Editing and Revising and the HEA
Posted by rwday on February 26, 2009
I’m trying to post here more frequently in hopes it will spur me to do more writing. Hard to blog about my writing when I’m not doing any.
I am a fairly good editor. I can tighten up a sentence, eliminate paragraphs here and there that don’t really contribute to the forward flow of the story, but I find true editing (in the sense of revision) very difficult. When it comes to moving scenes around or completely rewriting sections of a text, I just sit in front of the screen, staring blankly.
Part of it is the way I conceptualize my stories – in my mind, they’re real. Things happen the way they happen, and especially once they’re down on paper, changing them feels a bit like Winston Smith in the Ministry of Truth. I have to keep telling myself that I AM in control. Whatever I say, goes. If I want David to get on a tramp steamer to Argentina so he can become a flamenco dancer, I can do it. (I won’t, but I could.)
Being a bit more serious… (and there may be subtle spoilers for Ashes below the line)
Thaw was not intended to be a romance, though it certainly has romantic elements and some of my readers have been romance fans. That worries me in a way, as I don’t want those folks to be disappointed in the sequel. Ashes is definitely NOT a romance, not in the sense that the word has come to be used by the publishing industry. When I wrote Ashes, the last “romance novel” I read was some Rosemary Rogers thing published in the late 70′s/early 80′s. I had no idea, until quite recently, how much the genre has changed.
I didn’t realize, for example, that now it’s considered bad form for the hero and heroine (or hero and hero in my case) to have relationships with other people after they’ve met each other. In the bad old days of romance, you’d see heroines jumping in and out of bed, sometimes to make the hero jealous, sometimes because circumstances had forced them apart, etc. Sometimes they would even fall in love with these secondary partners.
That, in my opinion, is realism. Human beings are not swans. While we can mate for life, we don’t have to, and it’s perfectly possible for someone to love more than one person with the same intensity and desire at the same time. We have unlimited capability for love – ask any parent, if you doubt it.
It makes no sense to me that if two healthy young people are forced apart by circumstances, that they wouldn’t become involved with other people. They may not intend for it to happen, but jeez, men have needs. (women, too, but that’s not the focus here). Not just the need for sexual release, either. The need to connect to other human beings for comfort, for fun, to confide in, is a very real need and it’s stupid to have some idiotic writing convention that says otherwise.
Am I saying that there’s no Happily Ever After in Ashes? No. I’m saying there’s no HEA in life, because as long as you’re alive, there is no such thing as ‘ever after.’ I’m saying that being involved in other relationships does not preclude a happy ending, that in fact, through exploration of oneself and the world, through exposure to new people and situations, characters will grow and change, and the core relationship will also change.
I hope that I can promise my readers that the progress and eventual ending of the romance portion of this story will make sense and will suit the characters as they’ve developed. That’s about the best I can do, and it’s what I’m working for as I revise this book.