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:~: Monday, June 19, 2006 :~:

And So It Begins Again

I started the WIP last night. What began as a simple first sentence I couldn't get out of my mind turned into three full pages of prologue. I finally made myself stop writing because I'd started late and was too tired to keep going. But the seed was planted.

Reflecting on what I wrote today, I realized I'd started in the villain's POV. You see what happens through his eyes, and he's not nice. I guess that adds suspense and danger and makes for a tense opening, but as I thought ahead to the first chapter, I realized in order to make the next scene work it needed to be from a secondary character's POV. So in essence, I could conceivably have the first 10-15 pgs NOT from either the hero or heroine's POV, although they're present in these scenes, we just aren't getting their thoughts.

In the back of my mind I hear loud sirens and see flashing lights. "Warning! Warning! Rule Breaker!"

While I've never been big on rules (and this is a pretty minor infraction), it got me thinking about all those things you hear you can or cannot do when writing romance. I realize there are certain things you can't do if you want to make it in this business. If you claim to write romance, you have to have a happy ending. (Don't even get me started on Nicholas Sparks or that movie Somersby.) While you can murder just about anyone, you can't "show" the murder of either a child or a pet. Multiple POVs are acceptable in single title, not so much in category.

But aren't all these rules just making us write the same old stories, the same old way? Rule breakers are the ones who take a common plot and shake it up, give us a new perspective, turn a story into something we didn't expect. Of course, by doing so, they also run the risk of alienating traditional romance readers.

Do you find rules stifling or necessary? What things do you expect in your romances? What makes you throw up your hands and toss a book aside? What can you live with, and where do you draw the line?


Blogger Joan Swan said...

**Do you find rules stifling or necessary? What things do you expect in your romances? What makes you throw up your hands and toss a book aside? What can you live with, and where do you draw the line?**

Those are some pretty broad, complex issues we could probably talk about for weeks.

I think some rules are necessary. And I think new writers should follow them until they get their feet solidly submerged in the sandy quagmire beneath the surf. Then I think it's okay to break rules...some of them.

IMO, most rules come from the readers, where I originally thought they came from picky, know-it-all agents/editors. But the more confusing, emotionally unsatisfying books I read, or the more articles about what other readers like and dislike in a novel, I'm convinced that the rules are a trickle down affect.

As a reader of romance (mostly RS) I want my heros and heroines strong, but not rigid, good looking, but not perfect. I don't want to read details about subjects that all "normal" human beings find hideous--child abuse, pet abuse, rape, cold-blooded murder. That's not to say they shouldn't be in your story, just that we can do without the details. Fade to black is a good technique to get the message across without going over that line.

Head hopping, number of POVs in a story, character consistency...all those rules are there to create a readable, enjoyable story with a minimum, of confusion and author intrustion.

If you can write a great story that the reader can get lost in and still break some rules--great. I say do it.

12:03 PM  

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