Thursday, October 16, 2008

Killing my Babies

"He that can have Patience, can have what he will." ~Benjamin Franklin


Yesterday I cut 6000 words from the manuscript I'm currently revising, One Night in Napa. In part, this was a response to my Tuesday night critique group, who told me I was taking way too long to get into the central conflict of the story and have the hero and heroine meet. And in part it was my own decision that there are places that can be tightened, especially in the middle where the action needs to be picking up pace faster than it is.

But it's always a hard thing, cutting chunks of your work. I've saved them, of course, in a separate file. And I wonder, even as I'm doing it, how much I am giving in to what conventional wisdom says should happen in the opening chapters of a book. I know full well that I don't write traditional romance novels, that mine are both bound by the 24-hour fetters I put on them and by the fact that I'm more concerned with exploring emotion and human growth than getting my characters into bed. I also know this will probably ensure that I never become a best-selling author in this genre.

That's OK. And I can even appreciate what my critique partners are telling me, that there's too much introductory narrative, too much character introspection, and not enough forward movement. So I changed that.

But I didn't change everything. I refuse to alter my storyline so significantly that the hero and heroine meet in the opening chapter. I know this is what some readers will expect, so I'm sorry. At the same time, the H/H didn't meet until halfway through my first novel, One Night in Boston, and while some readers had a problem with that, others have told me they appreciated the character growth that occurred before they did finally face each other.

So I struggle on. I'm still aiming for 70-75K words with this novel, but now that I'm back to around 60K, I have to take a serious look at what I want or need to add to the storyline. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty satisfied with the edits I made. I just also have to remind myself (and those of you other authors out there) to remain true to the story I want to tell. I can't force myself to follow convention when it doesn't feel right for the story.

And if my readers have to wait a little longer for the hero and heroine to meet and feel the world shift under their feet, well, is that so wrong?


Liz said...

No, I don't mind waiting. What I like about the 24 hour novel is the build-up to when they meet. How it all unravels. Trying to guess when it will. Oh, and the character growth too. And I read romances where they are not in bed in the whole book. That's fine with me too - but there must be kissing. Oh yes - there must be kissing!

Marianne Arkins said...

"Sleepless in Seattle" is largely considered to be one of the most romantic movies out there... and, hello (!) how long did it take them to meet?

OTOH, I love to watch the H/H dance around each other, too.

I've found nothing to complain about in your first two One Night books, so you must be doing something right.

Amy said...

You've got to write the story the way it's meant to be written. If that means they have to do some growing before they meet, then that's what it means.

But I don't envy the kind of cuts you've had to make. 6,000 words?


Emily said...

6,000 words has to hurt! I just cut 2,000 and almost cried. But I agree with you, I am much more into character development than action. I like exploring the emotions of my characters and I love books that make me believe the hero and heroine are meant to be together because I know them through deep POV.