a new book.  Mac has had time to start accepting and adapting to this new world she finds herself in.  She’s still not sure about it all and there is a lot of unresolved anger and frustration because the truth had been kept from her.  But she’s also a very healthy female with an equally healthy sex drive.  Add in a man she’s drawn to and, well, you get the picture.

So, now I have a new balancing act to master:  how much sex to put in to stay true to the character and yet not turn what is still an urban fantasy into a paranormal romance.  The mystery is still the major part of the story.  The romance is a very minor part.  Yet, I guarantee you, when Serenade comes out there will be those reviewers who condemn it for not being “hot” enough while others will bitch because there is sex in it.

This is why I have come to accept what Sarah and Dave have been telling me for a long time.  You can’t take reviews to heart, especially those posted on Amazon, Good Reads, B&N, etc.  Why?  Because you can’t make everyone happy.  More than that, there will always be that one reviewer that will leave you wondering if they actually read what you wrote.  All we can do is write the best tale we can and cross our fingers.  It’s a crap shoot from there as to whether the readers will like the book or not.

And my fingers are crossed that will not only like but also recommend Nocturnal Serenade to their friends — assuming I get it to my editor before he kills me.  Until then, it’s back to work.

 

9 Comments
  1. Ah, that wonderful feeling when you’ve got it right. Congrats.

    October 9, 2011
    • Thanks, Pam. Of course, it’s only wonderful until it quits being so…usually when I start editing again. ;-p

      October 9, 2011
      • And when it’s all done, you put it on the Kindle to check, and the typos leap out at you, and you spot the continuity errors and . . . Really, this is the _Final_ Final Draft!

        October 9, 2011
  2. Stephen Simmons #

    Sex?
    I’m probably going to have to deal with that question someday, aren’t I?
    Drat. Need to work in some storks, maybe …

    October 9, 2011
    • Steve, it just depends on what you’re righting and for whom. Of course, if you want to have your elves having sex with the dwarves. . . .[VBEG]

      October 9, 2011
  3. Stephen, that only works if you’re writing for Disney. 😉

    Amanda! ELVES and DWARVES! You pervert!

    October 9, 2011
  4. Pam, actually, that comes after the editor has had his go at it. For one thing, even though you can just email the file to your free kindle email addy and it will be converted, it isn’t the quality of conversion I want — yes, I’m picky — but also because I don’t want to have to do the conversion twice, which would have to be done if there are major edits to the piece.

    As for you calling me a pervert, I thought you already knew I was one. I am a writer, it’s part of the job description. Or at least that’s what Sarah and Kate keep telling me ;-p

    October 10, 2011
    • Takes one to know one?

      I’m quite sure we have to be able to think in perverted manners, even if that isn’t our natural “style.” Otherwise how could we convincingly write the characters we need in the stories?

      October 10, 2011

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