Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lesson Learned

What happens when you force your story to be something it isn't? What happens when you force yourself to write a genre you're not confident in? You spend three weeks trying to figure out how to edit your book, that's what.

My first, first draft of Colonel Fitzwilliam was primarily a spy novel, with romance thrown in. Halfway through November, I realized I wanted to write more romance, so I split it 50/50. Part of the struggle in editing has been to find where I made that change and how to create one unified book out of all the bits and bobs I've got written. The other struggle is that... well, honestly, I hate the spy parts.

The first assignment on my outline is to write a one-sentence summary of the story. That sentence then serves as a mission statement for the book. Any time you wonder if a scene belongs,  you can measure it up to the summary--does it support the mission of the book? If not, chuck it. I puzzled over the summary for about five minutes, wondering how on earth I could fit both the spy story and the romance into twenty five words or less.

That's when I realized I was going about this from the wrong angle. If I'm not that great at writing spy scenes, and I wanted to write more of the relationship between Georgiana and Richard, then maybe... maybe it didn't have to be a spy novel. Maybe it could be historical romance instead.

I still need to get Richard's spy mission figured out, at least in broad strokes, so I can allude to it throughout the book. However, this is not Lord of the Rings and I am not J. R. R. Tolkien. It's okay if I don't know the last thousand years of Fitzwilliam family history before I begin writing. Historical fiction requires a depth of understanding of the period, not of the characters' back stories. (If that analogy makes no sense to you, well, now you know what goes on in my head.)

I'm still working on the rest of the outline, but it should be much easier now that I know what genre I'm writing.