Thursday, 4 June 2009

Needs More Drama.....

I'm not someone who takes much notice of Horoscopes, but today's caught my eye:

It's important now to build upon the structures you have already created. Lean on the foundations already built, without trying to start something new. If you become distracted with nearby shiny trinkets -- real or imagined -- remind yourself they won't shine light on your path of self-discovery.

Chillingly appropriate somehow as my agent forwarded this:

I really enjoyed the chapters you sent, which I found intriguing, well-written and atmospheric and which reminded me a little of THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON. Sadly, however, I didn't feel the plot had enough surprises to keep me hooked and because this is such a tough area of the market to get right...........

They, my rejections that is, appear to be getting better, so maybe one will turn into an acceptance at some stage?
Anyway, I pooled a couple of published authors, whose opinion I trust and it seems they agree with the assessment that 'there aren't enough surprises' in my stories.

I asked for specifics and this is what they said:
Injuring a five year old isn't tragic enough - kill him off
When your hero discovers something about his rival - don't threaten dire consequences, have the hero left for dead in a ditch after a sword/gunfight.

Increase the internal conflict - don't simply have the heroine wring her hands over a belief the hero isn't interested in her - have her accuse him of something he hasn't done, determined never to speak to him again and rush off to accept the villain's proposal of marriage.

Readers want to be brought to the edge of disaster and dragged back at the very last second.
[Hmm . . it appears my villain trying to drown my heroine wasn't enough.]

These roller-coaster stories are the types of books I enjoy too - but I feel this can be overdone to the point of non-credibility.

As a reader, once I reach the third, tied-to-the-railway-line scenario, I tend to throw the book in a corner, because 'Surely no one is that unaware'. And if she is, she's too dim to deserve the hero and would probably be content to end up with the villain anyway and spend the rest of her life in denial.

It seems I have a plot or two to re-work. Or maybe I need to start another....


Jen Black said...

Sympathies, Anita. I'm at the same sort of crossroads. The things you describe are what I think US audiences want but lately I've come to realise that English agents and publishers don't necessarily want the same thing. Some actively dislike it. So maybe we have to jump for one side of the pond or the other.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I agree, Anita, that you have to portion out your tragedies. Too many, too often and it becomes melodramatic or sensory overload. I'm reworking a story where I had two battle scenes in two successive chapters - overkill. So I cut one out, but now the pace is too blah. Not enough drama or surprises and the reader doesn't become engaged. What IS the right balance, though? Hmm...

Lisa Logan said...

My sympathy! Kill off the kid? Whoa.

One of the things I like about indie epress is they're a lot more willing to take a chance on an author's vision. I'm not a huge fan of writing to "spec."Honestly, some presses want so many changes it's like I'm just the ghost writer!

Good luck with the rewrites!


Glynis said...

It is funny as I thought they would not want a book overloaded with tragedy. My humble mind thought they would want a good book written around one maybe two. That is why I am a novice, obviously.
Well I wish you luck and do not envy you.