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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Author Insight: The Non-negotiables

Is there one thing in your writing/novels you aren't willing to bend on? Have you had to defend an instance of it in the past? If so, at what cost?

"I can become very attached to set pieces, these scenes that stick in my head and may not necessarily advance the story but add a texture that simply thrill me. Those stay in. Always. As does the word “waller.” It’s not even a real word, but it’s in every one of my published novels. ::shrug::" - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"In my reviews, I’ve always been kind of outspoken about hating cliffhangers, so when my editor suggested I end LEVEL 2 on a cliffhanger, I resisted. I worked hard to write an ending that felt like a real ending, but also held the promise of a new beginning in the next book, and fortunately, my editor was on board." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I can’t stand to be rewritten. If my editor is having a problem with a scene, feels like it isn’t working for some reason, or is falling flat, I’ll rewrite it and rewrite until we’re both satisfied. I won’t let the editor insert himself/herself into the actual prose. I feel that’s cheating, just totally dishonest. Plus, I will admit to control freak tendencies." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"It is very painful for me to bend, but so far (I think I can honestly say) I always have. I've been lucky to receive advice from some very capable people, and I try to view suggestions as a creative challenge--my job is to figure out how to revise accordingly while remaining true to my original idea. There's almost always a way to do that, and hopefully the person making the suggestion is willing to bend a little, too." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

"There isn't one particular thing I can think of. Each book has its own journey and I try really hard to be flexible and take my editors' feedback into consideration during the revision process. If I've sold the book, we should be on the same page as far as the story I want to tell, and to me that's the most important thing. When we were trying to sell I Heart You, You Haunt Me, one editor said she'd reconsider if I'd revise and make Jackson, Ava's boyfriend who had died, scarier. But that wasn't the story I was trying to tell. At its heart, it was a love story, and so, I didn't do those revisions, and we went on to sell to someone else." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Falling for You

"A film company offered me a lot of money for the film rights to one of my novels then asked me to change the ending of the book before it was published. I couldn’t find a way to justify it, so I said no. It wasn’t easy, and it cost me a lot. I’m doing this interview from a tent under a highway overpass. (Just kidding.)" - Allen Zadoff, author of Since You Left Me.

"A huge problem would be if I were asked to change the premise of the book, because that’s where the story has its roots. I’ve had to explain and defend a premise, but this process actually helped clarify my own thinking. The only cost was the time it took me to do it! I found that suggestions made by my critique group, agent, and editor were invaluable and made Kissing Shakespeare a better book." - Pamela Mingle, author of Kissing Shakespeare.

"I’m sure there are a few things I wouldn't be willing to bend on. Thankfully, though, I've not yet been forced to wonder just what they are." - Kathleen Peacock, author of Hemlock.

"I've been fortunate so far that nothing in my novels has been challenged by either my editor or readers, but profanity is a thing for me. I don't believe a book has to be spilling over with four-letter words, but I hold fast on not sanitizing a book for the reader's protection." - Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal

"I wouldn't whitewash or straighten a character in order to make a story more "mainstream". Fortunately, this hasn't come up for me - my editor never even remarked on the one homosexual relationship in my first book, Fang Girl. Just as well, as although it only comes up at the very end of the story, it's a crucial plot point!" - Helen Keeble, autor of Fang Girl

"I'm not willing to sacrifice consistency of voice, and I've had to defend that when a character speaks in a rambling way, or uses incorrect grammar--fortunately, though, not very often, as my editor is extremely astute about all of this. Copy editors sometimes have a bit more difficulty. The cost--hmmm. More work/time involved? Like I said, it doesn't happen often, because I think my publisher's whole staff has a good grip on voice and letting it be what it needs to be." - Susan Vaught, author of Freaks Like Us

Come back Thursday to learn what the rest of the authors won't bend on when it comes to their writing. 

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