For the next couple weeks, I’ll be using Sunday to feature deleted scenes from The Cold Wife.
I cut about 40,000 words out of the original book to get the revised version. Early on I got several complaints about Carrie, the heroine in this book. Only one person (that I know of) liked her. This was before most people knew I wrote books, so it was like ten people total who gave me feedback, and I figured 9 people out of 10 hating my heroine was bad.
The reason most people didn’t like her was because she continued to give Justin (the hero) a hard time. In the revised version, she gave him a hard time, but then she relented after they returned from Mr. and Mrs. Davidson (the Davidsons were the couple with a lot of cats and the husband was big into hunting). Anyway, in the original version, Carrie didn’t understand why Justin was detained with Mr. Davidson who insisted he and Harrison Jr. hunt with him all day. Carrie intentionally did things to upset Justin in hopes he would annul the marriage. One such incident was the scene I posted yesterday.
In the years that followed since I revised The Cold Wife, I’ve come to learn two things:
1. If a story is meant to be shorter, then it needs to be shorter.
My initial inclination when I was writing The Cold Wife was to make the story shorter, but since An Unlikely Place for Love and An Inconvenient Marriage (which I wrote before The Cold Wife) were in the 90,000-word range, I thought The Cold Wife had to be that many words, too. I prolonged The Cold Wife in order to make it about 90,000+ words. To do that, I had to prolong the conflict.
2. Heroines who don’t fall head over heels for the hero right away are not as “likable” as those who do.
This has been proven over and over again with my books. People are a lot more forgiving of the hard-headed hero than they are of the hard-headed heroine. If the heroine resists the hero, she is often seen as immature or jerky. I guess that stems from the whole notion that a a guy who sleeps around is a stud but a girl who sleeps around is a slut. The culture is often more forgiving of men pulling stunts that women couldn’t as easily get away with.
Does that mean I make all of my heroines the type who immediately fall in love with the hero? Nope. I let the heroines decide who they are and take it from there. I can tell what type of star rating I’ll get from a book as I’m writing it based on the heroine’s response to the hero or based on the level of humor in my books. Comedy tends to be unpopular in the star ratings, too.
Since I have written over 40 books (some of those not being romances and some short), I’ve also learned that if the characters don’t guide the book, it won’t be any good (at least good to me). Then I’ll have to go back and rewrite it. So these days, I’m inclined to put writing on hold if the story is veering off course of where it should be. If the ideas suddenly stop coming, it’s usually a sign that I’m not listening to the characters or the characters need some time to figure out what they want to do next. And even if the characters want to go in a direction that is “unrealistic” or “immature” or “mean” to some, I do it anyway. Having written as many books as I have at this point, I understand that no book will please everyone, and I’m okay with that. As long as the characters are happy, the book is as it should be.
That all being said, I am happier with The Cold Wife as it is now because the book should never have been 90,000+ words long. 😀