Life is full of surprises, like discovering that someone you were communicating with was having a totally different conversation.
When Fogel stated in her crit of In a Country Burning that there were, “Too many shoulders in this novel,” I took the comment as metaphorical. I thought she meant that there were too many characters. This lead to a decision to cut four characters, which also cuts the length of the novel quite a bit.
Here’s the big surprise. It turns out that Fogel literally meant “too many shoulders.” Too many people were patted on the shoulder, too many people shouldered their back packs, too many shrugged their shoulders. She was trying to get me to use other body parts occasionally in my descriptions, which is good advice.
Yet now that we’ve cleared that up, I have no intention of putting the love interest and her family back into the novel. It works without them. It’s shorter. It’s better.
So I’m sorry Rachel, Clare, Hugh and the collateral damage, Richard. You guys will have to find a different novel, maybe in a sequel.