Thursday, March 5, 2009


Wow, how many times have I used that same word? I guess one more time.

I happened to think about this yesterday when I made the comment about the Twilight series. It then got me thinking back to a comment I made a while back about the women's fiction issue. Writers in general tend to struggle with the idea of listening. They are so busy with wanting to make a unique phrase, and come up with a great idea that they often forget to listen to what other people have to say. In then end, this is a huge mistake.

Let me re-cap a couple of those earlier comments. The first was the issue with Women's fiction. I made the comment about UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and was very clear to point out that I was dealing with the book and not the movie. For those of you that have read the book, you will have noticed that there was a VERY BIG difference between the two. In fact, other than the story set in Cortona and a couple of things with the house, these were really two very different stories. When I used that comment, I used it with the intent of highlighting what was significant with the sub-genre of women's fiction. The comments that came up dealt not with the key elements of women's fiction, but that of the acting ability of Diane Lane.

The second idea was that of the editor begging at the Dallas conference for a vampire teen book. Again, someone had to have been listening (or at least it was a huge coincidence). Unfortunately, most writers would not have heard exactly what this editor was looking for. It was very clear in her comments that the issue was not so much about the book being for teens or that she wanted vampires, but she wanted all of the passion and boiling emotion that we normally see in a vamp story but give the opportunity to the teens to experience it. Ms. Myers did just that.

The last idea is that of comments that come from editors and agents. I'm talking revision letters and general feedback that might come with a rejection. Again, writers make cosmetic changes to their stories but never really listen to the comments that came in the letter. For example, we might say we struggled with the way the hero and heroine dealt with issues in the beginning. We struggled with the way the hero couldn't stand up at a later point. We struggled with how up-front the heroine was in another scene. Now, when the editor or agent wrote this, the odds were that he or she had a list in front of them of a couple of points. Listening to the comment, however, I would say that the bigger issue, or the underlying problem was the lack of balance between the hero and heroine. That this editor or agent wanted a heroine that was weaker and could be saved and the hero was not alpha enough.

So, listen to what people say. Listen to what they write. Do not just take everything for the denotative meaning and leave it at that.


1 comment:

  1. Oops. So sorry, Scott. After all the help you have given me over the last year, the last thing on my mind would be undermining some of your advice. I thought I said I was referring to the issues addressed by the movie, not the book, AND the reason the movie was such a useful experience for me, was precisely because I suddenly did understand what else women's fiction is about, besides hitting the bed, and even better, the way in which subplots can be used to illustrate much more about the lead character, than a reader can tell, by watching and listening to what she does and says, alone. I never really understood the relationship between multiple subplots and the main character, until I watched the movie. (Eureka!)
    The secondary characters were so nicely drawn, and each one was used ( I now see AFTER the fact, to actually tell the viewer ( or reader) what kind of person Diane Lane (sorry) was overall.
    Perhaps I am a slow learner. And even a stone can be a teacher, as they say.
    I apologize again if I confused or misled anyone with my comments. I'll look forward to reading the book. But doggone, it was a good movie!