27 July 2011

Taking My Time.......

A Few 'Adjustments' Make Happy Readers...........And A Satisfied Writer....

The first feedback on my novel is coming in, and all in all, it's encouraging.  I had been worried that the beginning of my story moved along slowly when compared to the rest of the novel, and it seems that my perceptions proved true, at least in part.  My critique partner thinks I can tighten up the first fifty pages to move the romance along, and I agree.  My first beta reader thinks the story moves along fine, but after I shared my concerns, she capitulated, agreeing that I could edit some description.  But she does not want any of the MMA scenes shortened at all, as she feels they add 'substance' to the storyline that should not be sacrificed.  Her thoughts focused on an entirely different matter - my heroine, Grace's speech.  I hadn't noticed until it was pointed out  to me, but I have her speaking quite formally.  Within the storyline, it doesn't work as well as it should.  So, I will be substituting contractions where I can, and adding a more casual feel to the dialogue between Grace and those close to her. 

Therein, I realized, is my problem.  I think formally, and it translates into the written word.  I'm not much for slang, or shorthand speaking.  I tend to communicate in a clear, proper way.  I've got to relax that in my writing when the character/setting/circumstance calls for it.  Maybe that is why I tend to be drawn to novels set in long ago times.  I like the way they speak.  It's not a problem in my novella....it's set in 1640!  But Claiming The Prize is set in the present, and therefore, I've got to add present day speaking habits. 
Thank goodness there's an easy fix.  But I'll have to keep that in mind when I write. 

I have to admit, I like that my characters take their time before diving head first into a romance.  It's hard to accept when I read stories where boy meets girl/ - boy flashes his smile/girl gets hard nipples - boy shows girl his mighty love staff/girl hands over virginity and achieves orgasm on first try - boy and girl live happily ever after once boy saves girl's life/girl returns after running away/boy experiences the magic "hoo-hoo" (A term borrowed from the 'Smart Bitches')/boy overcomes girl's previous sexual hang ups in less time than it takes me to shower.......Oy Vey!  Double Oy Vey!

But writing, in addition to making me happy, is done (at least from my perspective) to make readers happy.  And romance readers want....well, romance.  I can't say as I blame them.  So, it's editing time.  Wish me luck.  I've determined to cut what I think can go without sacrificing story, for writing is all about creating a good story.  Sure, I've written a romance.  But I've written a story with a romance in it....not a romance that happens to have a dash of story thrown in on the side. Sharpening....that's what I'm going to term it. 

I received the cover proof for Her Dark Baron over the weekend, and after some 'tweaking', it's finished.  Wow!  I am quite happy with this cover.......

Elaina Lee has done it again!  And as for my Baron......who says Dark Baron better than Jimmy Thomas?  I'm sure I don't know.  By the way......congratulations to Jimmy, who hit 1500 covers! 

Chapter five is complete in Her Dark Baron, and I've written a few pages in chapter six.  This is fantastic, as I have about five or six chapters remaining.  I should have the novel completed in time for my October publishing goal.  That makes me smile.  This novella (I know I've said it a thousand times...but what's one more?) is just so great to write.  (And thanks...for letting me say it again.....really)  I don't know if it's because my hero, Gervase Daltrey, is dark and dangerous - and I am finding that 'bad-guys' are easier to write - or if it's because of the time period the story is set in, but this story just flows out much easier than my first novel ever did.  (Except for fight scenes, sex scenes, and my bad boy, Carson....see what I mean about those bad-boy/bad-ass characters....they speak to me...ha!)  Anyway, I'm glad to be on track with my goals.

Do you have an easier time writing one type of character over others?  What character 'speaks' to you best?

Checking in with other ROW80 participants will be on my agenda today, and I'm sure to find any number of topics that encourage, inform, or just plain make me laugh.  Last check in, Matt Hofferth posted on a problem he encountered with uploading/format issues between differing e-reader publishing results.  Curious, I asked him to explain, and he graciously did so.  Below, I've added his comment.  If it helps anyone...it's worth it.

 Matt Hofferth on ......The Frustrations And Fun To Be Had In Self-Publishing 101/Part 1 (of ohhh....I don't know...maybe 1345654456645455 fantastic/fearsome/filth-&-fouled up possibilities)
Take it away, Matt...........

Um, long info dump as requested from the comment over at my site. Feel free to copy/paste/repost this as you see fit and let me know if you have any question. This is related to the issue I encountered with Nook pagination and how it relates to a TOC:

I didn't do a manual TOC... So long as you make use of headings in your conversion, the formats do it for you. Thus, the TOC issue was separate from the pagination. The chapter headings weren't all showing up, so we just had to clean up the hierarchy formatting in the source file. There was no pagination attached to them, since you just tell your ereader to "jump to." That all works just fine now.

If you're going the ebook route, I would suggest not doing a TOC and just letting the ereader do it for you. If you use a POD service for print books, you can constrain the pagination in your source file so that you could pop in a TOC in that version if you wanted. The pages in the PDF source reflect what will actually be printed, unlike an ebook where pagination is malleable according to the reader/settings.

