I’ve been reading ahead in my first draft, to see what’s coming for me in my rewrites. And Lord, it isn’t good.
By the third time in one scene that my heroine blushed, I wanted to rip her out of the draft with my bare hands. My hero too, poncing around saying “Oh woe is me, just because I am beautiful and a duke, I am still a man who bleeds as other men do”.
The number of secondary characters + secondary character plot twists boggles the mind. And makes for sustained melodrama, as everything comes to a head all at once, over chapters and chapters and chapters.
Now, I don’t think it’s at all useful to slam old-me and what old-me wrote, because that’s all a natural part of learning how to actually write – i.e. really not being able to write. It’s kinda great, actually, to see how far a lot of hard work can bring you.
It’s also great being in a headspace that really understands the concept of “kill your darlings”. I’m not just looking at pretty passages here, I’m looking at whole characters and plot points and thinking “if I took you out, would it matter?”
So much of this highly productive headspace has come from listening to Popcorn Dialogues, which is like a masterclass in writing. Jenny Crusie and Lucy March watch a movie a week, then podcast their thoughts and their critical breakdown of it. So far it’s been romantic comedies, but they’re just about to move into Hitmen In Love.
I owe them this great critical phrase: