Yesterday, I read an article about the 10 worst pieces of writing advice every author hears. It was a good article in that it listed the things, told why they were important, then reminded us why we need to not adhere to them religiously. I like articles like that.
But I've been thinking since then, about all the advice I've received over the years. I've been writing stories since I was in elementary school. Once out of high school, I realized that I'm not a very good student. I went to college... several times. But I'm just not a great student. I do pretty well the first couple of semesters, but then something happens and I'm done. When that happened in my early twenties, I joined a local romance writers' group and a national organization.
That's when the real writing advice started. Some of it was great, some of it made no sense for my way of writing, and other parts were just... things that make you go 'hmmmm'. I went to a lot of workshops, joined several critique groups, read a lot of amazingly BAD writing from my writing friends.Watching those same friends learn and grown and get much better was awesome. :) Getting better myself was awesome.
And I wrote. I wrote a LOT. I got several books close to the 'ready to submit to publisher' point, and that was back in the days where you printed out everything and sent it to New York and then held your breath for months, waiting for a response. Any response! Man, if I had a way to translate my Brother Word Processor disks to something readable, or even print them out, I'd have a gold mine.
But several years into the effort (I have a problem with finishing things), I heard something that made so much sense and I thought to be absolute truth at the time.
"Publishers hate a happy romance writer."
In my experience, to that point, this was gospel. When I was in a relationship, I wrote more of the happily-in-love romance and much less angst. I didn't write much about couples fighting, because I'm not a fighter. I wrote mushy-gushy stuff that made people go 'Awww!'. I guess I still do, but then, I'm a happy romance writer. :)
I learned, as I grew older and gained more life experience and met my husband, that yes, it's much easier to write about 'what if' when you're still searching for that one true love. It's easier because you're already in dream mode. You already have a thousand different scenarios going through your head every time you meet a new potential mate or even just hold the gaze of a handsome man for more than just a moment. Boom! There's a story, right there. Off you go to your notebook or computer to capture that moment and see where the story goes.
But what about us happy folks who have found our Prince Charmings?
Well, we dream in different ways, I suppose. We look at what we've got and write the opposite. Or we write those stories where the hero/ine fall in love early and work together, conquering all odds to get to their HEA. There's a place for those sorts of romances, as well, in my opinion. Not everyone fights. Not everyone has to hate their mate when they first meet them, in order for love to form.
And there are just some couples who don't fight. Like, ever. HoBA and I have been together for nearly 18 years now, married for 7 on September 8, and I can count on no hands how many times we've had a nasty fight. Oh, we've had discussions and misunderstandings. I think every couple does. But actual fights with screaming, slamming doors, calling names and bringing up the past? We don't do that. Both of us grew up in situations where fighting was common and we both have a deep need for peace, so we stew for a bit, talk about what's wrong, do what we can to fix it, then keep on going.
I guess I'll have to learn how to write the scenes where the hero/ine have negative sparks until they get together, but I honestly don't like writing those. I like to focus on the 'love' part of the story, not the bitterness and anger. But the market seems to like the angst, so I have to figure it out. :P
On another quick note, with one more book sold, I'll officially hit my second major sales milestone. It might not seem like a lot to some authors, but for me, it's fantastic. :) Cross your fingers that I get it! I've got five days left in the month, so hopefully there will be at least one more sale by then! :D
Happy author is happy! :D