Hey writers, have you ever stopped to think about all the elements we fiction writers are attempting to balance as we write? Rewriting helps us layer in what we may have missed that first or second pass. Our guest today discusses writing historicals, rewrites, and how "knowing" and "doing" are two different things. Read on! ~ Annette
Rewrite, Rewrite, and Rewrite Some More
by Tanya Hanson
I’m meeting more and more authors who work full time, raise kids and pets, volunteer and do church work, and still manage to write books. I’m incredulous because...
...in the past, I did all those things concurrently except write books. I put it off until my kids went off to college. But I told myself I was learning. Preparing for my future as an author.
You see, I taught writing and literature to high school students. With my kids snug in their dormitories, I was mega-confident. Hadn’t I learned everything about writing by teaching it?
Well, there’s writing, and then there’s romance writing. I learned the difference quickly after joining an RWA chapter. A romance editor will excise long, overwrought paragraphs of description, no matter how perfectly they’re written. Why? Readers tend to skip them.
Readers want action—the push and pull of the hero and heroine falling in love and finding their faith, in spite of themselves.
So what do we romance writers do? Our characters have to live somewhere. Best advice—mix in details about the setting in the characters’ action and dialogue, rather than all at once like a travel brochure.
Same thing in historical romance. Nobody wants a long lecture about the past. I write historical Westerns. To set the time and place, I might show my cowboy-hero discussing with the sheriff some topics relevant to the Old West. Maybe women’s suffrage, a Civil War battle, or the latest rifle technology. He and the lawman could be searching the cowboy’s ranch for clues on cattle rustlers. Throughout their conversation, my hero imparts some of his backstory as well as some historical tidbits. And the reader gets a good—but quick—mental picture of the setting.
I can even add some intrigue. Maybe the sheriff is a fan of barbed wire closing up the open range and my hero is not. Hmmm. I’ve just foreshadowed a potential conflict.
Another hint: Romance writers show; they don’t tell. Those adverbs so beloved by my students now become actions. For instance, “I’ll never leave you,” he said tenderly becomes even better by showing. “I’ll never leave you.” He brushed his fingers across her cheek.
The romance reader needs to “feel” not just “read” what’s going on. The plain old He held her hand becomes much more personal as Her breath hitched when he took her hand.
To quote Elmore Leonard, “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.” Even more so for those of us in romance. We want our readers to feel what our characters feel and not waste time or words getting there. Cutting and revising and editing hurts, but our stories are better for it.
|Claiming His Heart|
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