I’m not talking about Dr. Who. No, I’m referring to that amazing Doctor who wrote a book on a bet and created the most beloved stories of all time…Theodor Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss! Twenty years after his death there is BIG news because his wife discovered two complete Seuss manuscripts while she was cleaning out his study. The first entitled “What Pet Should I Get?” will be released by Random House this July. It features the same brother-sister duo that appeared in “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Now isn’t that exciting throwback news?
Did you grow up with Doctor Seuss? What was your favorite title?
It’s just as important in this wacky writing biz, to learn what NOT to do in your writing along with all those must dos. Here are two simple items one must NEVER do in a romance novel, at least in my opinion.
1. NEVER kill off a dog! Or any other lovable creature. Yes, I’ve read novels where such things have occurred, but they immediately go into the “donate to the library” pile. It’s too much for this sensitive soul. Perhaps such mayhem might happen in a thriller novel, or a straight suspense novel, but believe me, it upsets the reader and romance readers have expectations to be happy in the end (see #2). If this writing sin is committed, you will get MAIL. Ironically, killing off a character doesn’t incite as much angst as murdering the sweet family dog. In my first mystery novels, there was the “incident of the injured bird”. The bird lived, mind you, but I still got an earful about that! So if you’re penning that romance, or romantic suspense, leave the fuzzy (and feathered) friends alone!
2. Don’t forget the HEA. That’s the “happily ever after” in case you didn’t know. That is an absolute necessity in the romance genre. Readers demand that their characters are going to be in a happy relationship at the end of the novel, or at least there should be an expectation that their future might be happy together. You cannot end the story with the two protags agreeing to part ways and never see each other again. That’s not a romance, and you will get MAIL.
So are there certain things you do or do not want to see in your romance novels? I would really love to hear your thoughts. Giving away a VISA gift card, signed book and February surprise next week!
The more you know about a fiction character, the more real they will seem to the reader. What do they like to eat? Where do they spend their free time? When I create characters, I also spend time thinking about what sort of hobby they might enjoy. A hobby can tell a lot about a person. A current character I’ve created for a suspense novel enjoys fly fishing. How about you? Got hobbies? Just for fun let’s take a quiz and see what hobbies are recommended for our personality type! You share yours and I’ll share mine!
I’ve never really made writing mistakes, actually. (And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you!) In truth, I’ve made too many mistakes to count, and we’re talking big ones, not the namby pamby spelling errors and missed commas. As I look back on a 15 year writing career and some 20 novels to date, here are my “big three” writing mistakes.
1. Leaving too many dangling threads. Ah yes. When I started out, I thought there would always be another book, another sequel in which to wrap up all those little niggling issues. Turns out, publishers can nix your line any old time, so you’d better make sure to wrap up all those reader questions. If not…you will get MAIL!
2. Using too many words. Oh I hate to admit this one, but I LOVE words, especially adverbs. I like to sprinkle them in to season the stew so to speak, but words are like salt. Too many and you’ve ruined the thing! Sigh. I have had to pare down my whimsical use of adverbs. The pain!
3. Using minor characters for plot purposes only. You know, the Crewman Donovan type who delivers a message and then falls off a cliff? Those kinds of characters can be one dimensional, and clutter up the story. Much better to have all the characters fully fleshed and interactive, rather than using the poor things to serve a practical purpose without giving them any dimension.
There. I’ve admitted it. I have had to learn many writing lessons (mostly the hard way.) Have you learned any lessons in your career or home life? Things you do differently now that you did as a “newbie?” Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise.
Having just returned from the happiest place on earth, I’ve spent the last few days watching some serious hero-worship. Little tykes (and not so little folks) trek around Disneyland, stalking their favorite heroines. It was clear during our stay that the big winner is Elsa from frozen. So why has this Frozen feminista dethroned our more seasoned heroines like Snow White? Why doesn’t poor Snow attract masses of adoring kids like Elsa? Putting on my writer’s cap, I’m going to say it’s because Snow White has three fatal flaws that modern folks cannot tolerate in their heroines.
#1) Snow White is weak and helpless. Sure she’s kind and compassionate, but she gets into all manner of predicaments and can’t extract herself from a single one. This is not what we aspire to as women (or humans in general.)
#2) She doesn’t make smart choices. It’s the classic “woman walks into a lonely house with a stalker on the loose without so much as a cell phone to call for help.” Man. Those dwarfs specifically TOLD her not to open the door. Not only that, but she takes an apple from a stranger and EATS it! Oy!
#3) She’s completely one dimensional. Who is she, aside from a pretty face? What does Snow feel passionate about? What does she strive for? What are her goals? Disappointments? No clue. The only things we know are that she’s a good housekeeper and has a way with animals. Sigh. These traits are lovely for a simple, antiquated fairy tale, but they don’t cut the mustard for our modern hero/heroine requirements.
Do you agree or disagree with my Snow White analysis? What fictional hero/heroines do you think are better role models for kids? Giving away a signed book, VISA gift card and February surprise.
Okay! Time for a walk down literary memory lane! If someone asked me my top five fiction books (various categories) and gave me only a few minutes to think…here’s what I would say.
1. The Wizard of Oz (children’s)
2. The Crystal Cave (fantasy)
3. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (literary fiction)
4. Rebecca (gothic suspense)
5. The Code of the Woosters (humor)
How about you? Off the top of your head…what is your fave book in each category? Would love to hear your answers! Giving away a VISA gift card, signed book and February surprise!
It was a sad day in 2011 when Borders went the way of the Dodo. It left a hole in our city that hasn’t been filled. Yes, we have Bay Books and one town over there’s a Half Price Books, but to have that luscious, walk in a bookstore filled with the latest and greatest as well as the tried and true, the remaining choice is Barnes and Noble three towns over. I complain. I lament. I wax nostalgic, but did I myself contribute to the downfall of the bookstore? Uh, er, yes, most likely.
Oh I was happy enough to go browse the bargain sections, and finger through plenty of new releases, but how often did I plunk down the money for a full price book? Um, not often. And how often did I help myself to a discount book through Amazon after reading all those tidy reviews and pressing that easy to find “add to cart” button? Plenty of times. Yes, I must face the facts that often I succumbed to the seduction of the quick fix, lower price Amazon option. Sigh. So when I complain that I miss the Waldenbooks, The Borders, Crown Books, etc, I guess I must take some responsibility for that situation.
To make myself feel better, I’m including a link below with photos of some of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. If only they would come to my city!
Where are your top three places to get books? Giving away a VISA gift card, a signed book and a February surprise.