Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simmer Until FULLY Heated

Some of you may have noticed I've been on a bit of a self-imposed blogging "time-off" lately. The self-imposed part makes "time-off" different from a "time-out," but it's similar in several ways.

For example, I've been sitting in a proverbial corner, pouting, wanting things to be different than they are, thinking, "Life's not fair!" and "Why, me, WHY ME???" Oh yeah. And there's the fist-pounding.

But now, my "time-off/out" is over. The moon and stars have shifted their positions in the sky (yes, I realize the Earth spins, but I'm going for dramatic effect here) and it's time for me to climb out of my cozy, dark corner and get back to work.

Let me back up. AA took me to Powell's Books & Orgasmatorium in Portland a few weeks ago and forced me at gunpoint to purchase a used copy of TWILIGHT. I doth protested muchly, but her cold glare stopped me dead in my tracks. I grabbed it from her hands, sighed loudly, gave her an evil glare, and marched to the check-out counter.

Last night I finished the damn book.

Okay, I admit, I loved it. (This is the part where my writerly BFF, Julie, who has been touting the wonders of all things Stephenie Meyer for the past year as I've defiantly rolled my eyes in disgust and proclaimed, "Vampires? PUHLEASE!!!"collapses to the floor in a wild fit of self-righteous laughter.) Anyhoo, when I read Becca Fitzpatrick's, "Hush Hush," I had a light-bulb moment realizing my story needed to be changed from 3rd person POV to 1st. Big, huge deal. My light-bulb moment while reading TWILIGHT was nearly 500 pages long. The magic here, and the thing I avoid in most areas of my life? SLOWING DOWN.

I move fast. Just the other night I was out with someone walking around downtown Philly and he said, "Damn, girl, you walk fast!" Yeah, I do. I'm from Brooklyn. We do everything fast.

What did I realize I need to slow down in my story? Romance! Edward and Bella don't even profess their true feelings for each other until halfway through the book! Their first kiss? Somewhere around page 300. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? And, the crazy thing is? It freaking works!!!

Tension, desire, anticipation, lust, mystery, utter joy. Those are the elements that, if written wisely, can be pure genius. TWILIGHT is not a book about vampires, it's a love story, plain and simple. And it's an epic love story. The reader "gets" how fully Edward and Bella are in love and are committed to one another. And, from a world-building standpoint? RIGHT. ON. THE. MONEY. A feverish love story with picture-perfect world building? That's no easy task, my friends, no easy task.

So, now, it's back to work for me. I'm lucky in that the bones of my book are solid, the concept interesting, and the characters engaging. Now, all I need to do is throw in the proper amounts of spices and let simmer until fully heated.

What about you? What are some of the things you realize you need to change/edit/work on in your stories. What parts do you nail, and what do you need work on?

36 comments:

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I need not to rush the story lines and characters. Like you, I "walk" fast through life. Pacing is important in my life and in my stories.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Donna, You're so right - pacing is important. Slowing down doesn't come naturally for me. It's something I need to consciously work on.

Ruthanne Reid said...

Fantastic realization - and exactly what I've been realizing for myself this past week. I needed to not rush things, not think about word count until it's done, not worry about making it "boring" right off the bat (i.e., self-editing when writing because I am a BAD PERSON).

It changed the story, but not completely. The major events/stepping stones are the same - but the river? Utterly different.

Go you for this realization. And hugs. Because we all need them. :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Ruthanne, Thanks for the hugs. I could always use them. ;-)

And, yes, sometimes we need to be hit over the head with a semi in order to see the obvious flaws in our writing. Oy vey.

Sybir St. John said...

I'm the same. I write fast. The plot moves quickly. I blame all my years in the proposal industry where I've worked to cut things down to a bare minimum to get the point across. But, some of my best stories are those that are long and more drawn out.

Or, we're just fast paced because we're East Coast girls and aren't sure HOW to slow down??? ;)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Stacia, Or, we're just fast paced because we're East Coast girls and aren't sure HOW to slow down??? ;)
BINGO!!!!

Mollie said...

Well East coast girls are hip, I really love those styles they wear. And the Southern girls with the way they talk, they knock me out when I'm down there....

Laura Eno said...

I'm guilty! I'm afraid of boring readers so I rush along at a boil. No simmering allowed. :)

Suzyhayze said...

THIS is a great post. When I was querying my first book (a haunted house story) I used a whole chapter to describe the house. An agent I was working with at the time directed me to read Jackson's classic "Haunting of Hill House." I read... and held my breath to see how brilliantly and explicitly the house was described. Well, in the book.. the main character drives up the winding driveway to the house and describes it for us.

I'll never forget it.

"It was a vile house."

That was it. Jackson's genius was in letting the reader create their own horrific place. My problem with exposition ended right there and made my second and third novel that much stronger.

Great post girl! I walk fast too.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Mollie, You're so naughty, but then you already knew that, right? ;-))

Debra L. Schubert said...

