Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Writing Contemporary Womens Novels

For those of you who read or write comtemporary womens novels, I have a question.

At some point in my story, my protagonist has to discover her friend is having an affair with my girl's husband. My problem is where abouts in the book this should happen.

When I watch a TV drama with this kind of story line, I quite like knowing what's going on before the heroine finds out. But in a book written in the third person, this is harder to do as I really only have the protagonist's POV.

As the antagonist is really more the emotional situation - a marriage breakup in the first chapter - can I leave this 'discovery' to later? And - how could I let the reader in on it without being omniscient? A few lines of prologue before the relevant chapter?

I should write it and see? I thought you might say that. I guess I just wanted a quick solution.

I would still be most grateful for your thoughts or ideas.


Flowerpot said...

My first question is to ask what knock on effects this has on the rest of the plot? Without knowing more about the overall plot it's difficult to say...

Karen said...

This is happening in mine, although it's a GOOD thing as it turns out(!) but although it's only being revealed now, over two thirds through, I've been dropping subtle hints throughout to give the reader a clue - but not the heroine.

Like Flowepot says though, out of context it's tricky to advise exactly. Is it a close friend and would it affect their friendship too? etc. If you revealed it immediately - but the heroine didn't know - it would rack up the tension as the reader would be willing her to find out.

See? No help at all! Good luck though :o)

Fia said...

Flowerpot - if I did drop it in early, I think it might change the plot too much. Now why didn't I think of that. Thank you.

Karen - I had been think of the subtle hints approach but was worried that my hints would be either too subtle or hitting reader over head hint. I'm thinking, perfume, a hair on a shirt...Or, do I want it to be a complete shock to the reader? Probably not as readers usually like to work ahead of some of the plot to some degree.

Even with sensible, helpful answers, I'm still torn. But if I have any more plot post it notes on the wall, I'll go mad(er).

Debs said...

I suppose you could have her suspecting her husband ie showering at different times, strange phone calls, new aftershave, and have her tell herself she's being paranoid, or something like that.

Rowan Coleman said...

Hi all,

As ever this is a very personal thing but I'd say later is better if this is the main crux of your plot, if what happens to her after the reveal is where its really at then earlier is better, gives you more time to explore the aftermath. I'm a fan of subtle hints, but they work best I think if they reader only gets that they are hints after the reveal, so they can say -'OH that's what that was all about' This is hard to pull off, I find it tricky. Also you've got to watch you're not 'telegraphing' ie telling where the plot is going without realising it. As you are writing in 3rd person of course you can let your reader be in on it from the start if you like, without having to let your main character in on it. it depends on how much tension you want in the plot, or rather what kind of tension. Is the reader wondering what is happening or is the reader wondering what will happen when it all hits the fan?

Not sure that is at all helpful, but still!

Fia said...

Thanks Debs and Rowan,

When my character's husband leaves her she thinks it's the PTS he's been suffering since serving in Bosnia. The woman he's actually left her for, befriends her, enjoying the feeling of power.
I was thinking of having the 'reveal' in the last third of the book. I like the idea of hints so subtle, the reader realises after the event that they were there.

Thank you ladies:)

KayJay said...

Ooh, I quite like the idea of us knowing what the Other Woman is doing with enough time to enjoy feeling suitably outraged with her. But there are so many possibilities!

I would definitely say very subtle hints - very difficult to do, a hair or perfume is too much, I think, unless you tie it into your character's paranoia.

As others have already said, ultimately it depends where you want the focus to lie, ie what is this book about? Sometimes you don't know that until you write it, 'tis true!

Captain Black said...

Thanks for all the tips, ladies. I am stealing them all!

Fia said...

KayJay - I think I might write two or three scenes of different scenarios on index cards, put the surrounding scenes on the floor and mix them about until I find - I hope - a way that works well.

KeVin K. said...

Don't hit your readers over the head with clues. Respect their intelligence. And don't have your girl wondering about strange perfumes or random hairs.
Phone call "Hi, honey, I'm not at the office. They've got me out in the field inspecting such-and-such. I'll be home late." Something perfectly reasonable in the course of their lives. Maye she can appreciate the fact that after years of her being after him about it, he's started taking better care of how professional he looks or has finally started exercising to do something about that spreading middle. Things which she will think are positives until the reveal at which point she and the reader will realize were clues all along.

Fia said...

Good points, KeVin, thank you.