Monday, August 19, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Cloudy

I'm busy working on edits on The Marine's Heiress. Actually it's a total rewrite using the rough first draft as an outline. I'm suffering a lot of uncertainty as I work through the middle third of the book. It's not a saggy middle. Lots is happening and the story is moving forward. I think my characters are interesting and worth investing in but....

This book is being written under my pen name, Susan Kelley, and is intended to be a science fiction romance like its predecessor, The Marine's Queen. My concern is the romance. Is there enough in the book? I hope to send this novel to my romance editor by this time next month, but I'm worried about it. Have I let the science fiction story overwhelm the love story?

I'm fortunate enough to have a lovely swimming pool. I vacuumed it one week ago and within two hours, it started to turn green. A very pretty, translucent green. Realizing I didn't shock it as recommended after vacuuming, I attended to that. It cleared up for a bout an hour and then turned green again. I double shocked it. Cleared up and then clouded again. I knew I was out of my league in pool diagnosis though I guessed the ph balance was upset. So I went to the pool store, ask the experts, and heard how all the recent rain, especially acid rain, would disrupt the pool balance. The nice man advised me to double-doubled shock and then bring in a sample of the pool water to them for analysis if that didn't work. They would be able to tell me exactly what I needed to add to clear the water. Today my pool is no longer cloudy.

Asking the experts was so much easier than stressing while I tried to figure it out on my own. The pool experts can tell me exactly what I need to fix the problem. Applying the same principal to my writing, I'm going to stop worrying about the balance of science fiction and romance in my new book and let my editor tell me if it needs something added or something deleted. I'm going to write the book as feels comfortable to me and wait for the test of the experts.

Who do you go to when you feel uncertain about your writing? What part of your writing do you most often question? What percentage of romance does a book need to have to be a romance?


  1. The rule of thumb I follow is that if it's SF Romance, both elements should be equally strong.

    As a reader, I would expect a strong romance as integral as the SF.

    But if it's SF with 'romantic elements', I wouldn't expect more than casual mentions--a thread in the story line but not the core of the story.

  2. We can't be afraid to ask someone with more experience for help. As for a romance book being considered a romance, I'd say it needs to be half of the story. But there's nothing wrong with it being strong elsewhere with romantic elements.

  3. I think that's a smart idea. The story won't be as good if you are second guessing yourself while you're writing.

  4. I have two critique partners I go to for answers, one of them at any step in the process. My two test readers are great as well.
    Not sure how much romance needs to be involved though.

  5. I think you are doing the right thing. Write it and allow your editors to guide you where the story is not working (if that is the case). If the diagnosis is that more romance is needed, than you know what you need to do in order to make the story balance out!

  6. Great analogy and good questions. I let the characters lead the story, and you're right the editor in the end. But my suspenseful romance also labeled a mystery has been called on both ends. In the end the reader decides, and no one can please everyone! :)

  7. Asking the experts is always a good plan! I tend to turn to my CPs who are all awesome! My biggest problem with writing is conflict - I get tension but not enough conflict. I've got to stop letting them fix their problems. :)

  8. It's so much easier to ask the experts! I can't tell you how many times I've struggled through something just to find out the solution was so easy, if only I would have asked.

  9. I don't think I have anything to add but the post was thought-provoking as were the responses. What a smart group of writers you all are.

  10. Hi, Susan,

    I think an editor to help is the way to go. Why stress when you CAN turn to an expert.

    It is all about the balance...

    You may be surprised that it doesn't need as much as you think!

    All the best with your new work!

  11. Glad you stopped the worry. Very cool. And I bet your green water looked similar to the drink I just made to bring to work.

    Though I call it, pond scum.

  12. sometimes, you are right--ya just gotta leave it to those experts!! that romance question is a hard one :)