Friday, August 19, 2011

Top 10 Things I Learned from Writing a Book: #8 Sometimes you must kill that which you love

So I’ve finished my first novel, Desires of the Soul, and it’s caused me to reflect on the things I’ve learned. Naturally, I want to share them with all of you. Maybe you’ve learned the same things; maybe you were lucky enough to already possess this wisdom. Either way, for the next couple of months, I’ll be posting a new lesson-learned every week (or so). I hope you’ll check back each week and weigh in with thoughts or lessons of your own. So without further ado, here is…

#8. Sometimes you must kill that which you love

It’s called “killing your darlings” in the literary world. You can write the most kickass chapter ever with clever phrases, amazing descriptions and phenomenal chemistry…but that doesn’t mean it belongs in your book.

After I finished one of my drafts, I sent it off to my three beta readers for some good ole crit-love. They all came back with a common theme:

The first three chapters are great (*puffs chest out in pride*), but not necessary for the story...(*dagger to the heart…*) Axe ‘em. (*…aaannd twist!*)

I did the whole, “Really? Huh. I’ll look it over and give that some serious thought.”

But what I was screaming in my head was, “Are you effing kidding me?!?! Do you have any idea how much I love those chapters? How will people know what their relationship was like before he was turned into a vampire? How are they supposed to see how viciously he struggled against them to spare the woman he loves the same fate? Not to mention how his turning actually helped his subsequent brilliant escape. It’s just not possible. So put. Down. The crack pipe.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If All the World had a CP...

I know, I know...I've slacked on my Top 10 list. I promise I'll get back to that soon, but a thought occurred to me the other day that I'd like to share.  So here goes.

I currently have 4 acting CPs (Crit Partners) for my WIP, Soul Seduction.  I will fully admit that I'm probably making things a tad harder than I should by having 4 because the more diverse feedback you receive, the more confusing it can be as to what actions to take with their suggested changes.  However, there's no way I'd ever want to drop any of them because they all bring different talents to the table, and amazingly enough, their comments never conflict with one another.  I'm so grateful to each of them for their insight and unconditional support.

But, the specific incident that brought me to this topic is my one CP, Ella.  That's not really her name, by the way--it's Lea Ann (pronounced as Lee Ann)--but my fingers didn't like typing her full name, so I switched to LA, but saying those letters together sounded awkward, so then I changed the A to the short sound and when spoken (or thought), it becomes Ella.  But I usual. (sorry!)

So Ella is reading my first novel, Desires of the Soul.  I should also point out that she gets paid to edit fiction for publishing companies.  But when I gave her DotS, I thought, "Go ahead and read it, honey, and tell me if there are any slow parts or parts you think I could cut to get my word count down."  Because I have edited the CRAP out of that book, I figured she'd be more or less just reading for enjoyment with a comment here and there about repeated words or unnecessary sentences.

I certainly did NOT expect her to come back with comments like:
  • Why is she acting this way?
  • I don't understand his motivation.
  • Why is she letting him get away with that?
  • I feel like she's not reacting strongly enough here.
When I got the couple of chapters back that said all that, my first reaction was, "WHAT?!?!"

Then when I stopped hyperventilating and read my chapter with a fresh mind, I said, "Holy f&$%, she's right."