I'm a firm believer in signs - coincidences are not merely random events, but suggestions put forth by the universe. Now, some of these suggestions are usually cryptic and fly right over my head, until I have perfect hindsight and slap my forehead in understanding. Others are so blatantly obvious if I didn't take note and act, I would kick myself for years to come.
Such signs are flashing neon above my head these days. I spoke last week of my decision to revisit Lady Bells. I was inspired by the story of Stephen Parrish and his endless re-writes on a project he believed in with all his heart (the link is in my post "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back"). Yesterday, Alannah Lynne guest blogged on Plotmonkeys about her bevy of rewrites on a story she believed in. Another sign pointing me in the direction of a rewrite.
Well, I began that re-write last night. Karyn is expecting an e-mail with the first 50 pages - and I can't give it to her because I feel like I'm going in circles. Before, my rewrites of Lady Bells have been reworking the same ingredients. All the stuff in the pot, just stirred counter clockwise, instead of clockwise. And that's what I started with, again. But something doesn't feel right. Something is missing.
Here are the things I think it could be:
My Voice - since writing blogposts for Prairie Chicks, starting up and writing every day here on the Journal, and working on short and contemporary fiction, I think I've found my voice - that element that makes my writing unique. When I read Lady Bells, I don't hear that voice. But how do I infuse a medieval murder mystery with my off the wall, quirky humor?
Lady Bells' Conflict - She needs to have an element of fear when it comes to her new husband. Right now, all I've got is that she believes, from his actions, that he is exactly like her father. Not enough, in my opinion, to keep her at the distance she needs to be in order for all the plot threads to work. And what is there can be 'fixed' with a simple conversation - you know what they say about that type of conflict!
The First 50 Pages - I read this thing and as soon as I get past those first 50 pages, into the meat of the story where she slowly discovers all is not right in her new home and her husband is hiding some really nasty secret from her, I love it. It moves along at a good clip, has some awesome sexual tension, and the subplots all make perfect sense. Those first 50 pages - meh!
Hugh's Character Flaw - He stalked a young woman right after he negotiated for Lady Bells' hand in marriage. OK, the young woman was Lady Bells, but he didn't know that. It eats at him, the resemblance to his father's infidelity, but it's there and may not come be the perfect light for a hero starting out in his marriage. Back in the day (medieval day, that is) this would not be an issue. Today, in a romance novel, it is.
Help! Help! Help! Perhaps the Universe could send another sign - just one more. Afterall, that would make three and you now what they say about things happening in threes!
Question for you, People of Blogland - would you read a medieval romance with a quirky heroine who gets drunk in the first 50 chapters, makes the assumption her husband is a womanizer and it will be just a matter of time before she's left in the role of dutiful wife and mother, and fears getting close to him because he's just like her father? Oh, and one more - do you believe in signs?