As a professional novelist, are there “rough patches” in your books that you accept aren’t as good or interesting as others or do you keep working until you polish every bit of prose to the same degree?
In the writing of a manuscript, the answer to this would be yes, the latter. I insist that the experience my reader has is 100% the best entertainment I can provide. I write, for the most part, in the mystery, romantic suspense genre. I can’t leave any holes. I also write with several characters so there may be more than one plot line. I like short chapters. I keep my readers moving at a fast pace. Well, you can tell that just from the way I answer your question.
First I plot on Excel. If a plot line is not up to par, it gets deleted. I’m brutal with myself. I’d rather write a novella that’s good than a novel that has chapters or ‘rough patches’ that will take away from your enjoyment as my reader. I can tell you that a reviewer will catch your rough patches and call you on them.
I received a MS back from my editor this evening. I told her to be totally honest: If you don’t like it or have areas that need work or total re-writing, tell me. I want to know how my readers will experience this book. So her job is to challenge me if my work is crap.
I haven’t opened it yet to see what changes she made. But in this particular case, by the time I sent the MS to my editor, it was edited 4 times by me. The topic is male prostitution in Puerto Vallarta Mexico so there is sex in this book—more than I would normally write. I was feeling insecure, not wanting the work to be smutty or erotic. I prefer that it be classified as Contemporary having adult content.
This is what she said:
Anyways, I LOVED this story. It was engrossing, fun, emotional, sexy, and even a little unnerving at times. It was perfect!
It’s interesting that she said ‘unnerving’ because that’s EXACTLY the experience I had when some of the stories flowed through me onto the page. Each adjective she used to describe the book is the tone I wanted to achieve. Now when I open it tomorrow, there may yet be things I will change. That’s the way I work.
But professional writing is a learning process too. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If you know there are rough patches, my advice would be to shelve the manuscript for a few months. Then go back to it and delete the parts that suck. It feels good to delete whole pages. I did it with this book and I liked the feeling. I said to myself: I can do much better than this, gone!
If you’re taking the time to read my work it better be the best that I can possibly deliver.
On another note, I want to thank Book Talk Radio Club for nominating TARGET in the SUN for Best Contemporary Novel of 2017! Thanks for the honor!! If you haven’t read it yet, here’s what reviewers are saying:
“Gripping and suspenseful, clever and sharp, Target in the Sun is a romantic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the format, telling parts of the story through letters. I also enjoyed how smoothly it read, the type of book that sucks you in. Highly recommended.”
“WOW, what a journey! I couldn’t wait to continue with the second, ‘Vanished in the Sun’. I read both in 2 days, and I’m totally exhausted now with all the action in the fight against the drug cartels, love, Mexican cultural knowledge and the beautifully descriptive word paintings of Western Mexico, especially the amazing sunsets! The super-secret off-the-grid organization keeping watch over these characters is “Genius! Very intriguing! Can’t wait for #3!