Monday, September 03, 2007


Today was the Moxie meeting. The ladies brought me their crits of the manuscript, and none of it was anything irreparable. A few details here and there that are easily enough addressed. The only part not so easily addressed was not having a character the ladies could fully relate to.

Say, what? If my own crit group can't relate to my main character, that's bad. After the initial shock (NOW you tell me?) I went about figuring out what went wrong, where, and why. They say it's not that bad. They say they'd still happily buy the book even if it wasn't mine, and they'd read it more than once. But they wouldn't make the same choices my character does, they don't always jive with her take on life and her reactions to events, and apparently they failed to connect to her because I'd failed to put in one of the layers of emotional content found in the sequels to some of the action scenes. They felt distanced from her because she wasn't internalizing enough.

That's a tough one for me. I was trying to hone my craft a little. I know how to give a character an internal monologue and make her analyze what she's feeling. But this time I'd tried to do a little less internal monologuing and instead put more of her emotion in visceral, physical reactions. I could say "She was shocked." Or I could say, "She sucked in a breath, unable to do more than stare. Moments ticked by while she waited for the punched-in-the-gut feeling to pass."

Both convey the emotion of shock. The first one merely tells, while the second one shows. That's the kind of difference I was trying to achieve. Where you don't need to openly state the emotion because you show it in the character's physical reactions. If my heart rate speeds up, I doubt I'm perfectly calm. If my breathing changes or I clench my fist, shouldn't that give some clue as to what I might be feeling? I'd have thought so. But maybe I screwed up somewhere. If I did, I'll fix it.

I'll go through and edit in another layer of emotion where I can. It's possible I did truncate my sequels (or ends of scenes) a little too much. In trying to tighten up the middle, I left my character with scarcely a breath between scenes. But there are some definitely emotive moments, and I'm shocked (shocked, I say!) that those moments that seemed emotional and poignant to me failed to touch my friends.

I hate problems with a manuscript. I hate them, hate them, hate them. Especially when no one is able to tell me what to do to fix it. Every time I think it's fine, someone waits until the last minute to tell me its not fine. And I'm out of time. Maybe it'll never be fine. And maybe not fine is still pretty damn good. I don't know. Dang it.

Maybe we've all seen this manuscript one too many times. I need hot tea. I need fresh eyes. I need Bob to read the book and give me some clarity on it. Tonight, I'd go kill something if I thought I could get away with it. But then I'd hate myself in the morning.

Arrgh! Back to the drawing board.

Moving on....

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