Here’s something from Into the Wilderness that I would rewrite if I could:
They paused, both breathing hard, like statues in the moonlight. Kitty’s clothing was disturbed; a white breast glinted between the edges of the bodice she clutched in one hand. Her loosened hair hung in frowzy ropes to her waist. Her complexion was gray, but her eyes glittered.
The ‘statues in the moonlight’ thing irks me, far too cliched. I’m uneasy with the glittering eyes (but maybe that has to do with my current study of eyes in print). But worst of all: the bodice she’s clutching in one hand.
Okay, so the detail is historically correct. But it’s a bodice. A bodice, and I’m always telling people that I don’t write bodice rippers (that is, books full of sex scenes that are there for no other reason than to arouse, rather than to move characterization or story along). And here’s Kitty, clutching her bodice. Yikes.
On another front: the hardest thing about writing a series is the constant challenge of bringing new readers along for the ride without confusing them too greatly, and at the same time, not boring everybody whose been on board since the beginning. I’m at that point in the fifth volume where readers will need some background on the village, but I hate recapping. Wendy (my editor) says, people will be confused, to which I want to say, well hell, let them go read the first four volumes, right?
Now she’s wondering about a foreword for the fourth novel, in which the Author Recaps formally and thus saves the uninitiated reader from having to go read the first three. Stephen King did this in the new editions of his Gunslinger books — there’s an introduction that tells you what happens in one, two, and three if you happen to pick up four first.
Does this sound like a good idea?