When I first started writing Scandal, I had no intention of publishing it. The story was merely my response to the innumerable tropes and themes that cropped up in one of my favorite genres; Historical Romance.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I read HR specifically for said tropes and themes, especially when I’m feeling a bit blue. I can pick one up knowing that the fun bit of fluff it provides will serve as an excellent mood elevator. But there’s a reason that I can rarely stomach reading more than two in a row.
Repetition is the bane of this reader’s existence.
I began to write an unconventional HR as a way to combat my increasing boredom with the genre, and when I mentioned it to a few of my friends, they quickly jumped on board, sharing my frustrations with the formulaic plotlines and interchangeable casts of characters. One chapter turned into two, two turned into ten, and by the time I had fifteen written, bolstered by the encouragements of my original beta-readers, I started posting them to my website for public consumption.
As I dive into the editing process, a lot of the feedback I received will be incorporated. Though I try to keep from liking and commenting in reader spaces, I do pay attention to what people are posting. And I learn from it. As an example, one reader pointed out that there was some telling rather than showing when it came to Kit’s (the main character’s) imagination. I couldn’t agree more, especially in the early chapters, where I was so hell-bent on getting the story out of my head that my characterization fell to the wayside.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why there is such a thing as self-edits. This process is crucial. Not only does it afford the writer a chance to save on editing costs by catching typos, but it also allows us the opportunity to work on our characterization, fix awkward dialogue, shorten our beats, expound upon descriptive elements, add depth to our plot, and substitute scenes in place of narrative.
It allows a writer the opportunity to turn telling into showing.
“I closed my eyes while she worked, shutting out the familiar scene in front of me so that my thoughts were free to wander back to the novel I’d been forced to set aside when she’d arrived at my door. It was filled with pirates and castaways, treasure chests and daring escapades.”
” I let my lids fall shut while she worked, thinking of the novel I’d been reading before she’d arrived at my door. My imagination gave me wings, and I spread them wide and flew from my room into the pages of the book.
The buzzing of insects began to fill my ears; exotic birdsong echoed from overhead; somewhere in the distance the rhythmic pounding of heathen drums rose to a crescendo. The air that licked my skin became cloying, heavy with humidity and the scents of a verdant forest. I drank it down in lungfuls, filling my nose with a heady bouquet of jungle flowers and rich, dark earth. When next I opened my eyes, it was to see a band of pirates stalking a troupe of unsuspecting castaways through the dense undergrowth that spread out before me. Fur flashed in my periphery, and I lifted my gaze to watch a family of monkeys leaping through the vine-choked canopy.”
To everyone who followed along while I posted chapters: THANK YOU.
To everyone who gave me feedback: NO REALLY, THANK YOU.
Scandal will be a better book because of you.