Current Release

Current Release
The Warrior's Viking Bride

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Looking for the less obvious

First of all, as I know some people do not read comments, I would like to thank Isabel Swift for leaving two comments and highly recommend people take the time and trouble to read them. As one would expect of a vice president of Harlequin and highly experienced editor (including at one stage Nora Roberts) the comments are pithy and to the point as well as being wonderfully reassuring, particularly about the Crows of Doubt!
One thing that I think authors sometimes forget is that editors have a share in readers, and that their aim is to provide the best possible read for their readers. I for one loved her concept of handholds for readers. And handholds in the concept of places to hang hats, or grips as one is climbing a rock face. Things to make the reading experience more enjoyable, so that the reader does not fall out of the book. But they also need to be subtle so that the reader just accepts it and the story flows.
In her second comment she also focuses on the less obvious and how she uses the mantra about donuts.
Now I know when I get my editors' thoughts, I try to focus on the why behind the remarks and try to discover what bit is not working. Is the scene that is highlighted? What is it about the scene that doesn't work? And where I have gone wrong? Also how can I fix it and still keep true the story I want to tell... And sometimes, an author is just far too close to the story...
For example when I came to do revisions to Taken by The Viking, I had a late sensual scene. My editor wrote back congratulating me for attempting it, stated how lovely it was but that it didn't quite work. The basic problem was that at point in the story, there was no sexual tension, or at least not in the same way as it had been earlier. The obvious answer might have been to up the tension. However, it was also a warm lovely moment and needed to be that way for what came next...so I chose the less obvious (and I believe stronger way) of making that moment really lovely, warm and tender and therefore making what comes next all the more poignant. Luckily my editor at the time agreed with me.
In another place in Taken, I knew something was wrong but could not put my finger on it. There were reasons why I thought the scene should be in Haakon's POV. I knew that it wasn't right. My cps had told me that it missed, but could I see the solution? However, my editor said -- actually, it will work far better in Annis's. And she was right. In that case, I had been focusing on the hole and not the needs of the story.
Ultimately, it is the flow of the story and the reader's experience that is overriding concern. satisfied readers mean they are likely to return to your books, and indeed books published by a specific company.

Oh and Donna mentioned subtexts. But that is a whole another blog about the need to have a scene work as hard as it possibly can, and the need for layers...

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