I’m pretty sure my lovely editor wanted to reach through the computer screen and strangle me. In October, I had her look at the first book I ever published, To Honor and Cherish, the one I was so proud of. I’d submitted it to various agents and done an obscene amount of rewrites on…to find out that while the story itself was good, it needed some work. A lot of work.
One thing that I noticed as I went through her notes was my propensity for the word looked and mentioning what the characters eyes were doing. I contemplated that for a while. I also worked on fixing it, which was much harder than I’d expected. I’d gotten rather comfortable relying on what the eyes were doing to give the emotion of the story.
It finally came to me. In my life, more than anything else about a person, I notice their eyes. More than hair color, style, clothing, anything. You can tell a lot about a person by reading their eyes and I’ve watched people for as long as I can remember. I can probably tell you the eye color of, and what my friend’s do with, their eyes depending on their mood. However, I might not notice other actions as readily. I’ve had to learn in the last few months to search my memories, picture my characters within the story, not just their faces up close and personal.
I was so face-focused that when I started writing, that was the easiest place to start and now it’s become part of my voice. While I know I need to keep it in check to propel my stories, it’s something I struggled with because so much of how I relate to people takes place at eye level.
It took over a week to do the rewrites on To Honor and Cherish, but I’m so proud of it now. The story is much better and everything is so much more clear. It’s the story I wanted to tell, but didn’t have the skill yet. Between the guidance of my editor and what I’ve learned, we whipped that book into shape.
While you’re still going to get some “eye” candy in my stories, I can assure you, it’s much less than before. I’m pretty sure my editor would throw me over a cliff if I didn’t.