Some months ago I published a few excerpts from the draft of my romance novel, Romance One, and asked for comments. Thanks again to all who commented here, by email, and on Facebook. I also submitted a portion of it for a writing class, and discussed it at a writers’ retreat. Now I am working on another round of revisions. The biggest change is that my hero, Darwin, is more, well, heroic.
When Darwin arrives at Marianna’s campground, he lies to her about why he’s there, and that causes problems between them when she learns his reason for visiting. He also keeps his engagement a secret, and executes a plan to aggressively flirt with her in order to get information. In short, he’s a sleazy bastard. I like a character who becomes a better person, I like it when one person encourages another to become a better person, and I like it when a character seems terrible at first but is in fact wonderful, but Darwin was just too nasty (or at least too nasty for me to redeem, especially in a short novel).
In my latest revision, while Darwin still lies about why he is there, he has a better reason for lying – the stakes for him are higher. He’s now open about being engaged. Instead of obnoxiously flirting, he resists his attraction to her. (It’s okay for him to be attracted to her despite being engaged, because the engagement is a sham). She also resists all attraction to him. His resistance of the attraction makes him a better person, and the mutual resistance to the mutual attraction makes the romance a slower burn. To allow for the slower development and more tension, I’ve added several days to their initial time together.
Marianna now has a dog. This is a sensible character aspect for a woman living alone in a rural area, gives opportunity for her to talk to the dog on occasion, is a source of minor conflict (Darwin does not like dogs), is a contributor to the slow burn (the dog interrupts an awkward first kiss), and is a chance for Darwin to demonstrate heroic qualities when he rescues the dog.
The black moment has been moved back, closer to the end of the story, and after a new chapter, which should improve the pacing. Finally, throughout the story, I am adding more thoughts and descriptions to the character’s actions and statements.
I wrote the first draft of this story for NaNoWriMo in 2012. It’s been six years, and I’m still enjoying working on it, but I’m happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for taking this journey with me, and I hope you like the result.