So where did I go wrong? I gave it all the usual ingredients – feisty heroine; handsome, self-sufficient hero; deep historical mystery; stolen artefact; exotic location and so on.
I didn’t know – until…
A week or so back I began getting my first novel The Epidaurus Inheritance ready for paperback publication. This involved going through the text that I had originally used to upload onto Amazon Kindle a year and a half ago. Sales had been going well, but several people had suggested that I bring out a paperback edition in addition to the e-book. I had to make sure that all formatting was correct for printing, remove all the double spaces that I used to put at the end of each sentence before someone told me it was old-fashioned, and so on. It was a time-consuming exercise, and took me several days. However, I believe that those few days were well spent, because it forced me – for the first time in eighteen months – to actually look at what I had written two to three years ago.
Like most authors, I have a dread of looking back at something that is already “out there” and I was convinced that I would find hundreds of mistakes, poor grammar, clumsy sentence structure and gauche, over-the-top characters.
To my surprise it held up pretty well, I thought.
Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but it was fun to read and I fell in love with those characters all over again. Plus, the action never stops. Even in moments of pure dialogue, there is action because of the conflict that continues between the protagonists right through to the end of the book. They don’t waste pages blah-ing on endlessly about their respective hard-done-by pasts; they just get on with things. Chapters are short but each one has some kind of action or revelation that advances the plot in some way. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is what it sets out to be – an entertaining, romantic, adventure mystery.
So how does my current work compare? Not very favourably. I realised long ago that deep and meaningful, heavily-significant, angst-ridden literature is not really my thing. I don’t enjoy reading it, and I certainly don’t want to write it. For those who want their reading heavy – feel free to scour the bookshops. There’s certainly plenty of that stuff around. However, for those who want a light entertaining read that takes you away from your dull routine or the political horrors on the TV, gives you a bit of wistful wonder at some historical artefact, mixes in a modern-day romance in exotic settings, then you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for thirty years, so I should know a few things by now. I’ve stood in the darkened wings for long enough to gauge when audiences get bored and fidgety. I’ve taken notes while listening to talented writers, directors and performers who know how to give people what they want in order to lighten their lives and take them away from the world for a few hours. The key word here is entertainment.
Audience members who come to our theatre come because they want to be entertained. They love to be fascinated and they relish being able to suspend belief, even when they know that what they are watching is pure fabrication. That magical combination – the artistry of the performers, the ingenuity of an outrageous set that works almost like a character on its own, and the sheer audacity of the director who knows exactly the right way in which to dish it up – all makes for a most satisfying evening’s entertainment.
So I’m going to go back to my original outline for my current WIP, to find out what first drew me to the idea. And then I’m going to hack it to pieces and rebuild it from page one. It’ll be a long, hard slog, but it’ll be worth it.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress...