I want to pitch that book across the room. Not the best practice these days with over half my reading being done on an eReader, LOL. However, it does result in my not finishing the book more often than not. It also makes me less likely to buy that author again.
Is it subject?
An established author, one I trust to see me to the end of the journey, can and has escorted me across many a line I thought firmly drawn. I’m looking at you Joely and Sloan :D
For example, I generally have zero tolerance for cheating spouses. Yet, Elena Aiken has a character do just that in Drawing Free. Did I agree with the character’s decision? No. Did I understand it? Yes. I know a little harmless flirting has uplifted my self-confidence, made me walk a little taller, feel a little sexier. I suspect most of us can relate to that.
On the other hand, another author, a first time read for me, has lost me. Her hero gets amnesia and ends up having an affair. I’m not even sure I can call it an affair, LOL. Anyway, amnesia…I should be able to forgive him, right?
Does that mean gender makes a difference?
Well, I do like my heroes to be perfect, or perfectly flawed with the ability to become more with the heroine’s love. But, no, I don’t think the sex of the character has much to do with it, as long as the character STAYS in character.
Back to the amnesic hero, if the ‘affair’ happened off the page, I probably would have forgiven him. I mean, he didn’t remember much beyond his name, didn’t know he had a wife waiting for him, or that the villain of the story was making her life miserable as only a great bad guy can do.
As it was, it felt like the author tried to fit some erotica into a mainstream historical romance. Those scenes were not needed to move the story forward. We have the heroine’s POV. Readers felt the tension build the longer the hero was missing, feared dead.
So is it craft?
Kait Nolan has a wonderful scene questionnaire. Type A that she is (hey, she admits this), she completes it before writing a word. Me, I like to use it for revisions/edits. In it she says every scene must do three things.
Which of the following does the scene accomplish?
____ (G) Dramatically illustrate a character’s progress toward the goal or provide an experience which changes a character’s goal.
____ (M) Provide a character with an experience that strengthens his motivation or changes his motivation.
____ (C) Bring a character into conflict with opposing forces.
It can, of course accomplish all three, but minimally must accomplish at least one. This point gives me the broad goal of the scene.
What are the three reasons for the scene?
Now one of my three reasons for the scene can be answering the GMC *** question above. But I must have at least 3 total reasons for the scene to be included and make the cut. Why three? Well, if I remember correctly, I think Dixon says something about it in her book, but mostly it’s because I think of something having three points as being stable. If I can come up with three reasons, then more than likely I won’t have to axe the scene later.
I think she has a point about three points being stable. It’s no wonder three-legged stools have been around forever. (And the image analogies using them…wow.)
But I digress.
Do you have a hard limit where characters are concerned? What do you do when characters cross the line?
*** Kait references: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, one of my recommended reads.