Friday, July 17, 2009

Reflecting on The Best Man.

After finishing Rules of Engagement, I blogged to reflect on some of the unique challenges of that particular book. Those terribly exciting musings can be found here.

It's been a week or so since I finished The Best Man, and before I move on to Under My Skin, I'm going to pause to reflect in a similarly mesmerizing fashion that will, I'm sure, have you completely engrossed right to the end. Feel free to skip if you don't feel the need to be mesmerized. Or if you're my brother, who took one look at this and thought "tl;dr" and moved on. For those who are interested...onward:

The Best Man posed many of the same challenges as Rules of Engagement. It's also written in first person, and the main character/narrator is also a gay man (okay, technically the main character in Rules of Engagement was bi, but work with me here). Anyway, it was easier this time, since it wasn't entirely uncharted territory, but it's still a step out of my comfort zone. My biggest concern is sounding like a woman trying to write as a man. Which, of course, I am. The reader, however, shouldn't know that. The reader should completely forget that a woman was ever involved in the story, and feel like a man is telling the story. Not as easy as it sounds, but I like to think I've managed to do it.

The Best Man posed some other challenges, most of which I didn't expect until I actually started writing it (since I hadn't originally planned to outline it). I can't go into detail about it without giving away the story, particularly since one of my beta readers hasn't finished it yet and she reads my blog. That, and I don't like divulging story details publicly. So you'll just have to deal with my vague allusions to what happens...

Basically, there's an undercurrent of tension, something going on in the background that the main character is, for the most part, unaware of, until close to the end. So I'm trying to make sure the reader is catching on (without making it stupidly obvious) while still keeping the main character (who's telling the damned story) in the dark. There are three major conflicts, but the third - and arguably most important - is the aforementioned one that's happening mostly off-camera. So as the first two conflicts develop and are resolved center stage, the third is quietly building so that it can blow up after the other two are resolved. It's hard to explain, and even harder to write.

It amounts to dropping little hints, having things occur off-camera that don't necessarily add up in the main character's head but still set off red flags for the reader, etc. That was definitely the hardest part of writing this particular book, but I think I pulled it off. We shall see. Publishers and readers will be the ultimate judge of that.

So anyway, there you have it. Every book poses its own set of challenges, and I think it's safe to say that The Best Man was one of the more difficult books I've written. It's also, thus far, one of my favorites...tied for first with Rules of Engagement, strangely enough.

Tomorrow...Under My Skin resumes, now that it's finally outlined and I have a vague idea of how things are going to happen. Will it sink or swim? Won't know until it reaches that magic mark of 15,000. Stay tuned...


  1. TBM is the shizzle. You are also shizzlefied.

    As is RoE.


    *And some hugs*


  2. It worked. VERY well. Very, very well.