Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are You Writing Right?

If you just snorted, well… permission to snort back? ;-)

Okay, so we all know there's no "right" way of writing, but are you writing what you love?

Anne Gracie had us do an exercise at this year's RWA Roadshow that led to an interesting discovery and contradicted my answer to that question.  I'd like to take a moment to say a very special thank you to Anne for granting me permission to discuss some of her material from this year's Roadshow.  If you ever get a chance to hear Anne speak make sure you get a seat!

The exercise only took a minute to do (literally) and I can wait if you want to give it a go...

Exercise: Write down five elements that you like in a book. For example, do you like humor? Surprise? Trolls?  Little green men?  BIG green men?

My list came out a little like this:
- Emotional rollercoaster
- Surprise
- Flawed characters/quirky
- Humor
- Learn something

You're impressed, aren't you?  Except for the "learn something" I actually sound literate.  Finger snaps for me.

So what do those five points mean? They're the top five features you love in a book, and now the million dollar question is: are you incorporating them into your own stories?

Umm... Maybe? 

I have a degree in marketing and international business so my tiny little brain is quite thrilled by things like market trends and I’m guilty of falling into the trap of writing for the trend rather than myself. It’s not something I do on purpose but it does happen and I can honestly say that those are the stories that never sit quite right with me.

The golden rule is to write what YOU want to read. That’s what JK Rowling did. That’s what Stephen King did. And we all know how badly it turned out for them… They may have had a tough time breaking into publishing land but you’ll have an even tougher time kicking them out.

Now, I was a little surprised by my list. Humour isn’t an element I set out to write into my stories and yet it’s one of the things I really enjoy when I’m reading. If a character can make me laugh then I’ve already broken through that emotional barrier and bonded with them.  I'm a sucker for a good sense of humour.

Emotional bonding is important for your readers. It prevents them from putting the book down to do the ironing. You want them to care about your characters and their HEA enough to risk going to work with wrinkled clothes.

So take a step back and have a look at your list. Really look. There’s only five things on it but it could tell you something as big as a tip for emotional bonding that is specific to you and your writing. That’s not to say I’m about to turn into a comedian but being aware of what you find natural when it comes to emotional bonding is important. That sort of insight doesn’t come along every day.

It’s not a hard and fast list of rules that must be included in every manuscript but if you’re writing something dark and dangerous but love to read books that are sweet and funny then it might be time to try your hand at sweet and funny because that could be where your creative talents really lie.

Write what you love to read. It’s as simple as that.

Don't forget to post your list of five or how you go about emotional bonding in your work.  I'd love to know what you come up with.

If you'd like more information on the lovely Anne Gracie, her books and writing articles please click here.  You can purchase Anne's latest release, The Accidental Wedding, here.

Happy writing!


Jackie Ashenden said...

Great post, Lacey! And oddly enough, that's exactly what I like in a book. I tend to pull myself back when I write humour - I get worried I can't have humour AND drama without upsetting the tone. But you know what? I don't care now. I'm writing what I want to read!

Monique DeVere said...

Great post, Lacey!

Figuring out what we like to read for the benefit of our target market is great advice.

Thanks for sharing.

Lacey Devlin said...

Jackie - Isn't it interesting how our perceptions can really influence what and how we write? It's such a shame too because unique combinations and styles is what can make or break you. I love that you're writing what you want to read now!

Lacey Devlin said...

Monqiue - I'm glad you enjoyed it and it's great to see you back in blogland.

Suzanne Jones said...

Terrific post, Lacey. Thank you for sharing.


Anonymous said...

My list looks a lot like yours!

Emotion, humor, flawed/quirky characters, characters that grow/change, snappy dialogue.

I really like this post, because it's so easy to lose focus about what is truly important.

Thanks, Lacey!

Lacey Devlin said...

Suz - Thanks for stopping by!

Aimee - Great minds think alike ;-) It's a fabulous little exercise, isn't it? It's definitely one I'll be keeping with me.

Catherine Coles said...

You already write with humour, Lacey, you really do. Anyone who read your NV entry last year will agree. Your writing is full of sentences that have me grinning and laughing out loud.

Now please let me see some more because you are fab!!

Lacey Devlin said...

Aw thanks, Catherine. You've made my day!

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