PDA

View Full Version : A post form somewhere else



alinasandor
08-22-2004, 11:24 PM
Here is a romance question I posted a while back and thought it and it's answers might go well here:


Author Comment
alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 33
(6/24/04 12:21 pm)
Reply | Edit Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am writing a romance novel about a woman who is dying to become famous through her writing. Her high-school sweetheart, a famous rodeo star, steps back into the picture after ten years and he has a secret. He saw his brother and girlfriend commit double suicide and never told anyone. Everyone in town thinks the two eloped. The two bodies get pulled out of the river and the town is in an uproar.He confides this secret that he's kept for the last ten years to her. She writes an article for the paper she works for, exposing him and his secret. She does this for the sole purpose of getting famous.
Okay, here is the problem: Am I going to loose the reader's sympathy for the heroin? She does feel remorseful afterward and tries to make it right, but does that one act ruin the rest of the story?

Edited by: alinasandor at: 6/24/04 3:18 pm

emeraldcite
Board leader
Posts: 693
(6/24/04 12:34 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Am I going to loose the reader's sympathy for the heroin?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Well, I hope not. heroin's a bad drug, and letting your readers' sympathy loose on that problem might end your readership fast.

But turning toward the question of losing your readership's sympathy for your heroine, I would think that it depends on whether you put her in a situation where she wrongly performs the act. Instead of making her immoral, make it a bad decision. Instead of this being her road to stardom, make it a matter of having it turn into a bad choice. I think this might help make the remorse meaningful and believable.

Otherwise, I would lose pity for her quickly if she turned him in for the fame, and I don't think I could trust her remorse. Now, on the other hand if she feels forced into this decision and then repents for the misdeed, then maybe, if done well, I could go for the sympathy.

That's just my two cents as a reader. I'm not a big fan of romance, so I might not be the best to respond. But I felt like it anyway. Good luck!

Betty W01
Empress of the
Cyberworld
Posts: 1471
(6/24/04 12:40 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think you could make it go either way, so ask yourself a bunch of questions first: does he ask her to keep it a secret? Is she still in love with him? Does she know or suspect it'll destroy him? Why doesn't she care, if she still loves him. Does she still love him? How badly does she need the boost to her career? Does she have a sick child she is supporting that no one knows about or a dying mother to support? Does she have an ulterior motive (maybe the GF was her little sis?) Did he leave her without saying good-bye because he was so torn up about the deaths, and she's hated him for it all these years, tells his secret, and then is eaten up with remorse? Back story questions.

Even if you don't use it all (and please don't), you need to know enough about her to know why she did it, and to let the readers know without boring them.

There's a lot you can do with this. I don't write fiction, but I read tons of it. I've read of heroines who do this sort of thing and yet, because you knew where they were coming from with it, you didn't hate them, just their action.

Good luck.


Empress of the Cyberworld
AKA
Betty W01
NSL Board Diva


maestrowork
Building a Mountain of Dew
Posts: 1881
(6/24/04 12:49 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You're treading thin ice here, especially if this is a romance. The thing to remember is, you must present the motives in the right light so that your heroine would get sympathy/empathy from the readers, so they'd like to go along the ride with her.

IMHO, if she exposes her sweetheart just to get famous, then no, I won't feel sympathy for her because she's a self-serving b-tch. It will take a LOT for her to turn around for me to like her again.

If she exposes him because of justice or morality, then yes, it makes her a sympathic character and also puts her in a tough conflict (do the right thing or not?) If you present it as (keep the man or be famous) then your "conflict" is a wrong one.

Even if you choose that, you have to present the world around her as realistic as possible to gain the reader's empathy. They may now side with the sweetheart, or the townsfolk who think she is a bad person, or whatever. Anyway, you need to create a character(s) with whom the readers can identify. If your heroine turns out to be this self-serving b-tch, then you need to have another POV character for them to root for, until your heroine turns around and redeems herself.

Otherwise, I'd rather you give your heroine a better conflict, if you want to keep her the sympathetic figure.




Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK

alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 34
(6/24/04 1:03 pm)
Reply | Edit Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Did he leave her without saying good-bye because he was so torn up about the deaths, and she's hated him for it all these years, tells his secret, and then is eaten up with remorse?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Three cheers for the Empress of Mind Reading!
Yep, how did you know? That is exactly what happens in my story. Then, she is faced with taking a job offer she gets from a big time newspaper. Now, I think if she turns the offer down that wouldn't be believable because, even though she did something she regrets, would she really pass up something she really wants? Even for love? Hmmm....

veingloree
One of the
locals
Posts: 355
(6/24/04 1:03 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think it would be more typicsl to have her consider doing this, bit not to actually do it.

macalicious731
Board fanatic
Posts: 363
(6/24/04 1:37 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One note: Ten years later and the bodies are pulled up in the river? Ten years is a lot of time... if they weren't found ten years ago, the river should have swept the bodies far far away a long time ago. A lake, maybe? It'd better be a really big lake.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
who knows where thoughts come from? they just appear.
- empire records

LiamJackson
Sexy like
Spike
Posts: 572
(6/24/04 2:04 pm)
Reply
Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
and VERY cold

(not sure it can get cold enough to sustain flesh in water for ten years barring a new ice age. )

Edited by: LiamJackson at: 6/24/04 5:15 pm

alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 35
(6/24/04 3:39 pm)
Reply | Edit Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hmm...there's a point.
Isn't possible, though, that they washed down stream, got caught in a lot of brush and trees? The water didn't wash them far, far away because there wasn't enough water on the bank to wash them away. (Which happens to be very common in drought stricken Southern Oklahoma.)
Just my thoughts, correct me if I'm wrong.
I intend on doing research on that part after I get the plot worked out. :-)

Pthom
Board regular
Posts: 132
(6/24/04 4:09 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
After ten years in a river, whether water was cold or not, the bodies would be reduced to dissassociated bones. Bacteria, aquatic animals and insects, worms . . . . (I suppose that if the bodies were in an icy cold lake, otherwise devoid of life there might be some flesh left.) That you mention this might occur in Oklahoma, however, makes it hard for me to believe that there'd be anything left of the victim's bodies that would be recognizable without an extensive forensic investigation.

Some years ago, there was a murder in my county; the victim was hacked up and tossed in the river, right in the middle of town. The pieces were were discovered several weeks following the crime; because of deterioration, it was several more weeks before the victim's identity could be determined. At the location of the crime, the average temperature of the river is 38 F.

Now, if the couple committed suicide in a car, maybe . . . An example: In the film The Postman, the protagonist finds the body of a mail carrier, inside a car, in the winter snow and there is little remaining of him inside his uniform but his skeleton. I don't recall if it mentioned how long since the 'disaster' that caused the victim's demise, but I doubt it was ten years. And, he wasn't submerged in water.

Ten years is too long, I think.
Pthom
~~Vita Brevis, Ars Longa~~

John Buehler
New friend
Posts: 6
(6/24/04 4:13 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's not a murder mystery, so I wouldn't sweat the 10 years thing too much. Rivers have calms, and some have lots of sediments that can bury bodies in lees and such. Cold water isn't mandatory either, given that forensic medicine is getting to be quite good at identifying bodies. They could be identified by dental records, DNA, clothing, jewelry, a wallet, any number of things. But again, this is worrying about murder mystery stuff. I dunno how much romance such things bring out in readers...

Oh, and the greater problem is having both bodies found at the same time. That can be solved by having some large construction project that affects a long stretch of the river's bank. Or find one body, inspiring a search for another once its identity is established.

As for your base quandary, I'm with emerald. When a character makes a mistake, we can cringe and hope that she will become aware of it and make amends. When she becomes aware of the mistake and embraces it, that becomes a problem where you might alienate the reader.

And on the topic of going for a job that gets offered to her, that's the key moment. Does she let bodies fall where they may, think "how sad" and continue to pursue her own ends? Or will she understand that she has 'tainted' the job offer with her actions, and realize that if she were to take it, her entire career would be based on unethical actions?

A character making amends (paying a penance) for past transgressions is the sort of thing that authors have written about more than once. I don't know how much folks would enjoy hearing about just the transgressions part.

JB

Terra Aeterna
New friend
Posts: 28
(6/24/04 4:14 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Errrh, at the risk of oversharing. . .

From what I remember from my forensic anthropology, a body left for ten years in running water would be a skeleton. The water (not to mention fishes, and we gotta mention fishes, according to that other thread about fishes in successful stories) would erode away all the soft parts. And unless the bones were wedged in pretty tight, it's possible they would be scattered over time as well.

As a side note, corpses washed away by floods are often found completely stripped of clothing. Water can be amazingly powerful stuff.

None of this means that the remains couldn't be discovered and identified. Dental records or maybe DNA from bone marrow if there was any marrow left. And hey, does Southern Oklahoma have any peat bogs? Maybe your victims ended up preserved in peat.

macalicious731
Board fanatic
Posts: 374
(6/24/04 4:33 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isn't possible, though, that they washed down stream, got caught in a lot of brush and trees? The water didn't wash them far, far away because there wasn't enough water on the bank to wash them away.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



If there wasn't enough water on the bank to wash them away, then it should also be shallow enough they would be found. - That's my take, anyway.

