Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tough Love

I had to make a tough decision over the weekend. I thought I had solved my subplot problem with the work-in-progress, only to realize It was worse and deeper than I thought.

Because I'd made a very basic mistake.

I found a fascinating historical fact and was so keen to use it, I tried to shoehorn it into a story that it didn't really suit. As I said to my editor when I emailed her about it, I was trying to combine My Fair Lady with Law & Order, and it wasn't working. The My Fair Lady part (ie. the romance) had to have a certain tone (lighter), and the Law & Order part a different one (quite dark). However, I already had dark undercurrents to the romance, so add in the L&O, and oooh, baby, the balance tipped way over to the dark side.

If this were a medieval, or being written by somebody else, that might be perfectly fine. But this is a Regency, being written by me, which means I want lots of snappy dialogue more suited to a comedy than a drama. This also being me, however, I want those dark undercurrents -- but it wound up really ping-ponging between lighter and dark and very dark.

So it became not just a plot problem or a pacing problem, but also a tone problem. If there's one place I don't want conflict in my book, it's the overall tone. Scenes can have different tones, of course, depending on what's happening, but I don't want it sound like I tried to combine two very different stories into a Frankenbooken.

Fortunately, my Esteemed Editor agreed to the change.

I must confess, it was like getting an 800 lb. gorilla off my back.

That does mean a lot of rewriting, but I tell ya, it's a lot easier to do that than to try to make the wrong shoe fit.

1 comment:

Maureen McGowan said...

OH! I had something so similar with my last project. Except for the fitting in a historical detail part. It was an imaginary plot point for me. But a deliciously dark thing that just came to me while I was writing and that I thought was so heartbreaking and powerful... And that at least some of my CP's thought was bold and heartbreaking, too... But I ultimately realized it simply didn't fit in the book I was writing.

Not only was it too dark for the overall tone, it was pushing the boundaries of believability in a book where I was already asking the reader to take a pretty major fundamental leap of faith with me. I realized that since the entire premise of the book was supernatural, that every other detail in the book had to be grounded very firmly to avoid that possible eye-rolling thing...

All in all, my deliciously dark plot point was too much.

I, too, felt so great the day I realized it had to go, as much as I'd hung onto it for dear life.