Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Followups

What I'm reading: No One Left to Tell, by Jordan Dane

What I'm working on: Revised Chapter 1, scene 2 of Fozzie's book.

Bits and pieces:

Handyman Lane
The handyman company sent a different worker (a guy, this time) to do the final fix-ups. He's a professional painter, and he tells me the original crew did not do what they contracted, and did a poor job overall. Seems that when we opted out of the orange peel finish, they should have put a skim coat on the walls and primed them. I guess I'll call the company and see if there's a financial adjustment, because I sure as heck am not going to sit through all the painting again. Meanwhile, the guy promises to do what he can to touch up some of the holidays, and he'll mount the wall mirror and hook correctly this time.

Character names -- while on the flight to Syracuse, I looked in my seat pocket and found the boarding pass of whoever sat there on the previous flight. "Rhys Ainsworthy". Gotta use that in a book someday. And who do you 'see' belonging to that name?

Back story
Yesterday, I devoted most of my time to hunkering down with the new WIP. Since I'd brainstormed many of the plot points with my daughter, it was "simply" a matter of putting the words on the page to show it. But it does raise the issue of 'how much back story does the reader need?' I now know almost everything about my heroine's (Torie at the moment) past. But putting it front and center will only slow the pace. Still, the reader has to have a reason to care about a character, and in the early pages of the book, readers are still getting a handle on who's who. Does a reader want to know all about Torie's childhood? I don't think so. Not now, anyway.

I also brought in a new character or two--it's easier to deal with exposition if you can show it in scene rather than using long passages of interior monologue or narrative. I try to limit myself to no more than 2 or 3 short paragraphs when I'm dealing with back story. This means my heroine's best friend gets to live a little longer, because I needed her around to explain what the heck the characters are doing there in the first place.

Another pitfall is the Maid-Butler (or As You Know Bob) dialog. Two people who know what's happening don't talk about the details, or 'spell out' definitions. Cops know what AFIS and CODIS are. It's always easier to have a lay person on scene, so the pros can (patiently) explain what they've just said.

Also, another pebble in the road. One of the new characters is a guy--but he's not the hero. Readers of romance want to get a handle on h/h as soon as possible. I didn't have a clue about this expectation (there are no rules) when I wrote Finding Sarah and actually introduced a non-hero as the first male on the page. It worked, but I had a lot of questions during the draft process. Heck, Allison Brennan killed one of the "very likely the hero' characters halfway through the book.

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