Editing Rant: Choose the Moment

Wrong place, wrong time

Acquired from the Internet Hive Mind

There is a Time and Place for Everything

Use of adverbs to describe timing was covered in the last Editing Rant

This Rant is on WHEN things happen in a plot. I’m talking about Content Editing/Macro issues, instead of my normal Line Editing issues. Why do writers put inappropriate actions during a ticking clock scenario? I’ve run into this predicament multiple times in eroticas and romances.


Example one: Family member has been injected with (a silver) poison and has less than a day left. The shape-shifting couple doesn’t even know where the person who has the antidote lives. What happens next? You would think internet searches, contacting friends, getting the police involved, taking the family member to the hospital? Nope, sex which results in an argument and the couple, after a physical battle since werewolf’s emotions often result in physical battles, end up in totally different parts of town after she throws him through the window and runs off. Half a day later they make up and THEN they start looking for the person who has the antidote.


Acquired from the Internet Hive Mind

Example two: Trained military personnel, crossing jungle terrain to attack a compound, get separated from the main group during an ambush. While catching up with the others, the couple gets overwhelmed with thinking this may be “the last time” and stop to have sex. During a military operation, after they have fallen behind their group, on a rescue of civilians, with a ticking clock of sunset. Best of the best military, hand-picked for their professionalism and abilities.

Acquired from the Internet Hive Mind

Example three: A superhero story (the one I am dealing with now). Repeat and rise – Ugh! One does not stop to have sex delaying rescue of loved ones WHO ARE BEING TORTURED TO DEATH and you know because the supervillain is broadcasting the pain via ESPer abilities. Maybe if the sex scene was moved directly in front of the discovery of family members needing rescue, but not after … even if the main character thinks this may be the last chance with the hottest babe/bod in existence. Anyone who is that selfish is not someone I can identify with or want to be around. I am guessing other readers might feel the same way as me, but how do I, as a line editor, tell the author this? I don’t. I can’t. It’s too late to change anything on the content level when it hits my desk.

Acquired from the Internet Hive Mind

Yes, eroticas and romances are about when couples get together and get it on, but they are also about how the couple stays apart. Romantic tension can go hand-in-hand with Thriller tension. It’s a personal favorite genre mix of mine; in fact, I love it more than the typical romantic tension builder of a spat between lovers driving them apart. Circumstance within the thriller can provide double duty of the ticking clock tension and “cock-blocking” tension. If a wedge needs to be driven between the couple to cool the sexual action while building the emotional connection, the action-ride of the thriller works wonders.

I think eroticas and romances are the worse offenders of killing a ticking clock with inappropriate actions, but I have seen other examples in mysteries and horror.

WRITING EXERCISE: Come up with a ticking clock scenario (hostages, parent dying in hospital, dinner burning in oven, etc.) for a character, then put him/her in a situation where they will be highly tempted to go off-track. Why or why don’t they act on the temptation? If they go off-track, should the ticking clock explode?

READING EXERCISE: Think of a book which ignores a ticking clock situation to have an inappropriate action. Did it bother you? Why or why not?