Saturday, May 15, 2010

Guy Talk in a Cozy

I have a new first reader looking at the first couple of chapters. He mentioned that he had to keep in mind that he's a man reading something by and for women. I told him that's cool, but I also really do want the guy perspective. While you don't want to rewrite, say, a classic category romance into something a guy's guy would like, you also have to watch out for voice-narcissism. You don't want the internal attitude and expectations to feed on themselves and make the whole thing go flat.

An alternate view is what gives you depth. You can't see 3-D movies without those glasses that let you see two perspectives at once.

Anyway, his feedback has already caused me to notice some things. For instance, he made a quick general comment up front that he liked the voice in the second chapter better than the first - even though they felt like a similar voice. In particular, the first needed editing. Too many modifiers.

Now this I find incredibly interesting, because the first chapter undoubtedly does have too much sort of and very, the second chapter is Modifier City. (Although the third is probably worse.) Karla is a mid-westerner, and she will never commit herself to anything outright, and she is also a person with a wild fantasy life, and, well, her life is a run-on sentence.

The voices in first chapter are formal and predictable. The modifiers are more noticeable. Karla, on the other hand, modifies things in wild and unpredictable ways. Where Dr. Cannon thinks of George's accent as "vaguely British," Karla thinks of it as "Englishy, or maybe Austrailianish."

And I'm guessing that one of the issues is that the "chick sensibility" of the overall cozy story is a whole lot more noticeable in scenes written from a guy's point of view. This is not necessarily a problem, but frankly George is not Hugh Grant. He may not be Bruce Willis either, but I will be glad to get the line edits from a guy on this.

It also makes me think of a scene coming up, in which George talks with another guy who is a competitor. I was going over it today, blocking it out in my head, and I realized that what they would really say to each other would not be acceptable in a cozy. What they can say in a cozy would not be realistic. How do you handle that?

So far, I've been able to handle it in Karla's point of view. She can filter it for us through summary, or in the scene I wrote to day, she openly rewrites the scene in her head.

"Forget it," he said. Except he didn't use the word forget, but another word that starts with the same letter which you can't say twice in a movie without getting an R-rating.

But that's Karla's internal voice and I can't do that if we're not in her head.

But I do have three other choices: One is to let the language be a more explicit (it is mildly so now, really) and have fun with Karla's quaintness as contrast. For that I would have to find a way to dirty up the first chapter so that the story sensibility was less cozy overall. The second choice is to just go with the alternate reality of the cozy and be less realistic about language. Which is common and can work.

The third, and the one I'll probably use, is to develop the scene differently to avoid the problem altogether. Because I'm not sure they would actually talk about the subject in question, because... it's kind of a chick-sensibility feelings thing anyway.

But it does make me wonder what choices I would make if I had to.

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