The novel is shaping up nicely. I’m about half-way through the polish, and there are times when it reads as smooth as glass. That means a reader likely won’t be able to put it down. I’m worried about the beginning however. I’d had a number of readers, and a friend who reads two-character novels, complain that I introduced too many people in the first chapter of Dark Angels.
That comment amazed me. Number 1, I thought it was great fun to meet the rowdy, raucous mix that was Charles II’s court and that was Alice’s mileau. Number 2, there is no test to take after reading a first chapter. I will reintroduce the important characters I need to make the story, and you’ll get familiar with them as the story unfolds. Anyway, this is mulling around in the back of my mind as I polish (which means cut, smooth out, delete, write new things that make the reading slick) because I do believe people are reading differently, with less patience, and the inherent problem with an historical novel is that a writer has to set up the background so the reader understands the world he or she is entering, and that can’t be done in a quick paragraph or two. Or at least I can’t do it.
Anyway, at first I thought I would call the novel French Kiss, a play on its having a hugely important figure in French history as the main character, and the idea of that kind of kiss, and the idea of kiss off. But then I decided guys wouldn’t read a novel called that. So I’m been going with King. Straightforward, a strong word. I’m also toying with The King’s Son and The Sun King. I’m letting it stew as I worry about too many characters in the beginning and cut and paste and write and rewrite my way to an ending to this chapter of my writing life, a fourth novel.
There will be another chapter once it goes to my agent. But that’s another story.