LESSON #12 IN REVISION
In the 2005 version of THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND, Prince George is introduced to the reader at seventeen like this:
At seventeen years old, Prince George had grown to his full height. He looked more like his dark-eyed, delicate featured mother than his father, yet he was known to lack the love of animals that had defined her. It was said he was kind to all who came his way, but no one seemed to know much of him at all, from what color he preferred to his favorite dinner, to a book or a dance he would leave all company to pursue.
When King Helm of Sarrey offered a betrothal to his daughter Beatrice, there seemed to be no question that George would do his duty.
In the 2006 version of THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND, like this:
At seventeen years old, Prince George was still not as tall as his father. In fact, he looked more like his dark-eyed, delicate-featured mother than his father in almost every way, yet he was known to lack the love of animals that had defined her. He rode a horse passably well, but not with his motherís passion. He was known to refuse point-blank the gift of any pet, from the grand offer of a green-collared rolluff brought all the way from the southern province of Jolla to the black tom-kitten handed him by a grubby peasant girl at the Autumn Moon Festival.
He was also known to exit a chamber directly when a traveling singer began any tale. He claimed it was because he had no taste for music, and those who had heard him play the lute when he was younger would not dispute it. They said it was a terrible sound, akin to the howlings of a wolf in the forest for a fallen mate. And they were very grateful the King had given him permission at last to give up the lute and learn drawing instead. Drawing was quiet, at least. And the Prince had a talent for it. He would not draw any of the ladies who asked him, nor scenes of the palace, but focused his attention on still-lifes and natural scenes sometimes painted solitarily from the window of his own bedchamber.
Those who served the Prince had never a bad word for him. They spoke easily of his kindness and generosity. And yet they did not think of him as a friend. They knew him, and yet if asked, not one of them would have been able to say what color tunic the Prince preferred of all of those in his wardrobe, or what his favorite feast food was.
Since the King had become ill more than a year before, George had begun to do much to keep the kingdom running smoothly. He worked well with his fatherís council. That seemed obvious when it came to Sir Stephen, who had returned to his post as the Kingís right-hand man, now that George was finished with his years needing a tutor.
However, George could also manage a well-mannered conversation with the Lord General, though the man made no attempt to keep back his disdain for a prince who could not hold his seat on a horse as well as a cavalryman. No one who heard the two speaking together would have any reason to believe that the Prince returned the Lord Generalís dislike, no matter how often it came up in conversation.
That was the duty of the Prince. And the Prince always did his duty.
So when King Helm of Sarrey offered a betrothal to his daughter Beatrice, there was no question what Georgeís answer would be. For nearly all of his seventeen years, there had been an uneasy truce between the two kingdoms following the great war, and now was the chance to resolve that. How could he refuse?
There are times when you donít want to show instead of tell. It takes longer and it slows down the pace of the story. I was conscious of this as I was rewriting THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND. But a fantasy requires a certain amount of backstory. That is one element that makes the novel longer. Another element was the focus on development of Prince George. I love the romance in the book, but it is told from Prince Georgeís point of view and I think the reader cares so much about Prince George finding love because of who is he and his life up to that point. So it seemed worth it to me to spend an extra page describing what he was like to those who saw him from the outside in the castle at that age.
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