Can’t . . . or Won’t?

August 20, 2007 at 11:04 am | Posted in Jessica, romance, storytelling, writing | 1 Comment

In thinking and talking amongst ourselves about our writing careers, we wound up, one day, issuing a challenge to one another – what is it that you can’t – or won’t – write? And then one of us (not me!) took the challenge one step further and tossed the truth-or-dare out there as a suggestion for one of our weekly blog topics.

Gulp.

Honestly, I am still trying to figure out what I write . . . just what the best venue is for my voice and my ability. So, I really hadn’t a clue how to approach this week’s blog session. But it turned out to be a much better exercise for me than I anticipated because the more I thought about it, the more I started to narrow, mold, and shape the contours of my comfort zone.

For example, I know I can’t write what I don’t read. Forgive me for those of you gifted with a passionate pen – I know that erotica, romantica, and erotic romance are all wildly popular and successful aspects of the romance genre. I have friends who write in one or more of those categories and they love it. Thrive in it. And I am so glad that the market has exploded with possibilty for these very talented writers.

When reading, I like a sometimes hot and steamy scene that enhances an overall story, but a book where the majority of the work concentrates on sex isn’t why I read. So for me to try to write such a thing wouldn’t work all that well. Nor would it be riveting or authentic enough to sell.

So erotic romance, can’t write it.

It hasn’t been until recently, when we at the Purple Hearts went on a major J.R. Ward binge, that I read my first paranormal romance. This woman is an amazing world builder. And while I may not have understood the whole vampire fascination early on, I 100% completely and totally and emphatically get it now. Just when I thought I had found my favorite Brother, I fall in love with a new hero in each book. (Book 5, Lover Unbound, hits shelves September 25!)

Whenever I come to the end of one of her books, I am overwhelmed by how good they are. And when I read the work of someone who is as good at world building as JR Ward is, it humbles me as a writer. I am not saying that I won’t ever write a paranormal romance, but at this stage of my writing skill I am not sure that I can.

So for now, I’ll scratch paranormal romance off my list of possibilities, too.

There is another kind of book that would be difficult for me to write, and that is the Regency or historical romance. I do enjoy reading a good historical. I love the manners and the chivalry and the true love in a historical love story. But I am horrible with the details. I like reading about the clothing and the accessories and the customs, but I do not have a good enough command of any of them – or the actual, historical facts – to write a believable historical. And fans of Regency and historical romances know their stuff, and a fraud would be exposed before the ink dried on the paper.

So, I’m afraid, at least at this moment, I couldn’t do a Regency or historical much justice either.

So where does that leave me in terms of what I can or will do? Well, it’s somewhere in the contemporary realm, perhaps with a little murder or a little mayhem, a bit of banter thrown in and hopefully some serendipitous love along the way. All I can say for sure, whether it be to myself or other writers, is be true to yourself. If you don’t love or know or believe in what you are writing, chances are your readers won’t get on board with it either.

As an aside, I marvel at authors’ abilities to reinvent themselves. In this industry, it has almost become an imperative to be willing and able to try new things. In this post, I can only speak to my current skill level. In time, I hope to be able to morph like the pro’s!

This week, may you discover what you can and will do, and make both work for you!

-Jessica

(In this post, I linked to some of the specialty chapters in RWA, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the screenwriting chapter – Scriptscene – especially since I’ve blogged about screenwriting a time or two. I hope you will check out the chapter’s dazzling new web site!)

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  1. Good thoughts and advice. I’ve often thought I could write something, and then discovered it was not in me. No big deal. For now. But with the growing of skill, perhaps I, too, can reinvent myself. Think I have to invent myself in plain old romance first, though. LOL

    I enjoyed reading this, Jessica. Thanks.

    Carol Anne


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