I was asked to write this book.
No, that’s not quite right. My agent suggested that I might write this book. She put the seed in my head, and, being the sort of person who lives with the sort of writer who is generally commissioned to write stuff, and being the sort of person who can’t resist a challenge, and being the sort of person who never turns down a job, I thought I’d give it a go.
I haven’t written this sort of thing before. It’s sort of chick-lit, or romance, and it’s a bit sassy and a bit sexy, and it’s a lot of fun. The research has been fun, and writing in the vernacular has been fun, and letting loose has been fun, and... you know what? I’m having fun. This thing has got a lot of pace, and it’s pouring out fast, and, when it’s done, I think there’s a chance that my lovely agent might like it, and I think there’s a chance she might even be able to sell it for me.
This isn’t the sort of thing that I write, though. This isn’t the sort of thing that I’ve ever written, so I’m looking around for people to test it on. I haven’t really found anyone yet, although, the lovely Reb has offered to beta-read it for me, and she’s always a damned good bet, so I shall certainly take her up on her offer, in due course; she does have at least one book to edit by December, though, since she’s just signed her first contract (huzzah) and I’m not going to stress her out by giving her my latest opus right now!
The dort’s home, which is a lovely treat, so I thought, since she’s young and sassy, that I’d try out a bit of my book on her. I wanted to know if a particular section was working, and I wanted to make sure the pace was good, so I thought I’d read it aloud.
I read it aloud.
“Does it work?” I asked.
“How do you mean?” she asked.
I explained what I was looking for.
“I did not get that,” she said, “but then I’m not very quick with those things.”
This from the girl who got an A* for her A level English, because quick is exactly what she is.
“Maybe if I’d seen it on the page,” she said.
Gosh she is sweet.
I tried it on the husband, in front of the dort.
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” he said.
“Don’t explain it to him like you explained it to me,” said the dort.
“I’ll just read the last line again,” I said.
“That’s what confused me,” said the dort.
“What if it was like this?” I said, repeating the line with a couple of small changes.
“There you go!” said the husband.
“Now I get it!” said the dort.
And there in lies the lesson. Just because it’s light and sassy, just because it’s chick-lit, just because this isn’t LF, and just because this fiction isn’t intended to be terribly demanding, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be right.
More than anything, this has got to be exactly right, more than anything, this has to be the most right. This sort of prose requires the lightest touch, the most measured balance, the tightest plotting, the cleanest and neatest of everything. It isn’t as easy as it looks, but then, who makes it look easy? In my opinion, nobody much makes it look easy, so let’s watch this space and see what I can do, and I just hope I don’t make a total idiot of myself.