And someone else brought up a good point which I also wanted to mention. (I'm sorry, I forget who.) I think it would be more plausible for only one of the bodies to turn up - it is very unlikely they would stick together, unless they were somehow tied or handcuffed together, as a part of the joint suicide.

Anyway, I'll let this go, as you said you were going to be doing research. (;


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
who knows where thoughts come from? they just appear.
- empire records

Edited by: macalicious731 at: 6/24/04 4:35 pm

maestrowork
Building a Mountain of Dew
Posts: 1890
(6/24/04 4:37 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fish and bugs and stuff would have eaten or carried the bones away... in any case, the bones would be scattered and buried and whatever... most certainly if a corpse has been in the river for 10 years, nothing much would be left, let alone being found and identified. Perhaps fragments would be found by the riverbend. That's possible.

Yes, 10 years is a long time. Unless there's a reason for it (there's a kid, 9 years old), keep the time frame immediate.

Choose your character's motivation carefully. It's okay if she betrays him, but her motivation must be more than just greed -- as Betty suggested (family, revenge, etc.) -- pick something strong and morally implausible, other than greed. Beside, it's a romance -- you need to have something for us to root for the guy and the girl to get back together and live happily ever after. It'd be very difficult for a guy to forgive and forget if the girl sells him out for money or fame!





Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK

Edited by: maestrowork at: 6/24/04 4:38 pm

alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 36
(6/24/04 4:39 pm)
Reply | Edit Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've read a lot of romance. I'm with John Buehler in the fact that romance really doesn't get into such things.
Also, I didn't go into detail on what condition the bodies were in. They were going to be just some remains, i.e., maybe a head here (dental records) and a leg there (DNA). The bodies (or bones, if you prefer) were found on the river's edge, also, so it is not a far stretch of the imagination to think that after they drowned the bodies could have washed up on the bank and been covered by brush, dirt, what have you.
There is no way I thought that flesh could still be on the bones! It has been ten years, after all, and I do watch shows like "Cold Cases," so I'm not a complete dolt.
I've heard of lots of cases were the dead are found ten years later with all of their bones still together, as long as they were on land.
And no, they weren't found together, exactly, so no need to worry about that point.

I love it when you guys pick a post apart with a fine toothed comb. It really gets the poster thinking.


Edited by: alinasandor at: 6/24/04 4:54 pm

macalicious731
Board fanatic
Posts: 376
(6/24/04 5:01 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lol, it's good to know we didn't upset you with all of our nitpicking. I learned a long time ago you'll get more than you bargained for on this forum.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
who knows where thoughts come from? they just appear.
- empire records

maestrowork
Building a Mountain of Dew
Posts: 1896
(6/24/04 5:04 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We're just trying to help. You don't have to detail all the little stuff, but the more believable your scenario is, the more engaging would be for the readers, so they don't step back and say, "hey, wait a minute..."




Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK

emeraldcite
Board leader
Posts: 694
(6/24/04 6:32 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
so they don't step back and say, "hey, wait a minute..."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I'm that way. the film Gothika really got me upset with all the plot holes. It's not that things necessarily need to be filled with great detail, but there needs to be enough to satisfy logic and curiosity. The last thing you want your readers to think is "well, about those bodies...."

At least make sure you gracefully handle the situation, and that you extinguish any questions that the reader might have before they ask them (unless those questions are conducive for the plot's progression).

you have to keep your reader wondering about the things that make the plot go. you don't want them worrying about the little details that help sustain the plot but have little to do with its forward momentum.

I like the situation that your main character is in. It's precarious and rife with moral indecision. You just have to get your character through it without making her a target for your audience.

Pthom
Board regular
Posts: 133
(6/24/04 7:50 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's called suspending disbelief. If you are going to mention that bodies are found after ten years, even briefly, make sure you describe the discovery in a manner that the most critical reader will believe the situation is possible.
Pthom
~~Vita Brevis, Ars Longa~~

emeraldcite
Board leader
Posts: 695
(6/24/04 8:04 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's called suspending disbelief
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



you could put it that way

Pthom
Board regular
Posts: 136
(6/24/04 8:06 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pthom
~~Vita Brevis, Ars Longa~~

alinasandor
08-22-2004, 11:26 PM
Here is the rest of the posts:

Author Comment
alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 40
(6/28/04 5:10 pm)
Reply | Edit Re: Help! I've got a PROBLEM!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Okay, so let's assume that I have all that worked out with the bodies and all, and I've done my research, etc., etc.

Do you guys think that, if given the chance, a hero could honestly forgive something like this? I'm not sure that he can, so I may just change that part. I'm not sure.

