|Hailey, on patrol, 2013
|Ready for skating competition, 2016
My Futuristic Paranormal Rebel Princess not only has a pub date at long last - February 23 - but is now on pre-order at Amazon. If you'd care to take a peek . . . here's the link.
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RUNNING OFF AT THE KEYBOARD
Rant time again. I watched a perfectly good book go downhill fast this week as it went from a fine story of love and suspense to too much repetition, too many ponderous details, and a plot that belabored its denouement to the point of extinction. And it's not only indie authors without adequate content editing that are making this mistake. One of my all-time favorite authors, print-published by a major publisher, is also guilty of similar errors in her most recent works. In her case, perhaps her editor thought she was so well-known, her readers would swallow whatever she wrote. Well, this reader didn't. I flipped through the last sixty to eighty pages of her last two books just the way I did with the indie book I just finished.
But how to explain the fix needed? That's a tough one. Even as an experienced editor, as I read the book, I asked myself, "What would I tell this author to cut? How can I explain she's beating a dead horse, that a book has to keep moving forward? Once the action plot has been resolved, the villain exposed or the book's major challenge) resolved, then it's time to settle the romance and move into Happily Ever After. In the book that set me off on my rant, more than three-quarters of the book was a gripping story, unique and well told. And then it began to dither, evidently trying to be a 100,000-word book when 80,000 would have been enough. Similar scenes were repeated over and over, the story going nowhere. Details that had previously enhanced the story now seemed to bog down the pace just when it should be picking up, moving toward a conclusion. Emotion that originally captivated now poured off the pages in a flood, repetitive, unproductive. Signifying nothing. What was exciting became boring as the same old plot points were flogged across the page, again and again.
Stories must constantly move forward. The hero and heroine solving problems, discovering new ones. Wading through the intricacies of a relationship. Floundering, moving on. The dialogue as fresh and innovative on page 250 as it was on page 25. But the writer has to be able to sense when the story needs winding up. When it's time to build toward the big action finale, after which the story should quickly ease into a resolution of the love story. (And, yes, it's always in that order. That's one of the unbending "rules" of romance.)
Going back for a moment to word count - never, ever, take a story that can be told, and told well, in 80,000 words and try to "pad" it to 100,000. Your readers' eyes will glaze, guaranteed! If you absolutely, positively believe your book must be 100,000 words, then you need to add enough action, sub-plots and secondary characters to sustain 100,000 words. As previously stated, it's deadly to pad a story by finding new words to say the same thing twenty times over! So . . .
1. Do not fall in love with your own words, spewing them out in an endless repetitive stream.
2. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because you write well, with emotion, color, and clever dialogue, you can get away with repeating yourself. Say what you have to say, say it well, then let go. Your readers are busy people, bright people. Don't waste their time belaboring a point.
3. Do not reveal the villain (or whatever major revelation is the climax of your tale), then spend fifty-plus pages on a sub-plot with only an occasional vague reference to the story's main storyline.
4. Do not write endless pages of emotion-filled rhetoric, which end up overwhelming and destroying what might have been a climactic moment. A moment now drowned under an avalanche of histrionics.
5. Instead, write that Big Moment for all its worth. Pull out all the stops. Action, details, color, emotion. Wring every ounce of drama out of it. Then LET IT GO! Move on to the quiet moments that come after—the relief, the explanations.
6. And then comes that absolute "must" - the resolution of conflict between the hero and heroine (with optional sex scene and/or optional glimpse of the future).
Grace note: There are many nuances to the above, but I hope you get the gist of it. "Running off at the Keyboard" is a kiss of death. Don't fall in love with sound of your own "voice." See your work as others see it. Tell readers what they need to know, tell it well, then "hands off!" Enough is enough, and any other cliché you can think of to keep you from turning a lean, mean, fighting machine into a candidate for Extreme Weight Loss.
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Thanks for stopping by,
For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.
For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.