Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That He-She Thing

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Romance and other Writers: Let's study that He-She Thing:

In general romance, writers need to reach beyond and dig deeper than their own life experience. Here are some of my tips to consider:

We’re as different as our birth signs. John Gray’s study of Venus and Mars books are excellent studies for the general romance man/woman basic relationships.

Historical romance writers have an easier time of creating the male protagonist/hero—this because in historical times males had a designated role, just as females did. Yet he had to be appealing enough for the Heroine. Now with Equal Opportunity, etc., sex harrassment, etc., romance needs to temper the hero’s power over the heroine just that tad more. (We know that the heroine has her own power, right? :))

Excellent Story Twists: Expectations of relationship and romance can conflict, and do. For instance: A hasty marriage and shift in a heartbeat, because H/H expectations are different. Who does what in the partnership? Who pays the bills? Stay at home mom or career mom? Household management, etc. Whose Friends antagonize, etc.? Who does not look at the opposite sex too much? So when push comes to shove, and expectations are not met, are they reasonable or not, when considered by the opposite partner? Thus, a story twist.

The Pendragon Virus, one of my early contemporaries, is an example of man/woman expectations and therefore, the interesting battle of the sexes.

Physical Action and Body Posturing: This is an area that is critical to the creative writer, not just words, but Actions and Posturing. A flirtatious gesture by a woman, a second look by a man—much slower, more intense—a man showing off his strength, angling his head, sticking his thumb in his waistband, both hands slid into trouser pockets, tensing of his shoulders, neck cords, etc.

That flirtatious gesture by a woman: a look over her shoulder, maybe a little more sway to her walk, arranging her hair, etc. are typical.

Dressing the H/H: Tighter clothes to show off assets, looser clothing for movement or shielding self, updated or outdated clothing. Jewelry or not, expensive etc. And shoes. Is she checking herself in the mirror to see if she appeals to him? His favorite color of dress? Is he sprucing up for her? It’s all part of the mating ritual, seen in wildlife. Dressing also includes preferences, i.e. Sam in The Pendragon Virus loves his classic oil-dripping Bertha.

Back to Expectations: If one H expects certain behavior from h/her prospective mate and those expectations are not met, that’s a twist.

Romantic Touch: How each H/H touches the other: a stroke, a gentle brush of a fingertip, examining the other’s face, the various shades of hair, the tiny crinkles at the side of the eyes, examining a tiny scar and its history, the texture of skin, the comparative size of their hands when held. Any kind of nervous/excited tremor when touching, a desperate need touch/grip need to be contrasted with gentler moments.

Lots of little nuances in the He-She Thing. When they are missing, the texture of the story/romance is off.

I hope you’ll comment/input on this post?

Friday, July 11, 2014

15 Ways to Edit the Feel


The Basket Maker's Wife

You’ve written the whole story and it’s time to edit. Last century, when I started writing, I began writing with a big checklist: Who, What, Why, When. Then there’s the 5 senses, etc. And making punctuation work.
There’s the Plotter and the Plunger style of writing. Sometimes to just get into the story, to get into the pulse/heartbeat of it, I try to write whatever in the set-up, pushing it. I’m fine with Dreck, if it gets the story rolling.
I’m editing now and toning, darkening/lightening, watching those paragraphs for dialogue/narrative positions. If dialogue is placed within the body of a paragraph's narrative, it will be overpowered visually. Thus, either at the beginning or the end of the paragraph.
Right now, in the final stages, I’m feeling my way through what works and doesn’t. 

So here's some hot tips to Massage/Edit the work:
1.     Are subcharacters too strong, trying to overpower the main characters.
2.     When paragraphs change mood, that is the time for a new paragraph.
3.     Today’s e-novels need shorter paragraphs.
4.     Today’s readers may want more quick action up front. (The writer has to be very well known to pull off a slow start and build now.)
5.     If the story lags, is it time to drop a dead body into it, or at least change POV?
6.     Watch the em dashes and ellipses. If interruption is needed em dashes work. If pausing, ellipses. Use them to create more normal dialogue, rather than rattatat back to back sentences.
7.     Someone long ago said to watch how many clauses in one sentence. 2 are usually enough or max.
8.     There’s the old: Is the second chapter a better place to start?
9.     Is too much background packed into the first chapter?
10.  The first paragraph in a chapter has more impact, if it is shorter.
11.  Likewise, the first chapter is the come-on, so a little shorter.
12.  Who’s talking tags aren’t always needed, but if Dialogue is back and forth, some tags are needed to keep the reader within the story. Some physical action, rather than blah-blah-blah. !!These are live people, who move, whose expressions shift.
13.  Breaking a tense scene. Be careful not to distract from the weight by noticing outside elements, i.e. a bird in the window. However. If that bird intensifies the scene, then it is valid.
14.  Ye Olde: All questions should be answered—or not, depending.
15.  Flashbacks: Keep to a minimum. Make certain you introduce the Flashback and then Exit it to the current Now.

Every writer has their personal difficulties, and that’s why we have editors. Good editors. IMHO some editors work better with nonfiction, while others are better at fiction. Some have a talent for exposing humor, emotions, character. Repeat: Talent.

If an editor is not “talented”, he may edit only by the book/rules. This might not serve the work well. Keep in mind that the writer owns the work and style is the writer’s domain, this over a suggestion that does not work. But take all suggestions and mull them. What works, works, right?

If the wrong editor works on a fiction piece, or too many “cooks” are critiquing, it can suck the life right out of the work.

Would love to have your comments on Editing the Feel.