SimonSays
Board regular
Posts: 88
(6/28/04 5:35 pm)
Reply Re: Help! I've got a problem
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I guess that might depend on HIS reason for keeping the secret to begin with. If his reasonsing 10 years ago was questionable, then perhaps he could forgive her. And you gotta figure his reasoning must be questionable, to let the bodies rot in the water all those years instead of giving his brother a proper burial.

Also if she is motivated not only by dreams of fame but also by a journalist's belief in exposing the truth - no matter what that truth may be, then both the reader and the hero - would be more willing to forgive her.

alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 47
(6/30/04 4:31 pm)
Reply | Edit For you guy that wonder....
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I did find an interesting bit of information in my research about bodies lasting over ten years. Here is the info from Murder and Mayhemby D.P. Lyle, M.D., pg. 224:
"The formation of adipocere is an alternative to complete putrefaction of the body...If the body is buried in damp soil, immersed in water, or placed in a crypt or vault, adipocere can result...It takes three to twelve months to form and may last for decades, though it tends to become more brittle as the years pass."
Just thought you guys would like to know that it can happen.



maestrowork
Resident Bug Chef
Posts: 2128
(6/30/04 4:42 pm)
Reply Re: For you guy that wonder....
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Very good. But seriously, trust your readers. Most people trust their first instincts and I'm sure theirs would be "Wait a minute, body found after in water after 10 years." Either you change that, or you will have to do a lot of explaining for those who don't understand forensics. :-)

The bottomline is, if you can't convince the readers, your story will fail.

***

The biggest issue for you, of course, is whether your lovers would end up together after all the deceit and betrayal. Since it's a romance, it is VERY important that your readers can identify with both your hero and heroine and root for them.

The best way to find out is to write your story, then ask a few beta readers (your target demographics) to read it and tell you what makes sense and what not.




Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK

SRHowen
Board regular
Posts: 387
(6/30/04 4:50 pm)
Reply just in case you wanted to know more
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
more info--

I think you could include a reference to some of the info about the idea.

Interesting site--

Shawn

alinasandor
New friend
Posts: 48
(6/30/04 5:17 pm)
Reply | Edit Re: just in case you wanted to know more
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wow! Thanks, Shawn. What an amazing site.

kelwynnda
08-23-2004, 03:15 AM
Hi,

I think you have problems with this heroine's decision to choose fame over love in romance, unless, as a prior poster indicated, your heroine has some compelling reasons to hurt him this way... other than she needs a juicy story to launch her career.

Romance is always about choosing love... over everything else. The conflict in this story is this woman sees love and fame as opposites... she doesn't think she can have both. I think what you're leading up to is a defining moment for the heroine where she realizes that she just can't do it. She realizes that her quest for fame-- as important as it has been-- isn't worth it; that love is the only thing she really wants and needs and that she's found it in this man. That's really more of a romance plot line. I'd then let her "stumble" into fame as a "reward" for having made a loving choice. Maybe she writes a book about two doomed lovers (taking the plot from his confession to her) and it ends up a bestseller or being made into a movie or something? Then she ends up getting the guy and fame, too and having learned something about what she really wants in life, and how to be a better person to boot.

In my novel, A PERSONAL MATTER, my heroine faces such a defining moment when she realizes that all of her prior notions about whom you love, and why you love them are b.s.-- and that she really wants the man who is the last person she'd have ever believed she'd fall in love with. Admitting that she loves him frees her from all kinds of mental tyranny, clarifies her choices and gives her the courage not just to love and be loved, but to pursue the career she's always dreamed of... but been too scared to reach for.

And that's what makes it a romance. Love conquers all.

So I guess what I"m saying is it's fine that the heroine wants fame-- that's her internal struggle-- but I think the crisis has to be what she chooses to do when the opportunity have fame at the cost of her relationship presents itself. And if you're writing a romance, she almost HAS to choose love (and accept the consequences) in order for the book to satisfy your audience's expectations.

Just my humble o,

Karyn

A PERSONAL MATTER
(HarperTorch)
Coming September 1!

alinasandor
08-25-2004, 01:59 AM
I just thought this post might help someone else. I am way past that part in my book, but thanks for the comment. :thumbs

Alina Sandor, Freelance Writer
alinasandor.tripod.com (http://alinasandor.tripod.com)
Get Critiqued!
alinasandor.tripod.com/mo...n/id6.html (http://alinasandor.tripod.com/modesofexpression/id6.html)
Check out my bio and latest fiction stories at: www.keepitcoming.net/alina-sandor.html (http://www.keepitcoming.net/alina-sandor.html)