You've Got Some 'Splaining to Do!

So, I've been editing my MG Elfpunk, trimming words and incorporating all the great feedback I got from my awesome agent. 

One of the things I'm having to do is explain things more. 

You see, the MC is a dancer--and not a ballet dancer, but a specialized folk dancer. 

Me, having danced for over a decade and competed, know exactly what I mean when I say "both feet in time for Tuesday" or bat around words not in English. 

My beta readers, being dancers, understood.

My agent didn't.

Ding, ding, ding. 

Most people aren't going to understand. 

That means I need to go back through the dance scenes and take a little more time to explain things, while not info dumping, and making it interesting...and while cutting as close to 10k as I can.

Yeah, not easy. 

But it's going to make a better story.  After all, who wants to read about something they don't understand.  The book isn't all about dance, but it is an important part of her life, and will remain present throughout the series. 

So, when writing about something that the average person doesn't know about, take a step back and go...hmmm...would the average person know this?  Should I add a few words to explain, maybe use a different term (even if it's not the exact proper term).  Do people really need to know this or can I just cut this whole reference out?  Is this a joke only people involve with get and will it alienate other readers (or pull them out of the story) if I leave it in? 

I'm also going to add a glossary to explain terms and deal with all those Gaelic names my characters have. 

How do you deal with this issue?


Natalie Zaman said...

OK, so anyone who's run into me in the past week or so will know that I've been gushing about Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone--I was lucky enough to get an ARC at BEA and needless to say have been *IN LOVE*! In DoSaB, Taylor uses words that were new to me--but basically all she did was use the word--and then give a line to explain it. If she used it again, no need to go into it again--I knew what she was referring to. I had no idea what "feet in time for Tuesday" means (although I knew/know what ghillies are!)--but I can venture to guess, and I think that gives the story some flavor--I'd incorporate both if possible... Nat's two and a half cents :)

Suzanne Lazear said...

You rock, Nat.