I can’t believe I forgot one of the most important rules of writing until today. Post Nano, I’ve been feeling super burnt out on writing. Nothing’s been flowing well, it all feels rushed and scattered and more unpolished than usual.
So I vowed to take a break. A few days, perhaps a full week (or 2 knowing me). But during that break, I also vowed to catch up on reading in my preferred genres (YA/ supernatural/ romance/ women’s fiction/ suspense). I picked up a book I’d been meaning to get to for months , and…
Well, I finished it in one day. (I won’t name the book, for when someone thinks I’m bashing the author. I just don’t fee like getting into it with anyone.) And it was interesting and fun and made me go ‘hmm’ with a tilt of the head to the right.
At first, the author’s style was driving me nuts. “She’s not starting every new action in a new paragraph! Dialogue tags, woman! Where are they? Too much exposition! Am I reading an essay here? Why don’t I have a clearer image of the characters?! Tall with green eyes doesn’t tell me enough.”
But, then… the magic happened. I became engaged. By the end of chapter 5, I couldn’t stop reading even if I tried. Not that I actually put up any fight. But, I was immersed. By the last quarter, I was so deep between the pages that I lost track of time. Seriously. I don’t know what my family, or I, ate for dinner. My heart was pounding. How’s the FMC going to get out of this mess? Isn’t the MMC supposed to be here by now kicking this scum’s bum where is he?! She needs help! Mayday, Mayday! Run, girl! Abort mission!
By the time I closed the book -read all in one day- I realised that was what I was missing: the passion. The ideas were still there, as was the semi-urge to write, but my passion fell somewhere by the wayside. I became so obsessed with rules and writing that I forgot an important rule: keep reading books in your preferred genre. It helps! Trust me it helps.
I’m now reminded of why I wanted to write, what works for me, what gets my blood going and what I aim to do. This author had writing flaws, no doubt, but in the end, all I cared about was the FMC surviving and making it out of both the physical and emotional drama to at least live, love and kick ass another day. Midway into the book and I didn’t give a rat’s bum about writing rules, what I’d learned, what my preferences were. But I just lived vicariously through the FMC. I cared about whether she uncovered the mysteries and if she’d get her shot with the MMC despite her declaring her independence at every turn. Yes, I cared about how and whether she survived. I cared about her as a character. That, to me, is what drives readers.
They have to care or your book gets tossed aside for a character they do care about.
And I forgot.
I can’t forget again. I need to keep reading in my preferred genres, and I have to keep up with the trends. This is the best way to do it. I don’t need to conform to said trends, but I need the reminder of why something works for me and why it doesn’t (or probably won’t) by reading published works in the genres I love most.
Tomorrow, I’m starting on a suspense/romance/mystery-with-a-dash-of-humour trilogy. I’ve never tried this particular author before, but I believe it will be interesting to see what happens and how it makes me feel. Wish me luck.