I blame it on Mr. Write, a gentleman in my writers’ group. I like blaming things on him. He takes it in stride and usually laughs it off. I really hate to admit it when he’s right and dog gone it, just between you and me, he’s right a lot. He’s constantly adding little red squiggles on my pages–adding commas and such. It annoys me because I personally think commas are overrated. Unfortunately, the editor at The Wild Rose Press agreed and all those pesky, little commas are in the edited manuscript.
This particular incident of him possibly being right isn’t as simple as blood-red marks on my pages. He’s completely, I mean COMPLETELY, changed my current WIP, Ex-Ray. You see, since my other two NY Times Bestselling novels are contemporary romance, I assumed Ex-Ray was as well. It was going along just fine–60K words worth of angst, heartbreak, love, great sex and snark.
The only character to appear in two of my books is Owen. He’s the cop that notifies Summer Leigh about Dwight’s injuries in Redneck Ex. Since Anne, the main character in Ex-Ray, works as a 9-1-1 operator in Barrow, it made sense to have Owen show up in this book as well. Good grief. Barrow isn’t that big. There should be some character overlap.
The only problem is that Owen is a super nice guy and dreamy to boot.
Anne has fallen in bed with Joe Carducci–the new cop in town. A couple of weeks ago, I read the scene where Anne finds out that Owen likes her in that way as well. When I finished reading the scene, Mr. Write said, “Anne gets together with Owen, right?”
I said, “No. She’s with Joe.”
He said, “Owen’s too nice. You can’t leave him hanging.” Okay, I paraphrased ever so slightly.
Several other folks nodded in agreement. I didn’t think anything of it. What can the experienced, multi-published writers of my little writing group possibly know? Owen’s fate was sealed when I gave my mother the excerpt to read and she said, “Honey bunch, you need to write another story set in Barrow so Owen can find someone. He’s a nice boy and needs to good girl.”
So, yesterday when I was preparing the reading for last night, I looked at the Ex-Ray manuscript. I had skipped ahead 3 months in the story. Figured I’d go back and fill in the details of that missing time later. I scrolled down the page and ran across this: in big bold, red no less, letters Deal with Anne’s emotions about Owen.
Well I did and discovered Anne has been in love with Owen for years. I was just too dense to see it. Now, I have her in a very physical relationship with Joe and an extremely close, emotional relationship with Owen. Sounds like real life to me, right? Love triangles happen all the time. How many times have you been dateless and as soon as one guy asks you out another one does too?
I like the fact that Anne loves Owen. He’s very lovable. Only problem? In contemporary romance you can NOT have a main character who has feelings for more than one person. If the MC has slept with someone on the pages (past relationships don’t count) then she cannot sleep with anyone else. Good grief. In YA novels girls can screw the entire football team and no one blinks, but in an adult, contemporary romance, there can be no question who the MC ends up with. Did I mention, Adult? Contemporary? As in 21 century? A time when monogamy isn’t expected until the “exclusivity” discussion.
As I read the excerpt last night, I knew I’d made the right decision. Owen has been there for Anne from the very beginning, but when I finished the reading, I was totally depressed. I’ll have to rewrite the entire freaking novel. It’s no longer contemporary romance.
You know what Mr. Write said? “Change the genre.”
Well, duh. Claire Croxton is now a writer of contemporary romance AND women’s fiction.
Thanks, Mr. Write and Mama. 🙂