Friday, January 8, 2010

My Husband, My Virgin

Well, not any more.

This week I had the novel experience of having my non-romance-reading husband read one of my works-in-progress (WIPs).

I resisted this, and so did he. But in the end, it was a smart move. Because he wasn't expecting any specific genre conventions, because he doesn't have any professional need to keep me happy, because he has a personal (and financial) investment in my success AND because he's a hyper-logical-critical-analytical sciency dude, he brought sharp eyes, a sharp mind and a new vision to the book.

"Why is she doing leaving the house to go to the graveyard?" he asks.

"Because the epic battle HAS to happen there," I explain.

"Yeah, but SHE doesn't know that."

And it goes on . . .

"Did you realize you left this typo on page 6? And this one on page 25? And this one on page 33?"

"Shut up," I reply, and get out the orange pen.

"Why does she get up in the hero's face about this painting?" he asks.

"I explain that later."

"Oh yeah? Well I'm confused right now."

And Mr. Smartypants is correct: If he is confused, if anything I write throws him out of the story, it's my problem and I need to correct it.

After all, someday soon, some gal's gonna be laying on a lawn chair with my book in one hand and a margarita in another. She'll have her eye on that volleyball game at the other end of the Lido Deck. If my words don't flow seamlessly from my page to her brain in the first (and probably only) read, she will put that paperback down (cracking the spine) and watch the game. She might pull it out again for the plane ride, or she might not.

One chance. That's all we really get until we're La Nora or La Christina or La Susan or La Jenny. These authors have a loyal (and more forgiving) fan base--as opposed to the Virgin Reader, who is much less tolerant of plot holes (even if she doesn't know the phrase), rambling prose, and who will lose respect for us as authors if we forget the "l" in public.

Until I achieve La-Hood, I do, at least, get to cuddle up with my Hawt Virgin. And my orange pen.


  1. I have yet to let my husband read any of my work. You are right, they get to see what takes us away from them fours hours a week. I might have to change my mind because your husband is right. Just like a reader if he doesn't understand or question, then the reader won't. We do because we have lived it over and over in our head.

    I also commented on your last post earlier in the week and it wouldn't save. I will leave it here. I like your top errr...9, 10! It is really good start to goals.

  2. You are a brave, brave soul! The only person within my family that I would let read my WIP is my sil because she reads romance. My CP doesn't get to read much of my stuff either. I tend to keep things close to me. I must get better at this.

    We all dream of La Hood-ness!


  3. At least your husband reads your work. My husband is somewhat opposed to throwing himself into the literary minefield that is romantic fiction where heroes with names like Sebastian and heroines with names like Clarissa rein. I imagine at some point I will be able to convince him, but it will take an act of God and the hiring of an agent.

  4. Trust me, Santa and Jen, this was not an automatic for us. The MS sat for months on his side of the dresser, until I finally had to print a new one to keep up with the revisions. He said, "I guess I oughta read this," and I said, "Yeah, I guess." It was definitely a dip-your-toe-in process.

  5. I don't let hubs read my stuff. He "helped" me with my dissertation. Let's just say that we have totally different voices. LOL

    Eloisa James wrote about the time she let her hubs read her WIP. He cut out a ten page love scene by writing...He Kissed her. LOL LOL LOL She said never again.

  6. Yeah, Hubby hasn't read my work yet either, but that's as much my hesitation as his. He is, however, an awesome, awesome resource for brainstorming plot points and I depend on him for that. Funny that he hasn't read the results of his help, though! Eventually I'll have to let him cuz I'll need his help with editing!

  7. My husband isn't much of a reader, in any genre, but, like Embee, he has been a great sounding board for ideas and directions for my stories to take. He also helps with research, and I don't mean just the sex. I have a scene where a guy wraps his arms around the heroine, pinning her arms against her side so she can't get away. I had no clue if that would really work, so my hubby and I tried it out. It was comical, but helped me describe the scene in greater detail.

  8. LOL That is an awesome, little story. I have THE hardest time letting husband read anything of mine. He's read one of my short stories and that is it. I think I'm more nervous about what he thinks than anyone else.

  9. Embee--it was a big step! I actually HATE bouncing ideas off of him before the draft is done, because he goes in such wildly different directions and I have to keep saying, "this is a ROMANCE, not ALIENS."
    Tina--one of these days, I swear I'm going to say, "Freeze--right there. That thing you're doing? I need to make a note of it."
    Crystal--I totally get that, but I've decided that if this is going to work in the long haul, I have to TRAIN him to be supportive. There are times when you just have to say, "tell me what you liked and don't say anything else." Unless, of course, you need editing.

  10. My husband's virgin read was my Christmas story, which -- thank God -- he LOVED. He's a big softie, and he likes the tear-jerker-type stories.

    When I gave him the first scene of one of my romantic suspense stories, he looked uncomfortable. "This is, uh, kind of titillating," says he. YA THINK??

    So, considering that was a murder scene and NOT a sex scene, I'm guessing he won't be reading my hot stuff. But he just might like the romantic scenes.

    I still remember the first time I saw Gia Dawn and her husband at Lori Foster a couple years ago. He was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Read my wife's books so I can retire." Or something like that.

    I told my husband about it, and he loved it. He is pretty supportive, but I think it's retirement he has in mind. I don't want to break his bubble, but I don't think he'd better quit just yet.

  11. Becke,
    What is this "retirement" of which you speak?

  12. Keri, Cute post. Men do approach things differently, and that difference can provide good insights, if we can get them to talk to us. I had one crit experience in a writing seminar where at times the comments being made could be separated by gender. All the guys thought one thing, all the gals another. Fascinating to observe. Ann

  13. It does make you wonder if there is ANY crossover appeal for romance, doesn't it, Ann?

  14. I am late to the party, but I finally got to this gem and I applaud you, Keri. I don't think I could survive my husband reading my stuff. Oh GAW! Especially my erotic novella. Part of me wants him to, badly. But the other part wants to keep it from him. Don't ask, I can't explain it.

    My sisters, who are into Kresley Cole and other paranormal romances, did read my paranormal WIP and they LOVED it. They weren't as virgin as your husband, but it was still a reader's perspective.

    I'm happy I had the courage to get them to do it. Although, I still cringe thinking about my older sissies, the sissies who helped raise me-- the oops baby my parents had late in life-- reading the steamy sex scenes.

    Maybe someday the DH will read one of my stories, but I'm content knowing if I needed him to, he would.

  15. Ro,
    I don't care if I achieve La-Hood, my baby brother will NEVER read my sex scenes. He will get autographed copies with the pages glued together, and post-it notes summarizing the relevant plot changes/personal growth moments within the glued pages. As will my father.

  16. My baby brother has actually read some of mine. He manages a book store and is a pretty big reader. He asked to see one of my stories, which was, unfortunately, in early stages. He liked it enough to give it to an author friend who, despite the raw form of the story, wrote to me encouragingly.

    And my darling daughter, whose college professor urged her to pursue a career in editing, has critiqued my stuff. Yeah. All those hot scenes. However, since she is a too-much-information kid, I feel it's only fair that she should have to suffer, too.

    Now, my sister? Never gonna happen.

  17. That's awesome! Everybody needs a reader like your husband in their lives. It's great that he'll be straight forward and tell you what needs fixing!

  18. Hi Zoe,
    Normally I'd agree with you, but right now I'm trying to FIX all of those problems he identified and I wish I still lived in blissful ignorance!

  19. hahaha NAH! Don't say that! Just think how much more brilliant you'll look to the end reader. :D My motto is: "Tell me how much I rock AFTER it's in print, before I want you to rip it apart and make me cry."