The smaller-but-no-less-annoying issue is that the page numbers that a Nook displays just don't relate to actual clicks. I was displaying a lot of text on screen in my novel (We chose to go with pretty narrow side margins to try to maximize screen usage, figuring folks might like fewer clicks per word, but it's a minor thing). The end result is that we sometimes get where a "background page cut" happens twice on one "click page." So the Nook goes from like 7 to 9. On a Kindle it's not an issue because it's percent and "locations."

As of now, I know of no fix for the Nook issue as changing font settings on the user end means that what's displayed on screen per click can vary widely. It becomes a bit of an issue in non-fiction since how do you cite an excerpt for reference? In fiction, it shouldn't be an issue unless you're doing like a chose-your-own adventure book or something (Remember those? I loved them!)

~ Nadja


  1. I can relate to the speech/dialogue issues. I'm writing a medieval fantasy, and sometimes it's a struggle to walk the line between not sounding too modern and not sounding too archaic and formal. Plus some of my dialogue sounds like it came out of a bad 80s occult movie haha

  2. Nothing wrong with taking your time. That's one of the joys of indie publishing--you're in the driver's seat. :)

  3. Ohh, movies like they watch in Mystery Science Theatre? Too funny. But yes, Rebecca, dialogue, at least for me, is going to be an issue I have to keep my eye on.
    Gabrielle - thanks!

  4. I've been fighting a lot of dialogue issues myself. Usually, my dialogue will start leaning toward the style of whatever book I'm reading at the time, which doesn't always translate into the style of book(s) I'm writing all the time. As you mentioned, though, dialogue can be a fairly easy fix, which is nice. :)

    You seem to have a lot of good work going on, so congrats and keep it up. I love the cover!

  5. I think we all can relate to the dialogue issue, after all, who else do we speak like then ourselves. Nancy Kress has an interesting suggestion to help with this in Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint. She suggests a blended thinking process where we think as a crafter in one sense, as the character in another and as the reader in the third. Worth the read if you have the time.

  6. Great post Nadja. That's a gorgeous cover!!
    I agree with you on preferring a formal voice; I think that's why I gravitate towards historicals as well. Doubt I could write a modern slang-y dialogue at all!

  7. I never realized what a hot issue dialogue was! And Gene, thank you for posting the article. I'll have to check it out.
    L.S. and Deniz......Thanks for the cover love!! I'm really quite pleased with it!
    And I definately agree, Deniz, I could never write slang-y dialogue! It just sounds so....awful to my ears. ~ Nadja

  8. I love the cover!

    As far as dialogue, I haven't had a problem with my MC's voice but I do have a problem with everyone else lol. If I try to write slang-y I feel like I overdo it and it just looks awful so I end up having to go in and cut half of the sentences.

    Good luck with your work!

  9. Gorgeous cover and congrats on all that you've accomplished :)


  10. Oh, that cover is absolutely beautiful!

    I've also noticed that I tend towards formal dialogue, particularly when I write period pieces and fantasy. I'm in the midst of George R.R. Martin's 5th book in his Song of Ice and Fire series, however, and one thing that he does well is utilize a lot of slang and differences in dialogue based on the personalities and class origins of his characters. This is something I'm going to attempt to do, because I am worried that things might sound stilted and unrealistic.

    I'm having fun with this steampunk tale if only because people sound like they stepped out of a Wild West film -- lots of 'darlin' and 'ma'am', along with a bit of tame swearing, which is hilarious to write. The wealthy characters will be much more restrained in their expression, so the contrast should prove interesting.

    Enjoy the rest of the week!

  11. In my next novel, I've got to choose a style of speaking as it's a world of my creating. This is a new realization, and now that I'm getting such great feedback, it may turn out to be an adventure. ......darlin'. Ha! ~ Nadja

  12. Thanks for the link, glad I could help.

    I like what you said about writing a "story with romance in it." Great way to put it.

    There was a quotation I heard/read somewhere (can't remember where): "Dialog should be just like real speech... only not at all." :-)

    Older times (and fantasy) have a tendency toward formal speech (and I must admit a fondness for "thinking" formally as well), but Jamila makes a good point. Even in those settings, there are ways to add localized slag/informality... even if it's your own made-up informality. (Martin's novels are a great example of this, and something I try to mirror in my own writing.)

    Keep up the good work, sounds like your'e on a good pace with your novel.

  13. That's a great quote, Matt...
    And you're right, Jamila makes a good point. One side character in Claiming The Prize, St. Clair Davis, proved easy and fun to write. He doesn't come across as formal at all. After Jamila's comment, I believe it may be because he contrasted nicely with my more formal characters. Something to keep in mind. ~ Nadja

  14. Love the cover! I tend to throw in slang here and there that personalizes the character a bit. Gives you a taste of where they are from. Then I have a character that is so uptight, she only speaks formally. I'd love to do southern accent but after reading some books with characters with too much emphasis on the accent, it's too difficult to read. Sounds like you are doing a great job.

  15. I've definitely found dialogue tricky. I think my first urge is to be more formal. I don't use a ton of slang myself. I've been pushing myself to make my dialogue sound more natural though. Clipped sentences or sentences that just trail off. My MIP is fantasy set in a preindustrial world (surprise surprise, right? :D) and I made the speech a little more formal by using no contractions. That being said, I'm still trying to keep it sounding natural by using some of the same techniques I was talking about before. Sentence frags, unfinished thoughts, etc... Except when the circumstances dictate more formal language.

    Congrats on all your progress!