27 October 2010
there you are, just staring at your computer or eating your carnival corndog or spacing out in the middle of a conversation when it hits you. A SHINY NEW IDEA. it’s beautiful and original and nothing like the rest of them and for a perfect moment you can already see your future together. you know you have to have it before someone else does and your next move is going to be critical. luckily, enough people commented on your blog today that you’re feeling confident. extra-attractive. you decide to make it yours.
everything is surreal. you can’t stop thinking about it no matter how hard you try and let’s be honest – you don’t really want to. you’re convinced that this time everything is going to be different. this is The One. the one that’s going to make agents cry over you, editors throw money at you, bestseller lists around the world make room for you at the top. maybe you have a title already? maybe you’ve even written a really excellent first paragraph? you don’t care. none of that matters. the only thing that really matters is Oprah is going off the air. she has no idea how much you were looking forward to that interview.
things are still pretty good. you’ve told Facebook and Twitter and the only five friends you know in the real world that you’re writing a new book and people seem moderately interested which is already better than last time. you haven’t really started writing yet, but you will. in fact, you’ve already got the first chapter written! and the more you read it, the more you’re convinced you’ve never written anything quite as incredible. you can’t wait to dive into the story! SERIOUSLY. you can just feeeeeel how amazing this is going to be. maybe you should buy a new outfit to celebrate.
well! you've written a few chapters! but GOSH you are just so BUSY these days and the kids are so CRAZY and work is just HECTIC and you've discovered all these really awesome websites recently and it's now become a "thing" of yours to refresh your email and update your Twitter and "Like" at least five things on Facebook before you open up that Word Document. but it's not like you're avoiding it or anything! it's just -- you're having a bit of a rough patch! but you'll work through it! you'll figure out this plot twist! well, first you'll figure out a plot but then! then things will work out! you just need to find a way to communicate your needs! relationships are ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE!
WELL MAYBE IF YOU WEREN’T SO DAMN NEEDY I WOULD PAY MORE ATTENTION TO YOU! DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT? DID YOU EVER THINK THAT MAYBE I HAVE TO PAY THE BILLS AROUND HERE AND MAYBE I CAN’T SPEND EVERY FREE MOMENT OF MY LIFE STROKING YOUR FREAKING EGO AND MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST WRITE YOURSELF ALREADY I’M SO SICK AND TIRED OF THIS CRAP I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE WITH YOUR UGLY ADVERBS AND THOSE STUPID DANGLING PARTICIPLES YOU THINK MAKE YOU SOUND LIKE SHAKESPEARE GOD YOU'VE CHANGED INTO SOMETHING I CAN'T EVEN RECOGNIZE MAYBE WE SHOULD REALLY STOP FOOLING OURSELVES ABOUT THIS WHEN CLEARLY I'M THE ONLY ONE TRYING TO MAKE THIS WORK I HATE YOU SOOOO MUCHHHHHHHHH
you didn't even see it coming! I MEAN GOSH THINGS WERE GOING SO WELL! but there it was. sitting on the outskirts of your imagination the whole time, teasing you with promises of what could be. ANOTHER SHINY IDEA! it was wearing a flippy skirt and red lipstick and it sounded so intelligent you couldn't help but fall for its false proclamations. but you were too dazzled to realize that this new SNI was only a distraction. it was fleeting. unfulfilling. a concept with no tangible form. a cheap thrill with no literary value. you feel cheated. you feel dirty. YOU'RE SO ASHAMED.
you messed up. you never meant to leave but things were getting tough and maybe you have a problem with commitment and really, it was a mindless fling that meant nothing! you realize now what a mistake it was and how wrong you were to leave. it wasn’t like anything even happened! it was just a moment of weakness and NO YOU'RE NOT THINKING OF THE OTHER ONE RIGHT NOW you already said you're sorry SO SORRY YOU SWEAR IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN YOU ARE NOW FULLY COMMITTED TO SEEING THIS PROJECT THROUGH NO MATTER WHAT.
blood. sweat. tears. so many expletives. a million points of compromise, hopefully lots of kissing. really excellent dialogue. stupid digressions you'll edit out later. adventures you weren't expecting, secrets you didn't know you had, new things you never thought you'd learn. BUT YOU DID IT. you stuck it out. you wrote a freaking book.
i hear you're expecting a sequel?
