Saturday, November 8, 2008

Passive Aggressive

Years ago, when I took singing lessons, the instructor tried to teach me the proper stance. I stood up straight, arranged my feet just so, relaxed my knees, tucked in my bottom, stretched my waist, raised and expanded my chest, clasped my hands out in front of me, lifted my chin--and fell over.

It was a millipede-who-couldn't-walk-once-he-was-questioned-about-how-he-did-it moment.

I think something of the same sort is happening in the world of romance novelists right now. Fifteen years ago, the question that defined the worth of your story was whether it was "character-driven" or "plot-driven," and your answer had darn well better be "character-driven."

Now there are more questions, like whether you know your characters' GMCs, which I always fleetingly think refers to gross national product. Then there's the story arc dealie. And eliminating all adverbs. And restricting dialogue tags to "said." And the business of sticking like glue to a limited third person viewpoint.

Some of the above are helpful. Others are downright silly. It's all a way of trying to capture a will-o'-the wisp--success--in a bottle. But a brief perusal of works by popular authors will show that they feel no such compunctions.

So I think I'll just lock myself in my tower room and write the stories I want to write the way I want to write them. Maybe lightning will strike and I'll get published; maybe it won't. But at least I won't fall over.

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