Monday, November 12, 2007

Writing My Novel: Resisting the Delete Key

So I decided to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge this month. I cheated, of course; I started with a novel I was already thirty pages into. But "winning" by their rules doesn't really matter to me; I just want to write this thing. I chose an idea I've been chewing on for several years: a paranormal romance in traditional Regency England. So far, my cute little debutante has had her parents killed in a freak supernatural attack of some sort, been propositioned and locked in a tower by an evil cousin who's been hitting the opium too hard, and nearly fallen off several roofs. I swear, whenever I need something interesting to happen in a scene I put the heroine on a roof and watch her nearly fall off. She must hate me.

My hero, fifty pages in, has remained a man of mystery so far. He's made a few cameo appearances, but he's yet to be formally introduced to my roof-dangling heroine. I'm always a little apprehensive about writing heroes. Why? I think it's because I really fell for the heroes in my favorite romances--paranormals included. I fell hard for a certain, specific and very subtle mix of arrogance and vulnerability that I have an innate fear of not being able to capture myself. I hold my heroes to near-impossible standards. Every word he says must be spine-tingling. Every glance must be smoldering. Every touch must be...well, you get the idea. I think I've got to break down this idea of perfection and write like he's just an average guy/vampire/werewolf/whatever. Then maybe things will get rolling.

I came very close to hitting the delete key today. My unfortunate heroine had escaped from a house fire of possibly-supernatural origins and wound up (where else?) on the roof. Then she wound up in the clutches of an unsavory distant relative who wants to marry her so he can inherit her property. I'm planning to have her escape and unwittingly crash a party of very rich and good-looking regency people, including my hero. And that's how they meet. The whole evil cousin thing is just a plot device to get her closer to meeting the hero. But I was toying with the idea of having her meet him much more directly--maybe she falls off the roof and lands on him--and cutting out the evil cousin altogether. I'd be deleting about ten pages, and starting with Chapter 3 all over again. Several times I highlighted the offending scenes and deleted them. Then hit "Ctrl-Z" and put them back. That's how it went, for about five minutes: delete, put back. Delete, put back. Delete, put back.

I finally decided to keep the evil cousin for now. He might wind up being important later, but that's not the point. The point is that the delete key is the call of the Siren, and I must resist. Or I will be dragged down to the bottom of the ocean by some chick with seaweed for hair, and never have access to a computer ever again. And I just can't write anything longhand.

So: that's how it's going for me. Resisting the call of the delete key, one cheeseball paragraph at a time. For those of you who might be tempted to respond with the advice of listening to my delete key so the world is spared another awful novel, don't bother. I tell myself that every day, and I don't listen. What makes you think I'd listen to you?

No comments: