It’s Not You, It’s Me

I’m facing what I think (hope) will be the hardest round of edits for my first book.  The problem, as it stands now, is I need to infuse the book with the heroine’s personality more to make it come alive.  After reading it, I want someone to be able to say, “Carly would find that so funny!” or “Carly would hate that!”.  Right now I don’t think that’s true.  But to change it means I have to do something deeply foreign to my WASPy soul:

I have to unbutton enough emotionally as a writer to give the reader the same insight into and connection with Carly that I have.

As an example of how Herculean a task this might be, I offer this little fact: I don’t like literary greats like Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon because I think the emotions of their characters are too… out in the open.  Before you act all shocked and tell me how good books like Love in the Time of Cholera are, let me point out: I know.  I know they have great literary merit.  I just don’t like reading them.  All that explicit emotion makes me uncomfortable.  Which I freely admit is probably a bit of a character flaw on my part.

But it doesn’t help me get around the fact that I now have to revise my book so that readers feel like they know Carly.  And to do that I’m going to have to invite them (however subtly or indirectly or reluctantly), into both Carly’s and my own sanctum sanctorum.   

Of course, I could just write a tedious book in which you don’t get to know the main character.  But for some reason my editor is against that.  Weirdo.

This entry was posted in books, editing, emotions, K, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. EFR says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. EFR says:

    Okay, well, first of all, you have just pointed out three Latin American authors!! I think that Latin American literature by nature is just going to have more emotion and more character development than British or American. Maybe you could try to channel some other British or American authors who are not so emotionally out in the open but still can develop a character fully in a very nuanced way. The obvious: Jane Austen's character Katherine in Northanger Abbey is such a rich character, and her development is essential to the novel, without taking anything away from or dominating the actual story. Do you read Steinbeck? He's great at this too, but way more subtle. Good luck!!!

  3. K says:

    I admit it: I usually abandon Steinbeck 40 pages in because I get depressed. But excellent point about Northanger–thanks for the suggestion!

  4. dd says:

    But maybe you just don’t like reading those books because you don’t like the characters? And don’t like the type and amount of emotions they experience.At least that’s how I feel, it seems like their emotions is all they ever think about. Since you are not trying to describe that type of character, you don’t have to do that. Maybe?

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