Friday, February 01, 2008

No one really knows anything.

I know I don’t. I occasionally speak with authority on the state of the romance market, or what’s hot, but really, other than reading the latest sales, I know jack shit. I can extrapolate based on the info out there, but then a sale will happen that will prove me wrong.

On the few lists I now subscribe to, there’s always a few people writing with complete authority on the market, what editors are looking for, what’s not hot and what people should be writing and how they should be writing it.
And almost 100% of the time, they don’t know much either.

There are workshops in every conference on how to plot, how not to plot, how to write characters, how to ensure the right pacing, and a lot of them have great information, in the right framework. I know the first conference I went to, my head got completely turned, and for the next year I was so busy trying to write the way I’d been told, I forgot how to write in a way that worked for me.

Now, I know which writing tools work for me and which don’t, but that took writing several books, and sometimes I wish I’d written the first two books in a vacuum, without having been to any workshops, or knowing anything of the market. Not that those books would have sold, but I would have figured out what I’m most comfortable with faster, I think.

I love that romance authors, published and otherwise are so generous with their knowledge and time, and I would certainly encourage any newbie to take advantage, but to understand there is a magic to this that I don’t believe can be pinned down in a writing seminar. Learn the tools, but discover the magic, through writing, and through experiencing great stories, in which ever format they come in.

And I’m not saying this with authority. With each book I learn tons more, and I’m up to book number five, or six, I think. By book number twenty, I could be singing a whole new tune.


Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead. One thing I know in this business is that the more I learn, the less I know...

I think that's one of the reasons I like it though.

Kimber Chin said...

Wow, this post came at a perfect time for me.

I was just thinking about how maybe I should have taken a few writing courses before starting to write. Geez, I don't even know what POV I write in (it's third person but which third person, I don't know). My editor tried to explain it to me and I still don't know. It's like he's speaking an entirely different language (thank goodness for Google).

So actually knowing what you're doing might help (at least with communication).

But I also find that the more "rules" I learn, the more challenging it is to be creative. It is like I have a bunch of editors hanging over my shoulder saying "oh, don't write that" or "that's not right."

Molly O'Keefe said...

Remember when we had that weird POV rule, Sinead? We thought you only needed three POV's pretty much no matter what and that all of them needed to be introduced in the first act. Well, we were wrong, weren't we?

I think the only rule that really matters is what makes good story. And all the other rules are tools you can use or disregard on your way to writing good story.

Sorry for not posting today -- I have four working brain cells today and after typing this all of them took a nap.

Anonymous said...

We learned so many rules.. and so many of them no longer apply.
A good story trumps everything.. and trusting your story helps a lot too..

Kimber, it's hard, but keeping focused on the story and the way to tell it properly is so the way to go and it seems like you're on the right track.

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