In re-reading Heartless, I realize one very HUGE thing.
I am not the same person I was when I wrote this.
It's a strange realization. This is my most popular novel, by far my bestseller. It features an emotionally battered man, a man who believes he's just as terrible as rumor suggests. And in that opinion, he's almost correct. In Hart's characterization, I think he's the same he could ever be. He is what he is.
The story execution is another matter entirely. There are things I would change, sentence structures that could be reworded to offer so much more impact, over usage of other words or types of words that make some scenes feel steeped in redundancy. I have learned so much since I first put this story out there.
And more than one person pointed out the excessive characters. OK, I had a point in placing that many characters in this story. Ever feel completely alone in a crowded room? Welcome to Leandra's world.
However, I think I realize WHY the extra characters feel so...cluttered...to some readers.
I used an excessive amount of names to describe these people. One character in particular, having only two lines in a single scene, is described by her title, her relationship to the hero, and by her first name which, quite frankly, is totally unnecessary. Added to that, I kept referring to the heroine as Leandra, the duchess, her grace, and a few other things that almost made it sound like she was more than just one person. Sheesh.
Names are not always necessary, at least not in the final draft. In notes, sure. It helps the author keep track. The reader, however, doesn't need that info. So, I think I have a fix for the "excessive characters" problem.
Unnecessary names will be removed. I don't think we need to know the first name as well as the title of a character who has one scene and only two lines in that scene. I think title and relationship to the hero/heroine will be sufficient...and sometimes not even that is necessary.
But what of the MAJOR issues? I know there are some. How could there not be? I self-published this title back in 2008 (I wrote it in 2004) and made the same mistake many other self-pubbed authors did. I jumped the gun.
I considered making some major changes but fans have indicated their displeasure at the idea. Perhaps this is one of those only-make-the-changes-the-publisher-suggests situations.
While I respect all the opinions I've received on this matter, my gut is telling me not to make any story altering changes, even if some of those changes would make more sense. I don't know. What do you think?