February 25, 2022 A Milestone Reached

Friday, February 25, 2022

Last night I sent Homicide on the Range off to my beta readers. This was supposed to happen Tuesday, but I ran into two glitches that had to be fixed before anyone except me saw the book.

The first one was that I had repeated much of the same information in two different scenes. This happens on a fairly regular basis with me. I have some incident or description or clue that seems just so good, I don’t want to forget to use it. But somehow I forget that I put it in chapter three and use it in chapter twenty-seven, too.

This is something I pick up in the revision stage. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, because by that time I’ve been over the book several times, and I’m never sure whether it’s actually in there more than once or I just remember it from the last time I read that section. So I have to search through the manuscript and find out which it is. Then, since the two occurrences aren’t exactly the same, I have to merge the information in both of them together. And decide where this gem should really go.

The second issue was more difficult. Toward the end of the book, I wrote this fascinating scene where one of the major characters has a change in direction in his or her life. (I don’t want to divulge who it was, so that’s why I’m writing it that way.) The thing is, even as I was writing this fascinating twist, a voice in the back of my head was saying, “That wouldn’t happen in a cozy mystery.” To which I responded, “So what? I love that development. And it’s written so well.” And the voice replied, “Wasn’t this supposed to be the series where you remained true to cozy conventions and didn’t go off in an unexpected direction?” “Well, yes, but this would be so much fun!” “You know you’ll lose some readers because of it.” Stubborn silence ensues.

In the end, I knew the voice was right, and so gave the character a different twist, something much more in line with cozy readers’ expectations. But it wasn’t easy.

Which is why I’m writing and posting this the next morning. I was too worn out from arguing with myself to do anything else last night.

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