16 April 2010

Romance Reading for Writers

One of the things that I find most inspiring as a writer is reading. I don't think it's possible to improve as a writer without reading, both for pleasure and with a critical eye. Right now I'm reading The Queen's Lady by Barbara Kyle. It's historical fiction set in the Tudor era with a healthy dollop of romance. I've been really impressed by the author's research and how she's developed the relationship between the hero and heroine. But as I read, I also realize that it's not the sort of book that I could write. At over 500 pages, it has a complex plot and follows the characters for several years. What keeps me reading is the pace. (Though I have to admit that I skipped ahead to make sure that it had a happy ending--it does!)

As a writer, I feel most comfortable working on much shorter projects--novellas or short novels. I've written two (unpublished) novel-length romances, but in both cases I lost a lot of steam after the first 100 pages. I also felt as though I was losing control of the characters and the plot. This is probably in part because I don't write using an outline. For me, outlining seems to lead to mechanical, rather than organic, plotting. That certainly isn't a problem that Barbara Kyle seems to have.

If I do eventually move on to writing novel-length romance, there are a few authors that I would like to emulate. I await their new releases eagerly and always buy them new (as opposed to getting them from the library or buying them used). Three romances that I can't wait for are:

Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran (April 27th)
His at Night by Sherry Thomas (May 25th)
Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt (August 1st)

These three writers consistently deliver stories with great characterization, strong plotting, and swift pacing. I'll be reading their new releases in order to enjoy great romance, as well as to improve my own craft.

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