Over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, my writing blog home away from home, I read a fantastic post the other day. It was all about what editors want from a category romance.
After reading it, I wonder if Brad and Erin’s story is as ready as I thought. I break nearly all of the guidelines:
- Stir internal conflict on EVERY page.
- Minimize secondary characters.
- Let your main characters be active.
- Get them together.
- Keep them together.
- Give them reasons to love each other.
Hmm. I already know the story is a little thin on conflict. For the first several chapters, the main one is Erin thinks she wants Mike to notice her but she’s starting to like Brad, too.
My secondary characters, including Mike, all play what may be too large a role. Not surprising, considering they each have their own story. Brad and Erin’s is the first in a series.
Are they active? I don’t even know how to start thinking about that. That means the answer is probably a big, fat “NO.”
As for getting them together, Brad and Erin don’t have a scene together until page 12 — and that’s after Erin has her first scene with Mike. And keeping them together? Well, they go out on several dates (including an ill-fated trip to Chicago for a concert), but there are plenty of scenes in between with one or the other talking to someone else.
Do I give them reasons to love one another? Well, they’re both good people, and fine upstanding citizens of these United States. And it goes without saying that they’re beautiful (most heroes and heroines are, after all). He likes her sense of humor and honesty; she’s attracted to his body and soul.
Hmm. That may also be a little on the thin side. I’m beginning to wonder if this book will ever sell without yet another overhaul … Ugh. That’s a horrible thought, not least of all because I’m way too invested in these characters. Of all my characters, Erin is most like me (education reporter with no luck in love — all me when I wrote the thing).
On the plus side, I thought of a way to make Meg & Matt’s story, “Beauty and the Ballplayer” more closely adhere to the guidelines I just discovered. I’m going to lop off the first several pages (which I’ve decided are all backstory, despite the fact that I love the first line:
Meg looked at the pregnancy test stick in her hand, hoping like hell she misinterpreted it.
The rest of the first few pages have her thinking about how, at 32, she’s too old to be pregnant and alone, and about how her ex ran off to Vegas to become a professional poker player.
I think I’ll start with her and Matt meeting at the bar instead.
The editing is never quite done, is it? I would suggest having a few more people read it and ask these specific questions. Sometimes if you’re too close to the work, it can be hard to see clearly.
I think I need to find myself a critique group!