Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Nonromantic Romance Writer

This last week, I've done a great deal of editing on my manuscript. My new critique partner, the fabulous Ellen, has been invaluable in helping me tighten up my work by eliminating sections that don't forward the action, rehash something already told, thinly veiled info dumps, and the sort of nonsense and lazy writing habits that I'm prone to engage in.

From an entirely different, but no less reputable, source came even more useful critique concerning my ongoing struggle to master POV, pacing and active voice. These are all areas where I struggle, but I'm determined to get it right. The funny thing about this 'other' critique is that it pinpointed something that struck me as funny. The person said that if I hadn't indicated 'romance' then they would have thought my story was a straight paranormal fantasy. Why would I find that funny? Well, I'll tell you.

I mentioned before that my RWA chapter might eventually wonder what possessed them to agree to let me chair our upcoming conference since I'm probably the least romantic writer (or one of them) in the group. My strong affinity for fantasy and sci-fi writing (Neil Gaiman is in Chicago today at ALA accepting the Newberry medal for the Graveyard Book. WOOHOO!!) finds its way into all of my writing and if I had my wicked and warped way, our romance writers conference would be headlined by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Patrick Rothfuss. And what would that get me? I'll tell you. There would be a whole bunch of thoroughly confused and probably angry women out for my head if June weren't here to restrain me. Not that I could GET Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett or Patrick Rothfuss to come and speak but that wouldn't stop me from trying to convince them.

And to further illustrate my non-romantic ways, one of the two stories I'm working on currently has a character so reprehensible that even I think of him as the BIGBASTARD. He shows no sign of reforming and seems to be quite content with his lot in life, as it were. You would think that I, as the author, would have some control over his actions, but such is not the case. I'm letting him tell his own story and all signs are pointing to the road to ruin. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, again congratulations to one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, for winning a very prestigious and relevant award for an outstanding book.


Abigail said...

I hear you, as another writer who doesn't quite fit in romance and certainly doesn't fit anywhere else. I started identifying as a romance writer after running into prejudice from non-romance writers because my books had romantic elements, as if that were somehow inferior to more "serious" books. The romance part is central for me, but I just can't stick to the standard romance formula. Other stuff keeps creeping in.

But I think it's good to push the boundaries of genre. Go for it!

Pamala Knight said...

I think you're right Abigail. My work probably is one of those genres with 'romantic elements' thrown in. And I too, find that the romance is central but I guess the rest of the story does fall outside of the formula. It's good to have a different perspective on it, though.

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep plugging away.

Marilyn Brant said...

I'm a big fan of "romantic elements," too :). I think to write truthfully about a woman, you often have to include her romantic experiences because these relationships are frequently integral to her life. I like it when the romance is heavily mixed with other elements as well, though. Makes it you just do what you do best!

Congrats to Neil Gaiman--wow!!

elegantextracts said...

Pardon me if I'm PROVING my ignorance, but could you fall into the chick-lit category? The reason I ask this is I've done a far amount of reading in the romance & chick-lit genres and I don't necessarily think of "romance" as "chick-lit" and vice-versa. Chick-lit, for all of its detractors, does (or should I say, can) have substance. Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, et al: chick-lit; Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey: Romance. I have no idea what actual romance writers think.

Pamala Knight said...

Thank you Teresa dear, for trying to seat me with the popular kids, but umm, no. I wouldn't say that what I write is necessarily chick lit (which I happen to like a great deal no matter what anyone says) but some strange hybrid with heavy fantasy elements and a romance woven throughout.

I'll do better under the paranormal umbrella until I figure out how to write my way out of a paper bag. *smiles*

Pamala Knight said...

Marilyn, I think that the Golden Heart for According to Jane gives you license to sprinkle 'romantic elements' throughout anything you want to, don't you agree?

As always, thanks for the kind words.

elegantextracts said...

What about Alice Hoffman? Your fiction can be placed in the same category, I think. I think of her more as a chick-lit author who leans more in the literary/fantasy fiction direction than to the more romantic side of chick lit. I l "lurve" Alice Hoffman - especially the early AlLice Hoffman (pre Oprah)