She was a ballerina, but the book is about betrayal
Because the kidnap victim, who has had different names in the various versions of this story, was a ballet protege, I thought something about dancing had to be in the title, when the reality is that it is a story of multiple betrayals. The element of dance weaves through all of the real events that inspired this story, but after years of wrestling with it to get just the right balance and writing technique, I finally realized there was no need to highlight “dance” in the title.
Sadly, my first attempt back in the early 90s was that of an amateur when it came to writing fiction. For one thing, coming from the world of magazine and newspaper articles, I had the tendency to do lots of “information dumps”–in case you are not familiar with that term it refers to big blocks of information contained within a paragraph or several paragraphs like a litany of facts.
That’s what you often do when trying to fit a lot of information into the limited space allotted for articles, but as I learned the hard way, it doesn’t work for fiction. When writing fiction you have to dole out the information in appropriate places.
Because it was imperative to write in first person to grab the drama of the scenes, I later learned I should have used dialogue and other devices to inform the reader of back story or things Laurel Murphy couldn’t see but were critical to the action. However, like most novices, I didn’t realize how many mistakes I was making. Hey, I was a published writer, right?
One of the lessons learned the hard way was to understand your genre before crafting the story. I hadn’t done that.
I also thought you had to have a massive book to get published, so my manuscript was over 200,000 words. When, after a few years of working on it, I typed that last line and breathed a sigh of accomplishment, deep in my heart I knew I’d written a best seller.
Then came the crash to the ground and to reality. I’d written a big, thick book that would never get published, but I was so confident it was great I asked a friend who had written some best selling thrillers to read it and give me his opinion. He was brutally frank.
More about this in the next post.