Guest post by: Kate Belle
Thanks so much Rebecca for hosting me on your lovely blog and a big HELLO to all your regular readers! x
When I first started writing seriously I dreamed of having my books published, of writing full time and days alone at my computer, drowning in beautiful, beautiful words. Eighteen months ago I thought writing full time was an unachievable dream, yet through hard work and good luck I’ve managed to achieve it this year.
It’s been a long wait to get here but, like most big aspirations – marriage, children, owning a home – working as a writer has had its down sides. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’d much rather be here than anywhere else. But there are things about writing I wasn’t prepared for. One of them is killing my darlings.
There are times when the muse strikes and a story gushes from brain to screen (or pen) like a snow melt waterfall. These inspired moments leave me lit up with an almost post coital afterglow. I kid myself I’m a genius, it’s only a matter of time before the literati discover me and come to pay homage in my foul, dark study.
Then reality bites. Hard.
I’ve just finished a major rewrite of my second novel. I’ve made no secret of the fact that this novel has been a tough one to write. I didn’t expect it to come rolling out pitch perfect on the first draft, but I also didn’t expect it to be an exercise in hammering out lumpy, awful prose that looked unfit for my dogs dinner.
After sending it to my editor, forewarning her of its unworthiness, she emailed me back some suggested improvements. To my horror, she wanted me to lose one of the three character’s view points. She told me my book would be better without the one part of the novel I thought was good, my favourite character and the voice I LOVED most.
At first it was like a punch in the guts. All I could see was how pretty the prose was, how elegant, how insightful, why would you delete it? Being a professional I quelled the urge to argue, gulped back my protests and tried to digest why and how.
This character’s words took up a largish chunk of the latter part of the book, maybe a good 20,000 words of an 85,000 word novel. I’d have to rewrite the important parts of her story into another character’s viewpoint. Yes, this would be a lot of work, but it wasn’t my biggest problem.
It was the prospect of cutting out all that glory. I just didn’t want to do it. I was ATTACHED to the voice, the words, the character in a way that wasn’t helping the book as a whole. I had to do some serious mental acrobatics to come to terms with chopping her out completely.
After much rumination and nail biting I came to understand this character gave too much away. The style of her voice was too laden and literary to fit with the story. And she wasn’t someone readers would easily warm to.
So, the surgery began. In hindsight it might have been easier to just cut all her stuff out of the draft and start again, like ripping off a band aid. But doing it that way was just too hard to face. Instead I took a razor blade and slowly, painstakingly sliced pieces of her out. I remoulded some of her words into another character’s voice or dumped them in a ‘save for another day’ file. My reluctance has meant I will have to do yet another rewrite because I know I’ve left a lines and paragraphs in there that really need to go. It just hurt too much to do it on the first round.
Now I’ve completed the amputation I can see it was worthwhile. The story is richer for it, the character in question is richer for it. I have a stronger plot, a more consistent narrative, and my darlings aren’t quite dead. They’re just locked up in the cage of another file somewhere waiting for their time in a story to come.
Have you ever had to get rid of something you loved only to realise it was the best thing to do?
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~~~ Rebecca’s Random Spotlight ~~~
[Rebecca here: I LOVED The Yearning by Kate Belle so much (5+ stars) and would like to spotlight her books here!]
It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.
Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.
Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.
Read an extract here.
NOTE: CURRENTLY PURCHASE ONLY FOR AUS/NZ READERS
Breaking the Rules
Grace is a beautiful woman in complete control of her world. A long time ago she chose a career over children and marriage, and has never regretted it. Then Ramon Mendez walks into her office. Ramon is about to commence his PhD, a work on erotic literature, and from the outset there is something about him that makes Grace’s blood run hot. Aware of the need to maintain her professional reputation, she rejects his advances, but he persists. And during their intimate supervision sessions, her defences start to crumble, for Ramon’s work is exposing desires within Grace she never knew existed.
Thirty-six-year-old Emma’s life looks as perfect as could be. She loves her solid, straight-laced husband Gary, who has given her three beautiful, if spoilt, children and a secure life. But something is missing. Gary hardly notices her anymore and she feels frumpy and invisible. Her friend, Lisa, talks her into joining a social boot camp class at the local gym. Emma immediately recognises their instructor as the gorgeous runner she sees each evening while walking her dog in the park. He introduces himself as Ramon Mendez. In spite of herself Emma is besotted.
Before long her mind is filled with guilty fantasies of him. One evening, when things at home have become too much to bear, she bumps into him alone in the park. An opportunity presents itself and no one need ever know. Ramon promises and delivers everything that’s missing from her marriage – passion, romance and excitement – but Emma must discover if they are the things she really wants.
About the author:
Kate is a woman of many passions who juggles her pens with the rest of her life. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.
Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.
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