Monday, October 26, 2009

The Golden Template

Everyone is looking for the golden template of romance writing. Authors want to know how to write a romance that agents/editors will love and love and love. Agents/editors want to know how to identify a romance that readers will buy and buy and buy. Time is of the essence so all short cuts are embraced.

Current trends call for more use of contractions and personal pronouns, with the justification that people talk in contractions and pronouns. But if we really write the way people really talk, dialogue will be a mess. Listen to conversations around you--they stray all over the map.

Another trend is the elimination of passive voice, as if it is somehow "wrong." Actually, passive voice is a legitimate grammatical form and, in many cases, the most appropriate one. A concomitant trend, though, is the misidentification of passive voice as any usage of any form of "be." "Be" in all of its forms (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) is called the copula, the connecting verb and is used with predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives. It is also necessary to express certain verbal aspects. As such, it is the most common--and vital--verb in the English language, and eliminating it from one's writing severely limits expression.

Some templates even identify "had" and the suffix "-ing" as "passive," which borders on the ridiculous.

Another trend, a strictly limited point of view, seems to be abating somewhat, thank goodness. Many successful books use multiple points of view; literary types call it omniscient voice.

What do readers want? If they're like me, they want interesting characters and a good story told in an interesting way. As a multi-published author recently told me, "The important thing is how a book makes a reader feel." And there's no golden template for that.

No comments: