The Unbearable Rightness of Editing

Clay

Having just been up until two in the morning working on the developmental edit of Dance with Me, the last thing I want to do at this moment is write.

Wait. I’m a writer. I love to write.

I love it more than a car that starts on the first try and doesn’t smell like something feral has taken up residence in the AC. I love it more than Anthropologie sundresses and fat, oily, herb-flecked olives and all the things you can buy when you have a regular job that pays real money!

Much as I would like to write, however, my brain has been drained by the process some call editing, and some call revising, but I call waterboarding of the brain.

Apparently, we writers fall into two camps: Those who love editing and those who hate it.

You know which camp I’m in.

For me, writing that first draft is like those first heady days of a new romance, all about exploration and adventure and tender outpourings of the heart. It’s getting on a train just to see where it goes. It’s butterflies in your belly and waking up each morning wondering what fresh delight awaits.

Editing, on the other hand, is all about raking over old territory with a critical eye. It’s about finding problems you wish you could ignore and deliberating and debating until you find a solution. It’s riding a bicycle uphill into the wind. It’s eye-strain headaches and falling into bed at the end of the day completely exhausted.

Maybe a bit more like marriage.

(Joking, of course! Marriage is great 95% of the time. But that other five. Phew!)

Editing is important, of course. Necessary.

Can’t have characters wearing a t-shirt one moment and a sweater the next. Or pulling guns out of pockets they don’t have. Can’t have a plot point that’s too predictable, or alternatively, doesn’t allow suspension of disbelief. Can’t break in the middle of a passionate clinch to describe the sunset.

Still. The minute Microsoft comes up with a program that can find all the inconsistencies, gaps of logic, pacing issues, weak passages and FIX THEM, I am buying it.

In the meantime, I’m going to power down my laptop, stretch out on a lounge chair with a something cold, wet and possibly alcoholic, and stare into the middle distance.

Right after I edit this blog post.

Ditch the Bitch? Romance Is No Place for a Man’s Woman

Snow White and Rose Red

Question: Do romance writers have the responsibility to portray positive interactions and relationships between women in their books?

There are two reasons I’ve been thinking about this.

The first is a discussion the Goodreads Unapologetic Romance Readers have been having about the soccer romance novel, Kulti by Mariana Zapata. In the book, the female protagonist’s relationships with women seem to be superficial or openly antagonistic.

I don’t have a problem with this. I view it as in keeping with the character’s personality and history. Some of the other members disagree.

The second is the upcoming release of Dance with Me, my contemporary erotic romantic suspense (Whew! That’s a mouthful).

After I finished the first draft and, like a good little writer, let it sit for a month, I went back and reread. When I got to the end, I realized something. My protagonist, ambitious reporter Sherry Wilson-Wong, had no female friends. Not only that, but most of her interactions with other women were uncomfortable and/or hostile.

Huh, I thought. Do I need to change that?

I considered rewriting her friend and colleague, Peter, as a woman. I thought about rewriting her rival at work as a man, or changing her curmudgeonly but supportive boss to a woman. I even briefly toyed with the idea of shifting her difficult relationship with her mother onto the shoulders of her father.

In the end, I did none of these things.

Why not?

Because they didn’t feel authentic to the story or to who Sherry was as a character.

If I changed the dynamic of those relationships, I would have to change who Sherry was. And if I changed the personality of my heroine, I would have to change the choices she made. And if I changed her choices, well, I would have a completely different book.

When I write, my characters come to me fully formed, with insecurities and complicated histories intact. Do I, as their creator, have the ability to change them? Of course. But that is not the question I’m interested in. What I want to know is, should I?

As a writer and a feminist, is it my job to be pushing that feminist agenda when I create my characters?

Should I be writing about women who have healthy friendships with other women, who mentor and support, who don’t slut-shame or compete, who aren’t jealous and don’t sleep with other women’s husbands?

Or should I write about the characters who spring from my subconscious mind, flawed and conflicted and maybe just a little bit like someone you know?

What do you think?

Sultry Summer Reads

 

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Oh, summer, you sexy thang. Sun-burnished skin, the trickle of sweat down a naked back, ripe berries bursting with juice, the slow lick of an ice-cream cone. It’s the season of the birds and the bees, of slowing down and loosening up.

To celebrate the first day of the most sensuous season, Please, Submit and Hot Shots are all on sale for 25% off at All Romance Ebooks for today only.

How hot is that?

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