This weeks challenge for us Romance Writers Weekly members comes from Carrie Elks:
“Stephen King famously said that it's necessary to 'kill your darlings' when editing your work. Do you have anything you had to remove from a book that you're still proud of? Or something that embarrasses you so much it will never again see the light of day? If you're feeling really brave, share some of it with us!”
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
It is often a single image that inspires me when I am thinking of ideas for new stories. For my novel “No Life But This”, that image was a young woman spinning a globe, longing for excitement and adventure. Many of us have done this – watched the world blurring by, then tapping it with one finger and saying “There, that’s where I’m going.” My heroine, Abigail, does exactly that, and finds love on the tiny, little known Portuguese island of San Miguel, Azores.
After I’d written the manuscript, I sent it out into the world of beta readers. And almost every single one of them said they enjoyed the book once the romance got going, but that it started soooooo slowly. So I tightened up the beginning – and more readers said exactly the same thing. In the end, I hacked off about five chapters, before I finally found what I feel is the right place to start the story.
But I still have a soft spot for the original opening scene. It was this image, this atmosphere, that sparked the entire story. Maybe a reader doesn’t need it, but as a writer I think I needed to put it into words, so that the rest of the novel was infused with the thoughts and feelings I wrote about. Here it is.
Abigail's fingers bumped gently across the globe. The surface was irregular, as if it truly was a miniature world - Everest shrunk to the height of a fingernail, the waves of the oceans smoothed to an infinitesimal roughness. Its high gloss finish glared where the light from the floor lamp struck it.
I’m so glad I had a chance to share this scene with you! Now I invite you to move on to J.J. Devine and see what darlings she’s had to “kill”.
8/18/2015 08:23:20 am
I liked your first beginning, thank you for sharing
8/18/2015 02:27:35 pm
You know the cool thing, Sarah? As I prepped this post, I realized it wasn't this scene that made the story start slow - it was all the scenes BETWEEN this one and when she meets her hero. I'm thinking of sneaking it back in, and then skipping right to what is now my opening scene. Because I have to admit - I really love the feel of this scene.
8/18/2015 08:25:17 am
Ahh, Abigail. I enjoyed reading her journey. Very atmospheric opening!
8/18/2015 02:28:47 pm
8/18/2015 09:12:26 am
My stories ALWAYS begin so slowly. That's the biggest criticism I receive. Thankfully, I've gotten good advice along the way on how to improve my writing. I enjoyed this post thoroughly.
8/18/2015 02:29:26 pm
At least we know where we err, Tessa! That should make it easier to fix! :)
8/18/2015 02:47:10 pm
Wow- a very cool image. I understand why you love it. Thanks for sharing.
8/18/2015 10:56:29 pm
What beautiful words. I'm coming around to the idea that nothing we write is a waste, even if we end up cutting it. The things we cut can bring us closer to our characters and that has to be a good thing!
8/21/2015 06:32:02 am
Ooooh! I liked this! So sad it's a dead darling. Perhaps you've reused it? I hope so.
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