Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time to love

I read a review the other day where someone said that they didn't buy the HEA because the amount of time from when the heroine met the hero, to when they declared their undying love, was too little.  It was only a matter of days, or less than two weeks, something like that.
This is an issue I've faced in my own writing.  I tend to be very H & H focused and don't give a lot of page time to side-stories and subplots.  To me it's all about the journey H & H travel once they meet each other, and often, I put them in situations where they don't want to be away from each other.  They meet, recognize the chemistry, and then act on it - staying together until the end.

Sometimes I see the need in my work for the H & H to have more time together.  Not time on the page, but simple physical time in terms of days and weeks.  But I feel like wedging in those days slows down the story.  Usually my work is designed just like the books say - pile on problem after problem, only giving partial solutions until the ultimate Black Moment demands that everything either comes together or falls apart. 

This, by necessity, creates me writing long, intricate days where a lot of things happen to H & H that draw them closer emotionally while they solve their problems together.  They are not allowed to rest and re-coup.  They don't have down time to sit and bask in the shiny, happy presence of each other.  They battle their personal odds at greater stakes each time.  And they don't take two weeks off in the middle to date and spend time gazing at their navels thinking "does she or doesn't she?"

So how do you find that balance?  Readers want, need and deserve to have a story that constantly moves forward.  But characters deserve to have their futures built on something more stable than seven days of crazy and some damn good boinking. 

I'm moving right now, and one of the things I'm doing for myself is taking the time to digest each potential living situation so I'm not making a rash decision.  I'm taking the time to deliberate on both my needs and my wants - and that's just about a temporary place to rest my head for the next few years, not who I'm going to have children and build a life with.  Why would I expect any less consideration in my characters?

In fact, in Orion's Kiss, I went back and added an extra day for H & H to get better acquainted before they took off on a mini road-trip together.  I knew he needed more time to care enough about her to want to travel with her, and she needed more time to trust him with a few of her secrets.  Yet, the plot and tension advances based on a couple of timelocks, so their trust in each other develops in a pressure-cooker.  And their personal revelations are the result of both stress and necessity.  The whole 400 pages take place in a matter of five days. 

In Never A Bridesmaid they have maybe a week together before the Black Moment.  Sure they go through some tough things during that week, but is seven days really enough to know that you want someone in your life forever?  

It could be that in my writing my characters live the way I never would in reality.  I'm not talking about aliens and bone-melting orgasms.  I'm talking about letting my characters take risks and jump in with both feet in situations where I'd be a lot more cautious.  My life wouldn't sell as a book, but my characters are living a steroidal version of life.  It has to be harder, better, faster, stronger for them.  Otherwise my readers will fall asleep. 

Regardless, I suspect I'm still going to have to rely on a willing suspension of disbelief.

Currently reading: E is For Evidence


Kate Douglas said...

LOL...I'm going to tell you you're WRONG! You CAN base a good relationship on meeting the right guy and some good boinking! (Okay, TMI...but it's true) Case in point--I met a customer in the store where I worked, waited on him and when he left, I told my coworker I was going to marry him. She laughed and asked me what about the guy I was married to at the time? I told her I was working on that...hey, the guy was abusive and it was NOT a happy union! Point being, one week after my divorce was final, I married that guy from the store. That was 38 years ago, and while there are days I could cheerfully murder him, (A feeling I'm certain he reciprocates on occasion) he's still the only one I want. I love those "love at first sight" stories, because I know they can happen in real life. That doesn't mean you want to make it easy for your characters, but I really believe that there are times you just know it's going to work.

I do enjoy your blog, btw!

Venus Vaughn said...

Good for you for kicking the abusive asshole to the curb. Even better for you to see the man of your dreams, grip him with both hands and not let go.

I will keep your advice in mind as I move forward and let my days and timelocks unravel as they may. I hate forcing it.

And I'm so glad you enjoy my blog! Thank you :-) I read yours too ... at least I think I do. You only have RWQ, right? Is there another one?

Erika said...

I am so glad I'm not the only person who struggles with the time spent between the H/H.

Kate, I totally believe in love at first sight. I'm glad it worked out for you.

Kate Douglas said...

Yep--RWQ and on occasion, like once a month, at the Aphrodisia Author's blog. I couldn't do a daily blog. It would suck out too many brain cells.

Thanks, Erika--I was very lucky. I look at the first marriage as my training marriage--it taught me everything I didn't want in a husband!