Saturday, 31 December 2011

Smart Advice from the Smart Bitches


Santa in the silver haired, elfin form of my big sister Nin brought me a stellar present: “Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels” by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan.

You might know the Smart Bitches.  If you don’t, jump on over to their blog, Smart Bitches Trashy Books and laugh yourself silly.  It’s brilliant.  Smartly brilliant.  Very, very funny and serves as both a cheerleader and a critical friend to the romance genre as whole.  Dimly remember a book but can’t remember the title?  The Smart Bitches community can identify it in a heartbeat.  Want to read some stomach-achingly spot on and laugh-your-socks-off funny reviews?  Smart Bitches is your friend.

I knew the book would be funny.  It’s also eye-opening.  As I’m flicking through the pages, laughing out loud and feeling that nice, warm fuzzy feeling a person gets from feeling part of a humungous worldwide fan-girl community, I keep having KERPLUNK penny dropping moments. 

I finished my first full length manuscript in 2011 – Merely Players.   But I know it’s problematic.  Writing the sequel, Boundless as the Sea (working title, highly likely to change), I know I’m going to go back to the drawing board with Merely PlayersBoundless as the Sea is easier to write.  It jumps from the pen onto the page. I’m enjoying it more.  But why?

Is it because I like the characters?  Well yes...

It is because their conflict is clearly defined?  Well yes...

But that’s not just it.  Then on page 75 a quote from Laura Kinsale (and if you haven’t noticed how much I LOVE Laura Kinsale, hop over to my Keeper’s Shelf AKA The Library.  She is the single best romance writer around today):

 “The man carries the book.”

The man carries the book.

Even when the heroine is too stupid to live, we can still stomach her if the hero is compelling.  And in Merely Players he isn’t.

Curse it, damn it.  It’s all about the hero.  I’m a voracious romance reader – why didn’t I know that?  Well the truth is, I did.  It was buried in there somewhere, but the iron curtain that sits between writer-me and reader-me somehow manages to place scales on my eyes.

The books I love the most are the ones with the most memorable heroes.  Of course they are (see below 'the evolution of the hero from Beyond Heaving Bosoms - love it!).



And knowing that, helps me to hone my focus. 

In Boundless as the Sea, Richard is much easier hero than Ghis in Merely Players.  He’s strong and pissed off, but he’s honourable and loyal and protective.  Ghis, on the other hand, is more difficult because he’s stroppy and self obsessed.  He needs a bigger redemption to make him palatable and a GREAT sense of humour to engage the reader from the offset.  Less drama, more laughs.

Ok, I have my marching orders.

Thank you Smart Bitches, you rock.

And Nin, you elf haired (see gratuitous picture of an elf) kindle obsessive, you rock too.  

No comments: