Thursday, June 10, 2010

What I learned from R G Alexander's REGINA IN THE SUN

Note: As a wannabe writer, I read books to learn from published writers. Sometimes I learn from the writer's talent, sometimes I learn from their mistakes. However, I never forget this reality: they are published and I am not.

The Story
The story opens up in a small English town in the dead of night. The feeling is that of old, old England as Reggie runs to Sanctuary. We learn that she is "Unborn": a vampire made, not born and so, therefore, unwanted. She runs to a man, Lux Sariel, who leads the Truebloods - vampires born and so, therefore, the good guys. Lux gives Reggie sanctuary and makes her his mate. Lux calls together all of the vampire clans to address the rising of a serious group of bad guys: The Shadow Wolves. However, not all of the vamps see the Shadow Wolves as bad and side with them in a showdown between both sides.

Thoughts as a Reader
I thought this book a period novel in the initial pages: that caught my attention and hooked my interest. The images of Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes came to a jarring halt when I realized several pages in that this was actually a modern day story. Would have loved it as a period piece...

As a reader, I liked the idea of vamps being born, not made and I enjoyed the element of prejudice against those that are created. This element of prejudice brings a complexity to the story. Unfortunately, Alexander never really develops the element and opts for a tidy resolution, of sorts.

I believe Alexander initially wrote this as a simple paranormal romance, but sent the book into the realm of erotica with a jarring inclusion of a sex scene witnessed by Reggie. I'm ok with the idea of erotica, but felt "ewy" at the thought that Reggie sat and watched three people have sex. That's not ok. Ick.

Thoughts as a Writer
Lesson learned? From Alexander's writing, I learned to limit characters. In the opening pages of the novel, Reggie's thoughts introduce too many minor characters and they just keep piling up as the book goes on. Most don't move the story forward and, in the climatic scene, they muddy the waters and confuse the heck out of me as I struggle to remember who is who.

As I write my current story, I plot out ever scene. I write a summary of the scene, it's purpose to the overall story and then identify who appears. Every person who appears - or mentioned - must add to the scene AND the overall story. I must put my finger on every person in a scene and say "he enables the hero to do this" or "she represents the reader's perspective". If I can't identify their purpose, out they go.

As a result of reading REGINA IN THE SUN, I halted my writing to go back and plot out each scene thoroughly, identify superfluous characters, and tighten my story. Thanks, RG Alexander.


  1. You're welcome. Always good to get a different perspective. :)

  2. I like your other works much, much better....I'm currently reading MY SHIFTER SHOWMANCE. I love your humor in this book and your style is much tighter.

    I'm sure there's something I can learn from this, as well...

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