So here’s the weird part about being a writer, well one of the weird parts. I’m never done. I buttoned up the revisions on the first chapter of the Women of Willow Bay book 3 last night, but when I reread it this morning I found I had issues with POV–point of view—whose head we’re in during a particular scene. My editor, Lani Diane Rich, will tell you that it happens mostly when I get caught up in dialogue. I’m telling the story, creating the conversations between my characters, and I lose track of the fact that the hero doesn’t think of his own shoulders as brawny and the heroine doesn’t realize her own skin is touchable.
POV was a new concept to me when I came back to writing fiction a few years ago, in spite of the fact that I’ve been writing for years. It never occurred to me that I needed to stay in the head of the person who was guiding the scene. Another term I learned was “head-hopping,” which means going from one character’s thoughts to another’s in the same scene. Not a good thing unless you’re already an established author and have published numerous titles. Then you can probably get away with it because we already love you and we’ll read anything at all you write, even if you break the rules.
In spite of the rules, every writer has a personal style—their own special voice. I’m not sure how to define my writing style, except to say that I’m a story teller and I can get very sappy, which in the romance world is not particularly a bad thing. I write with a lot of emotion, but I have a hard time writing anger, I think because I have a hard time being angry. I’m not good at it. My stories are character-driven, so the characters move the plot along and not the other way around.
I have the added issue of being not only a writer, but also an editor—that’s how I make my living. And I edit nonfiction—a lot of college textbooks, so the language is completely different from the language I use to write my novels. However the editor kicks in occasionally. Let me give you an example: the use of “bad” versus “badly,” as in “He wanted her so badly, it hurt.”
Now, when I was critiquing a chapter for one of my crit partners, editor Nan fixed this to read, “He wanted her so bad it hurt.” Here’s why. “Badly” is an adverb that describes the action, so the sentence as is tells me (editor Nan) that the guy is doing a poor job of wanting her. “Bad,” on the other hand is an adjective that describes the level of his feelings–he wants her a lot. So, logically, well, grammatically, editor Nan is correct.
But, that’s not how we talk. Most people would say “badly.” “I feel badly for him.” or “She wanted him so badly…” You get the picture. If you read the words aloud—something I’m learning to do as I write—“badly” just flows better. Maybe not to my editorial ear, but to most reader’s ears, it does.
Writing is learning. If I stop learning, my writing stops improving. So, I’m growing a tough hide as I pursue this career and listening to my editor, who knows way more than me about writing fiction. Style and author voice aside, I always want to be the best writer I can be or what’s the point? What’s your writing style? Can you define your author voice?
Nan Reinhardt is a writer of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last 17 years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.
But writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!) and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! She’s still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.
Her first novel Rule Number One is available at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. The other two, Once More From the Top and Sex and the Widow Miles — the first novels in the Women of Willow Bay series, are available exclusively at Amazon.
Visit Nan’s website: www.nanreinhardt.com
Talk to Nan at: firstname.lastname@example.org