Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To explain or not to explain

A gave my manuscript to a friend in Chicago to edit because he’s pretty good at the details. The novel is a historical thriller that takes place during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. If anyone reads this blog, they know I’m from the Crescent City and all of my novels take place there.

So, I try to incorporate the customs and character that makes New Orleans special to me, like sno-balls, crawfish boils, coffee and chicory or saying hi to strangers you make eye contact with. And for the most part they are well received, but my friend pointed out something in my manuscript that he didn’t think was believable.

Simply put, I have a sixteen-year-old female character who kisses a twenty-something year old family friend on the cheek – several times - since they end up linked together during the storm. He wrote down ‘I’m not buying it’ and ‘not believable.’

I told him that kissing good friends on the cheek hello and goodbye is perfectly normal in New Orleans and nothing is thought of it. He understood and told me I should write a few sentences explaining that and he is right. I'm assuming that the average America knows these things.

This gives me pause as to how much I should explain and if that would bog down the story. Like if I write ‘neutral ground,’ should I explain it’s the median between the streets or actually give its origin?

I think I’ll leave those questions hanging in the air until an editor tells me they don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

P.S. New Orleans natives don’t call their city The Big Easy.

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