Monday, June 01, 2009

Answering comments

So it's June. A brand new month. I've done my accounts (great relief) and the sun is shining. It shone all weekend too - while I was doing my accounts! So today I'm getting out into the warmth while it's still here and walking into town to have my hair cut.

But before I do I need to answer a couple of queries that came up in the comments section. I could have answered them there but they were a few days ago (sorry for being late on this) and one of themI thought other writers would want to know about.

So - the simple one first -

On the Cat Tales 2 post Linda commented:

Kate, she is beautiful. Her dad looks a great deal like my Maine Coon,
Justin. How much does Flora weigh and can you convert that to pounds for me
since I live in the States? Keep those cat stories coming. I love to hear about

Hi Linda! I love to hear about Justin too - he does sound a lot like Barney, Flora's Dad (how old is Justin?). Anyway it's taken me a few days to grab Madame Flora and weigh her - she's been out in the garden revelling in the sunshine while it's here. But this morning I managed it and she weighed in at 10.5 pounds.

The average weight of an adult cat is supposed to be about 9 -11 pounds but Maine Coon males can be over 18lbs, and females a bit under that. These cats don't reach full maturity until they are around four years old. Flora is just 18 months so she still has potential for growth! Most of this weight is bones and fur - there is very little flesh on her, and when you get hold of her, your hands go into all that fur so that you realise there's her ribs underneath.

It's going to be interesting to see how she fills out over the next year or so.
The second question I want to answer was on the post where Randall Toye described what makes a great series romance
Lorraine commented:
I have one question though - what was meant by 'payoff'?
To remind you - what Randall said was:
The key focus is a good story, well told. The basic building blocks? Character,
Structure, Pacing, Payoff. Easy to list. Not so easy to deliver. As one
author beautifully articulated: "Just because they're easy to read doesn't mean
they're easy to write!" Quite the opposite. The series romance, like a sonnet,
is a beautiful, disciplined, elegant, and demanding creative form.
Well, If you look up payoff in a dictionary you'll find:
noun 1. the payment of a salary, debt, wager, etc.
2. the time at which such payment is made.
3. the consequence, outcome, or final sequence in a series of events, actions, or circumstances: The payoff was when they fired him.
4. Informal. the climax of something, esp. a story or joke.
5. a settlement or reckoning, as in retribution or reward.
6. Informal. a bribe.
Obviously number 4 is what we're looking at here.
Now I'll admit, I don't think in terms of a 'payoff' for my books - or, rather, I don't think about it now. Long ago - back in 1982 - I received a rejection letter on one of my first submissions to to Mills & Boon and this commented that though they enjoyed my story it 'lacked emotional velocity and failed to reach an emotional climax' - in other words, the 'your story lacks emotional punch' criticism that so many writers get.
And from then on, writing 'an emotional climax' is what I've always aimed to do. That's the 'payoff' - it's what the reader is looking for. 'Pay off' is more a marketing term, rather than a writer's word. It's the same as when they ask authors 'what is the takeaway' from this book . ( Takeaway? Huh? I always want to answer 'number 42 with fried rice' )
But to me the payoff is the emotional climax. The point where the book 'peaks' so that it doesn't just fizzle out and end with a whimper. The point in the book when the reader gets the satisfaction from reading it and seeing the characters she has come to care about (we hope) resolve their conflict and turn towards the happy ever after ending. (At least that's what it is in romance.) So really 'payoff' is giving your reader satisfaction - the satisfaction they are looking for in the type of fiction you are writing.

The reader who buys a romance is looking for that emotional satisfaction and that's the payoff from a romance for me.

1 comment:

Lorraine said...

Thank you Kate, that's really helpful. I thought that was what it meant but wanted to check in case it was something vital I hadn't thought of!


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