Making your writing stand out in a crowd

When does your writing fit a genre, and when does it just pander to the lowest expectations of that genre’s readers?

I’ve written before about the importance of using interesting language and avoiding clichés. What happens, though, if you overdo one of those things for the sake of the other?

One of the most difficult things about writing romance can be coming up with ways to describe the hero and heroine that don’t sound a) trite; b) overblown; or c) vomit-inducing.

Scott Eagan writes on his blog today, “I tell you, if I read about another man with ‘liquid blue eyes and a body that fits firmly into a pair of jeans’ one more time I will scream.”

I’ll be right there with you, Scott.

Ditto for the heroine. Scott says, “The goal is to find a believable person that women can relate to. We want characters that a woman can read about and see her own face in the picture.”

Oddly enough, this came up work today. I was having a water-cooler moment (except this is London, so it was a tea-kettle moment) with my friends. They’re all very literate and write in their free time. They don’t read romance but they’re incredibly supportive and ask me lots of questions about the genre.

We got to talking about my characters and the kind of people they are. I write my heroes and heroines the way I like to read about them – they’re the men you could realistically meet and be thrilled to fall in love with. They’re the women you would be proud to call your friends while not seething with jealousy, because they’re not perfect. They’re not just people who would give you a temporary thrill; they’re people you could happily commit to spending a lifetime with.

I should end this post there, but I’m somewhat traumatized by one of the comments on Scott’s blog. Mary McCall said, “If I read the line, ‘I want to protect you.’ one more time in a romance as the hero pulls out the condom, I’ll probably throw the book across the room.”

I have to say, that’s a new one to me, and I can’t think of anything less sexy than a hero all but admitting he’s diseased.

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6 Comments

Filed under Thoughtfulness

6 responses to “Making your writing stand out in a crowd

  1. Sarah

    Loving your blog Katrina! And glad you find us supportive and not literary snobs – I thought I should be chastised for some of my comments about romance books after reading your blog on transcending genre. Anyway looks like the joke is on me – as you know I don’t read romance and am slightly dubious about how much I’d enjoy it – but after reading your definition of the genre I’m beginning to think I may in fact be a romance writer, I just don’t know it yet!

    So perhaps I could swap you a Piece of Sky for The Bean Trees, unless you’ve managed to entice your husband yet? With the book I mean.

  2. I’m still laughing at your last line an hour after I read it.

  3. Robin Hillyer-Miles

    I’ve never heard that line … but I read more mainstream. I’ll have to ask Mary to bring a book with that in it to our next chapter meeting! Now of to read Scott’s blog!

    BTW – I agree with your version of the hero and heroine.

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