Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘contemporary women’s fiction’

Toni Morrison explained, “I wrote the novel I wanted to read.” And I did the same thing when I wrote Dance For A Dead Princess. Here’s why:

Jane Eyre, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite novels. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it. And I’m not alone. It is so popular that other authors have tried to replicate its magic in books like Jean Rhys’ Wide Saragaso Sea, or Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree, or fairly recently, The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey.  And now me, in Dance for a Dead Princess.

I was nostalgically wishing for another Jane Eyre experience over the weekend, as I was hunting for a book I really wanted to read. As I surveyed the offerings and was disappointed, I began to imagine what a modern day literary agent would say about Jayne Eyre:

From the Desk of the World’s Most Important Literary Agent to Miss Charlotte Bronte:

Dear Miss Bronte,

Thank you for the opportunity to consider the manuscript of your novel, Jane Eyre. Unfortunately, I am unable to represent it at this time. Some words of wisdom if you decided to submit it elsewhere: your story is definitely not a Romance Novel. If you are unwilling to make changes in the present draft, you should look for an agent who specializes in Contemporary Women’s Fiction or Mystery.

That said, you do have a very promising, if flawed, story here. With some changes, you could have a bestseller on your hands. (And I’d love the commission I’d earn from representing it.) To that end, and our mutual financial benefit, some suggestions. First, sex sells. Historical and contemporary romances have to be hot, hot, hot. I realize you’ve devised quite an ingenious plot line here, and Jane and Mr. Rochester (really, Miss Bronte, a romance novel hero called Mr. Rochester and not Trevor, Tray, or Brandon?) are quite convincingly in love by the time of their ill-fated marriage attempt. But they only TALK to each other. Where are the smoldering sex scenes? Jane never once mentions Mr. Rochester’s six-pack abs (I assume he has them, yes?), or his alpha male swagger (he is an alpha male, right?) and, for all the times he meets Jane in the lane he never once cops even the tiniest little feel. (On second thought, since he never gets her in the sack, he can’t be an alpha male, therefore he can’t be a Romance hero.)

And then there is Jane, herself. Really, Miss Bronte, Romance heroines are not “plain.” After all, when your book hits the big screen, which big name actress is going to want the role of a “plain” heroine? Jane should have masses of chestnut hair, down to her waist that Edward (or better yet, Trevor, Tray or Brandon) can bury his face in at the, ah, appropriate moment. In addition, a regulation Romance heroine must also be equipped with (at a minimum) an exquisite heart-shaped face, a perfect cupid’s bow of a mouth, and flashing dark eyes.

Your book, Miss Bronte, is all PLOT and no SEX. And it begins with Jane’s dreary life in an orphanage when it should start with Mr. Rochester undressing Jane in his imagination the moment he meets her at Thornfield Hall. I realize you must have taken a Creative Writing course in which some dreary professor taught you all about character, plot, voice, and point of view. But when it comes to writing a best selling Romance Novel, throw out all that Literary Stuff. Sex, Sex, Sex, sells. That’s all you need to know.  The only PLOT you need is how to get from one sex scene to another.

Here are some suggestions, then, for transforming Jane Eyre from its current status as a Romance novel loser to a New York Times bestseller. Plot: As soon as Mr. Rochester meets Jane, he asks her to enter to a “pretend” marriage to keep the unwanted attentions of Blanche Ingram at bay. Soon their “marriage” is anything but pretend, yet Mr. Rochester is still engaged to Blanche.

Or you could take a leaf from E.L. James and Syliva Day and install Mr. Rochester in his own “red room” at Thornfield where he and Blanche teach the virginal Jane all about sex, sex, sex. Terrified, she flees to her cousin St. John (horrible name, by the way for a Romance novel sub-hero) only to be pursued by Mr. Rochester and taken back for her well-deserved punishment.  At the end, she falls in love with Mr. Rochester (Trevor, Tray or Brandon) or at least she’s in love with his millions.

Or finally, if you don’t like either of those plot ideas, instead of fleeing an orphanage, Jane should flee from an abusive first husband. Through sex, sex, sex, Mr. Rochester teaches her to TRUST again; and now armed with CONFIDENCE  in herself, she becomes a millionaire when representatives of Betty Crocker discover her tea shop in the village and purchase her secret recipe for blueberry scones.

Any of these plots and some really hot, hot, sex scenes would rocket your manuscript straight to the top. Otherwise, you might self-publish and sell a few copies to friends and relatives.

Sorry to send disappointing news, Miss Bronte.

Wishing you all the best,

The World’s Most Important (And Infallible) Literary Agent

A "plain" heroine, Miss Bronte, really?

A “plain” heroine, Miss Bronte, really?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: