Archive for November, 2009

Romance Lives

Monday, November 16th, 2009

sunReaders have always used literature to escape the grim reality of their lives, and escapism continues to influence publishing during these slow economic times. In true escapist fashion, romance literature thrives when the markets are at their worst. Romance editors report strong sales in their genre, and romance publishers continue to expand their various imprints.

All of this is good news for writers of romance. The market for their books is strong, and writers have plenty of places to sell their work. Of course, no matter how strong the romance market is or how badly acquisitions editors want new manuscripts, hopeful writers still need to submit their strongest and most polished work. At Beaumont Hardy, I help romance writers streamline their plots and perfect their submissions.

The following is an unedited portion of a romance novel. Immediately after it is the same passage, after editing. After both is the same passage with my editing comments.

“You’re holding it the wrong way!” a voice bellowed from somewhere behind Sloane, and she dropped the ice ax with a clatter to the floor. Sloane whirled around to spot a very tall man looming in the shadows of the storehouse. “You can get hurt like that,” he said softly, then stiffening again as though he had made himself angry.

The tension of the day suddenly settled heavily on Sloane, and she spun around angrily to face the man fully. “That’s why I’m here, Mr Vaughn–I assume it’s Mr. Vaughn, world-class ice-climbing champ?” She interrupted herself, glaring at the man who had stepped into the light and who looked even taller when he walked into the light again. “You did get my message, didn’t you?” She shot the man her most piercing stare.

The man nodded uncertainly. “You’re the reporter, I thought? You’re doing the Everest thing?” His eyes were a startling blue that reminded Sloane of the sky above the Himalayas.

“It’s not a thing. It’s an article,” Sloane spat reproachfully.

“And I’m leading your group of reporters up the mountain,” the man said, sneering as he said the word “reporters.”

“Yes, and for the duration of the trip, you report to me,” Sloane added. “I’m in charge. None of that renegade stuff you’re famous for. We’re all getting back from this trip alive.” She looked at the man triumphantly.

“You can be in charge,” the man said, smiling and folding his arms infuriatingly. “As soon as you learn how to use an ice ax.”

After editing, the passage reads as follows.

“You’re holding it the wrong way!”¬†someone bellowed from behind Sloane. She dropped the ice ax, and it clattered to the floor. Sloane whirled around and saw a very tall man looming in the shadows of the storehouse. “You can get hurt like that,” he said softly. After he spoke, he seemed to stiffen again, as though speaking had made him angry.

The tension of the day suddenly settled on Sloane, and she stared the man straight in the face. “That’s why I’m here, Mr Vaughn–I assume it’s Mr. Vaughn, world-class ice-climbing champ?” She interrupted herself, glaring at the man, who looked even taller, now that he had stepped into the light. “You did get my message, didn’t you?” She shot the man her most piercing stare.

The man nodded uncertainly. “You’re the reporter, right?” His eyes were a startling blue that reminded Sloane of the sky above the Himalayas. “You’re doing the Everest thing?”

“It’s not a thing. It’s an article,” Sloane spat reproachfully.

“And I’m leading your group of reporters up the mountain,” Vaughn said, sneering as he said the word “reporters.”

“Yes, and for the duration of the trip, you report to me,” Sloane added. “I’m in charge. None of that renegade stuff you’re famous for. We’re all getting back from this trip alive.” She looked at Vaughn triumphantly.

“You can be in charge,” Vaughn said, smiling and folding his arms infuriatingly. “As soon as you learn how to use an ice ax.”

The following is the same passage with my editing marks. My additions are underlined. My comments are in brackets and italicized.

“You’re holding it the wrong way!” a voice someone [A person, and not a voice, bellows.] bellowed from somewhere behind Sloane,. and sShe dropped the ice ax, and it with a clattered to the floor. [“To the floor” is misplaced in the original sentence.] Sloane whirled around to spot and saw [Although “to spot” is correct, I think that “whirled around” is so descriptive that “saw” is a quiet complement to it. The “to” in “to spot” also suggests that Sloane purposely whirled around in order to spot the man, an idea I don’t think you mean.] a very tall man looming in the shadows of the storehouse. “You can get hurt like that,” he said softly,. After he spoke, he seemed to then stiffening again, as though he had made himself speaking had made him angry. [In the original sentence, “then stiffening again” is somewhat awkward. I moved that idea into a separate sentence to highlight it for the reader and to clarify some of the syntax.]

The tension of the day suddenly settled heavily [One adverb is sufficient.] on Sloane, and she spun around angrily to face the man fully stared the man straight in the face. [Sloane already whirled around in the previous paragraph.] “That’s why I’m here, Mr Vaughn–I assume it’s Mr. Vaughn, world-class ice-climbing champ?” She interrupted herself, glaring at the man, who looked even taller, now that he had stepped into the light and who looked even taller when he walked into the light again. “You did get my message, didn’t you?” She shot the man her most piercing stare.

The man nodded uncertainly. “You’re the reporter, I thought right? [The “I thought” construction feels less like actual speech than does the word “right.”] His eyes were a startling blue that reminded Sloane of the sky above the Himalayas. You’re doing the Everest thing?” His eyes were a startling blue that reminded Sloane of the sky above the Himalayas. [Ending his section with “Everest thing” leads more clearly to Sloane’s next comment.]

“It’s not a thing. It’s an article,” Sloane spat reproachfully.

“And I’m leading your group of reporters up the mountain,” the man Vaughn [I think using Vaughn’s name works better here, now that Sloane has introduced it to the reader.] said, sneering as he said the word “reporters.” [I like the sneering part.]

“Yes, and for the duration of the trip, you report to me,” Sloane added. “I’m in charge. None of that renegade stuff you’re famous for. We’re all getting back from this trip alive.” She looked at Vaughn triumphantly. [Is “triumphantly” the right word here?]

“You can be in charge,” the man Vaughn said, smiling and folding his arms infuriatingly. “As soon as you learn how to use an ice ax.” [This is a good ending to this interaction.]

Thanks for reading! Please send me your comments. I would love to hear from you.