18 October 2010
So, in case you were wondering what should be avoided:
SLOTH: Info Dumps. Nothing turns me off faster than a book that starts off with a long narrative explaining all the world building. Info dumps are lazy. They’re bad form. The details of your world should come to light slowly, layer upon layer, immersing the reader in the experience. For hints on how to do this, paranormal romance writers should study the best written fantasy.
LUST: Fetishism of the Supernatural. I’ve got nothing against kinky characters. What I mean by this is the tendency for paranormal romance writers to fetishize the supernatural elements in the same way that science fiction writers sometimes fetishize the buttons and gadgets of their worlds. That your character is a werewolf isn’t all that interesting in and of itself. Not being a furry, I’m not turned on by long descriptions of fangs and silver-grey coats. And while the fact that your hero can identify anything with his superior sense of smell lends flavor to his persona and reality to your world, it’s not actually characterization. Obsessing on the blood sucking, the mysterious brotherhood, and the magical abilities may appeal to other readers who share this fetish–but its not storytelling. There has to be more to hold the book together than a collection of neato cool superpowers. Paranormal has its place, but don’t use it as a crutch.
GLUTTONY: Big Chunks of Boring Dialog Meant to Convey Realism. Writing teachers everywhere tell budding young authors to listen to real dialog and use it as a model for what their characters should say. This only gets you so far. In real life, people wander off on tangents. They pause and hem and haw. In short, they bore the pants off one another. Why would you want to do that to your reader? Paranormal romance characters live extraordinary lives. We don’t have to hear them talk about their car trouble or what kind of ice cream they’re going to eat unless this has some bearing on the plot, or conveys something about their character, or is a delightful little detail sparingly tossed into the mix. Real life conversations can go on for hours. Conversations in fiction need to be tight and lean! Never overindulge.
GREED: Too Many Speculative Elements. The best paranormal romance takes the world as we know it, or the past as we imagine it, and twists one or two crucial elements, following the repercussions from those changes like ripples on a pond. The worst paranormal romance turns itself into a carnival for every strange and unexplained myth, magic, and phenomenon in the cosmos. Elves and vampires, mining together on Epsilon 4 with space aliens who are ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West in a kingdom called Oz…readers need to be able to focus. In a world where everything is possible, what is truly at stake? (For an example of how too much of a good thing can ruin a series, see the television series LOST which started out with an intriguing premise, but eventually piled so many new paranormal elements onto the stack that the whole thing collapsed under its own weight, bleeding viewers and disappointing long-time fans.)
WRATH: Violence Overload. Most paranormal romance follows the trend of urban fantasy to put existential concerns at the forefront. If the fate of the whole world, country, city, species, brotherhood, or pack isn’t at stake, our two lovers have no reason to care. It’s gotta be bloody, too. A struggle for survival. I’d like to see a good secret baby vampire romance or a simple mistaken identity story between witches, or a marriage of convenience between werewolves. At the very least, I’d like to see interpersonal conflicts that focus on a developing relationship at the center of the book, rather than the danger and violence.
PRIDE: A Glossy of Terms. Look, if you want to put a glossary of terms at the back of the book for curious readers to look up terms as they arise, go for it. But putting it at the front of your story signals to me that you think you’re just too special to weave your special language into the book. That artful exposition is something that those paeans must use, but you, you are too good for it. You will make your readers actually look it up instead of being able to figure it out in context.
ENVY: Mary Sue Characters. We all want to be six foot blond bombshells who can kick butt in high heels, smite evildoers, and capture the heart of the sexiest angel ever to fall from heaven. But such heroines can’t be all wish fulfilment, quick-witted, never afraid, never at a loss for a words, and always right. I know that its held as a given in paranormal romance circles that your hero can be a bastard but your heroine can’t be a bad girl, but a reader can’t love her if she’s perfect. What’s more, she can’t identify with her if she’s perfect. Give her some dents in her armor and let the hero call her on her bullshit once in a while.
This is a good list - thanks Stephanie - I especially like LUST. The whole no character type left behind. Some worlds get so busy and implausible you just have to give up.
12 October 2010
05 October 2010
Cover cafe has an interview with Jason Baca. It also talks to a couple of the cover designers who used his images about the process of coming up with the covers and why they chose him.
There's a bit of a bio, what he does to stay "cover ready", info about photo shoots. There are also a few more photos. So if you've ever wondered about the men who appear on romance covers - here's your chance to find out this one. I was going to pick out bits and share them with you, but the article isn't that long and probably more interesting to read the whole thing.