Laura, I'm so glad I'm not the only one, but some things need to simmer. Ah, the things we learn if we don't give up. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Suzy, "This is a vile house." Effing genius. A perfect example of "less is more." I'm on the other side of the spectrum, however, leaving my readers wanting SOME more. That "some" is what I'm working on.

PS: Have I told you lately that I love you?

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I often find myself defending Twilight for similar reasons. Meyer created a chaste, compelling romance. It really is a terrific study of how true romance is primarily in the head. It's also, sadly, something that doesn't translate well to the screen (e.g., agonized grimaces, alas)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jeffe, I only saw, "New Moon" without having read any of the books. I liked it, but then, I didn't have a book to compare it to. I was as shocked as anyone at how much I enjoyed TWILIGHT. ;-))

April said...

Pacing...my first drafts come out rushed. It's not until the second (and third and fourth and so-on) revisions that things slow down. I've definitely found myself doing that before though with my writing - I get so excited that I just have to get to where I'm going instead of taking my time...not too much time, of course, but some time. I'm rambling, and if you heard my talking aloud, I'd be speaking much too quickly... ;)

Green Monkey said...

I still haven't read it - even went as far as to give my copy away... now, I really want to read it!

Debra L. Schubert said...

April, That's exactly how I write - kind of like lightening at first, and then I have to sloooooow down and get the details and the build-up right. And, like I said, I'm from Brooklyn, so you couldn't speak too fast for my NY ears. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

GM, Hah! I've resisted it with ease and looked upon it with utter disgust. Shows what the hell I know. ;-))

Tawna Fenske said...

Funny, I had exactly the same experience with TWILIGHT. I was certain I wouldn't like it, and ended up adoring it. The second one not so much,and I never could make it through the third one, but I was mightily impressed with the first.

Tawna

Debra L. Schubert said...

Tawna, I agree. As much as I loved TWILIGHT, I don't really have any desire to read the other books. (Ducks for oncoming rocks being thrown by Twi-Moms!)

Kimberly Franklin said...

Go AA!! I'm so glad she forced you to read Twilight. And see, it helped you out. :)

I hope you have a great day!!

Laci said...

I laughed at "I move fast" and your fast walking bit. I DO THE SAME THING and it drives my husband nuts! Just a few weeks ago in Disneyland he had to pull back on my shirt to slow me down. I also am a fast mover in life. I did everything early and moved on. Example. I got married at 17 had baby #1 at 18. SEE SUPER FAST! My car is a blur on the road fast fast fast. Gretchen told me about this post and I loved it. I too need to slow down my love story. And this too will tick off my husband. He hates when I write a love story. I think he gets jealous, who am I kidding I know he does. Do you have that problem?
Thanks for the tips.

Jemi Fraser said...

I still haven't read Twilight - the copy I have keeps circulating in the classroom - I'll have to read it in the summer. :)

I have to go back in and flesh out some scenes. I don't do a lot of description - I can see everyone... what do you mean the reader can't??? Yeah. So I go back :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Kim, There's no doubt AA is much smarter than me. This is simply more evidence. ;-))

Debra L. Schubert said...

Laci, Wow, you are fast! Your husband gets jealous of the love stories you write? He should realize they're opportunities for him to further your relationship...!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jemi, You crack me up. Read TWILIGHT. You'll enjoy it. Like other things in my life, how I describe it is "going kicking and screaming into heaven." Sometimes we just don't know a good thing when we see it.

Jody Hedlund said...

I totally agree. I think love stories definitely need to build the emotional and romantic tension throughout, and it needs to be done slowly and naturally. That's what makes the climax SO fulfilling. I guess I can say this without being too crass--especially here on your blog! ;-) But isn't it just like forplay? The more, the better?

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jody, Absolutely. There can never be too much foreplay. ;-))

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm finishing a re-edit of my self-published book Breakthrough. I realized I wrote very long sentences. I edited out 30 pages and about 10,000 words. It now stands at 400 pages and 135,000 words. I lost nothing.

Its leaner. Its meaner. Moves a lot quicker and the reader will be happy for that.

Stephen Tremp

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Debra,

I think pouting in dark corners and fist waving and "life isn't fair" statements are all standard issue for writers. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) cheers~

Debra L. Schubert said...

Stephen, Good for you. Editing is what separates the men from the boys, so to speak. Best of luck!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Nancy, True. Like editing, pouting is part of the writing process. ;-)

Mollie said...

Remember in the movie, "A river runs through it" when the father has the boys write an essay, and they bring it to him... Two or three times he sends them back to their desks saying, "again, but half as long". I love an economy of words. Value in minimalism. Vivid imagination requires it.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Mollie, Never saw the movie, but what a great story you illustrate. Less is often more in so many areas of life. ;-)

prashant said...

It changed the story, but not completely. The major events/stepping stones are the same - but the river? Utterly different.
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