Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Jane Austen had it Easy II

And another thing Jane Austen didn't have to contend with was keeping her hero and heroine from jumping into bed with each other. Let's face it, most people when they meet someone they like, they kiss pretty soon and if that seems satisfactory, take it further. I'm not suggesting that we all telescope those steps into the course of an evening but there's nothing to stop us doing that if we choose. And then we split up or stay together.

This makes problems for anyone writing romance. Your main characters meet early on, ideally in the first chapter, and then you have to contrive to keep them being attracted to each other while at the same time not developing their relationship. It can be done, but it's much harder when there isn't a reason such as social etiquette, religion, race or class keeping them apart.

With Nice Girls Do, the original version didn't have Will and Anna making love. This was partly because it didn't fit in with the story as it was, and also I had qualms about having Anna - who had so enthusiastically shagged Oliver at the beginning of the novel - sleeping with another man a few hundred pages along, even if he was The One for her. She was a Nice Girl, after all.

My editor said that they had to make love. In her opinion, Anna was an experienced woman, not a timid virgin and it would be unbelievable for Anna to be so in love with a man she hadn't slept with. So I re-wrote the ending, and the book IS better for it but it caused me all sorts of logistical problems that Ms Jane Austen didn't have to deal with, from the mechanics of providing a comfortable location for the event to how to make it plausible that they wouldn't come together relationship-wise until the last page.

Life might be easier now we're more relaxed about these things, but not necessarily for writers.

If anyone is near Chipping Sodbury on Thursday evening, I'm speaking at the library at 7.30pm, click here for further details. I'd love to see some friendly faces. Or any faces, for that matter.

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