I’ve just completed the umpteenth edit of Hope and I’m wondering: What more will it take to make this novel publish-worthy? According to my betas and developmental editor I’m getting closer.
“Readers want a protagonist who takes charge, who wins against all odds,” is what I’m told. But that’s not what life was like in Hope’s time. She lived in a time (early 1900s) and a culture (rural, conservative, strictly religious) where women believed they were subservient. A divorced woman was branded, somehow tainted by the fact that she would walk out on a husband she swore before God to obey. And the question is, what would it take for a woman of that time to flout tradition and leave her husband?
It’s not that I can’t understand the reader’s point of view. Novels are meant to be “flights of fancy,” they are meant to take us away from life’s everyday pressure and let us fantasize about what might be, even if that fantasy defies reality. We want our heroines strong, even (and especially) if sometimes we are not so strong ourselves.
So the question is, how do I stay true to Hope’s time and culture and still give readers what they want?
I think—I think—I’m getting closer to finding that fine line.
This labor of birthing a book is hard.
One thought on “Editing Woes”
Being true to a character and times is important to keep a novel authentic. This writing style is what made Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley one of my favorites. I hated one character all the way through to the end. Kelley didn’t change the character for a neat happy ending. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it as a great example of character development.
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