Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's May Day...& things on my mind

So it's May 1st already and time for an Insecure Writers' post. Follow this link to a list of other authors who face those moments of insecurity.
http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Where has April gone? I know. It went to edits, family stuff, and the month-long A to Z Challenge. If you'd like to read my posts from A to Z, go to my main blog.
 

I have a wonderful editor. She's a history buff with a professional background to match. As any author knows, edits can be a taxing undertaking. I'm a linear writer. Once I've ended the story, I'm done pouring my emotions into it. My mind has moved out of it with the last page written. Editing puts me back in. I liken it to moving away from your childhood home only to return many years later to find while it may look sort of the same, the feel of the place is different. 

In my unusual love story, I wanted to convey how love has no boundaries. The heart doesn't really have control over who it has you fall in love with, like, dislike or loath. So, my Victorian era tale has love across several social boundaries. Through a series of events that occurred when he was a small child, my hero has a mother/son-type relationship with his grandmother's housekeeper. The thing is, my hero is a man born to privilege and class divides being what they are, this relationship would be extremely unique.

I'm not a huge fiction reader. Funny, I write fiction. Given a choice between a novel and an encyclopedia, I'd chose the encyclopedia every time. That being said, I didn't have literary examples to draw from when writing my novel. I'm not a huge TV watcher either, but I have seen many time period portrayals in movies and TV...shows like Upstairs Downstairs and the extremely popular Downton Abbey (why did they kill off Mathew??). In the latter, you see friendly exchanges between the servants and the employers, but the closest relationship (in comparison to my story) is the one between the head butler and the first-born daughter. You can tell by the way he defends her and the tender glances he sends her way that in his heart, she's the child he never had. In hers, he's the head butler she trusts to look after things and she's fond of him.

Many years ago my family did living history portrayals. At events you'd occasionally come upon men dressed incongruously like a cross between a Scottish Highlander and Mohawk. When you stopped to chat about their character portrayal, you'd learned invariably that here was a young Scotsman driven from his country and adopted into some tribe. If that scenario happened once in history, ok. But hundreds of times? Utterly ridiculous. I think it far more likely that a lonely widow who just happened to be a housekeeper for a high-society family would take on a mothering role for an orphan, even if that child were from said high-society. To me, I can easily see a genuine love relationship here.

My editor seems to think the housekeeper/Lord relationship is a stretch, and respecting her opinion like I do, my natural inclination for second-guessing has kicked into high gear. *sigh* Second guessing is the proverbial "cement overshoes" (gangster reference for encasing an enemy's feet in cement and tossing the guy in the river.)  (I grew up in Chicago.)  ;)  I was going for unique, but is my American romanticizing of Victorian London society getting in the way? Is it my own version of the young Scotsman driven from his country and adopted into some tribe? 

I've since worked it out in my book. I've cut out/toned down a few chummy parts and inserted a bit more conventional propriety here and there. I think my editor's concerns made me make a better story here. They've forced me to defend my idea and through that I was able to unemotionally see where the flaws were and fix them. I know I enjoy realism when I read.

So the questions are...how far can we stretch the boundaries of the norm before it gets silly? Does it matter in romantic fiction? Am I over-thinking this?

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6 comments:

  1. Hi, visiting from the IWSG. I completely agree with you that editing is indeed very taxing. From your post, it looks like you have a professional editor, that's something I too would like to do before I start querying my next MS.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rachna, thanks for stopping. Yes, I hire a professional for my self-published works. I've been edited through my publisher as well. We get so close to our stories that a fresh pair of eyes is a very good thing. Best luck!

      Rose

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  2. Over thinking! There are all sorts of relationships in this world that might have gone against society. Listen to your editor, but listen to your heart too. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL Yeah I do tend to do that. Thanks Jane. :)

      Rose

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  3. That's a tough question, and I don't know the answer. Because I write suspense, but love Jane Austen, I'm always on the lookout for embarrassing scenes that might otherwise make me gag. If there's even a hint that I may, I take a colder look at it, make my protagonist seem as if he doesn't care, while on the inside he's falling apart. It generally works. Generally. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's much easier to take that colder look after you've walked away. I find reading it aloud flips a switch in my head and the gaffs become visible. Thanks for stopping Joylene.

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