On Editing and Change

By cj petterson, author of Deadly Star

Deadly StarI’m excited to be able to be able to blog here today about my first romance novel, Deadly Star, a romantic suspense out today from Crimson Romance!

For me, writing this story, writing any story for that matter, is all about editing and change—once you get through the concept and research stage, of course. Sometimes, I see a “need” to change a character’s name, a story thread, a sentence structure, or, as is true for Deadly Star, the whole genre.

Deadly Star didn’t start off as a romance. Over the years’ long course of writing and editing the manuscript, one of my critique partners thought the story might be marketed as an action/adventure … another said it was a woman-in-peril … a third one said it’s a political thriller. Someone even floated the idea it was sci fi (it isn’t).

When I recklessly entered excerpts of the manuscript into two romance contests, the judges in each thought the concept and the story were good—except it needed a happily ever after ending. (One judge wrote on her evaluation sheet that she felt like throwing the pages against the wall when she got to the end!) That forced me to take another long look at what I had written. I decided it could, indeed, work as a romantic suspense novel if I made a change, or three, or four within the manuscript and, of course, changed the ending.

Crimson Romance offered me a contract about three weeks after I first submitted my e-query and synopsis, and I knew I’d stumbled (been pushed) into the correct genre.

Today’s romance fans, I think, like to see their heroines as more life-like and a little flawed, someone they can relate to and also, perhaps, admire from afar. On the other hand, they still seem to expect their heroes to be nigh-unto perfect. Check out the cover art of many romance novels, and you’ll see what I mean.

Deadly Star is not about a perfectly imperfect woman or a perfectly perfect man. It’s about a vaguely dysfunctional couple who, when sharing an imminent danger, find common ground in their love for each other.

Mirabel Campbell, the protagonist, is a little flawed—she’s no longer a svelte twenty-something, no longer gaga in love with a husband, hasn’t been in a real relationship for a long time, and is a bit of a nerd. But she’s also sassy, clever, loyal, and determined.

Robert O’Sullivan, known to everyone as Sully, is an exciting hero, a ruggedly handsome CIA agent assigned to protect Mirabel. On the flip side, he’s a bit of a bad boy, a controller, and a liar.

The connection these two disparate people share in the beginning of Deadly Star is Mirabel’s accidental sighting of a secret government satellite and the fact that they were once married…to each other.

In Deadly Star, Mirabel and Sully rediscover their love in the midst of a story about awesome 21st Century technology and international political gangsterism—where a sociopath’s money can build a bioweapon, buy a friend’s loyalty, and hire an assassin. I hope the reader will find that as enjoyable to read as I did to write.

Do you love romances about realistic, flawed characters too? Share in the comments!