I finished my sixth romance, and after I settled down, I liked it, but I knew it needed more. I had ideas on how to fix it, but they were vague, floaty kinds of things and I wasn’t sure what to focus on. And then my critique partners gave me their feedback, and they put a LOT of time into working on my novel, even lost sleep over it. I’ve mentioned before, haven’t I, that my critique partners are awesome? For the most part, they liked what was there, but they told me what was missing. And that’s exactly what I needed.
I’ve been chugging through chapters, doing more work than usual on rewrites. The book’s getting longer, but better–I hope. And it made me think about a few books that I’ve started lately and fizzled on. One was humorous, and my idea of humor and the author’s weren’t even close. I think humor is hard. The writing in the book was solid, but the author loved silly, exagerrated circumstances and I’m more of an understated type of funny fan. So that book was just a difference in style and taste. The other books that didn’t do it for me were also well written, but they pretty much skimmed the surface of plot and character. And I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d done for book six. I finished three of those books, but I finished them dissatisfied. I felt like I’d read a series of events, but I never got pulled into the story.
I think that maybe the difference between a good book and a great book is that a great book makes you breathe and feel what the characters are feeling. A good book can entertain you and help you pass time, but a great book worms itself into your brain and lives there. It doesn’t have to be about some huge, momentous event either. I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books, and the events are usually personal to her characters and their families, but she makes me CARE because small things in life can seem big and feel momentous. To accomplish that, the authors who are my favorites use telling details and internal dialogue. We understand their wants and their motivations. We feel their angst. Sometimes, big events can swallow a character. The event drives the story, and that can be fun, but for me, a story’s even stronger if we live through an event through the character and have to struggle and worry with him.
Anyway, I hope my rewrites make my characters’ motivations even stronger. I hope I end up with a book readers will enjoy and remember. And if you’re pounding the keys now, happy writing to you, too!