Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writerly Musings

My first title was released in July of 2011. Since then I've become very familiar with reviews and readers' reactions to my work. I've met other readers clamoring for "different" stuff. I've learned there are professional reviewers, neutral reviewers that focus on craft, mean reviewers that make authors reconsider whether they're cut out for writing or not, passionate readers that offer their opinions in the form of a review, reviewers that have such firm ideas of how a story should go that they pretty much tell us how we should've written the book, reviewers that—

I'll shut up now. I'm pretty sure you all get my drift, and this post is not about reviews. It's about my personal journey and individual style as an author, but before we reach that point, I need to get back to basics.

I've been reading fiction forever. I adore doing so. It's been my favorite hobby my entire life.  If I remember correctly, I discovered the romance genre when I was only eleven. A battered Harlequin copy was mixed in with a bunch of magazines my aunt gave me. I read it and I was hooked. Not to Harlequin, but to reading romance.

As a reader I don't like gratuitous anything. Books with misunderstandings that go on for at least four chapters, silly bickering written in an attempt to replace real conflict and too stupid to live characters that should not be allowed out of their houses are, in my opinion, a waste of precious reading time and an insult to my intelligence. And boy, don't get me started on the sex. I mean, I most definitely enjoy a hot sex scene, but it'd better not be the only thing happening in the book, and it better mean something. Porn without plot and stroke stories are not for me. When the only thing growing between the main characters is their erections I cannot help but to feel turned off and frustrated.

I want a solid plot. I want realistic characters and situations. I don't want to escape the world. I want to see how these guys who become real to me the moment I start reading deal with every day issues. I want to get emotionally invested and cheer on the guys until they find their way to happiness.  And you know what? That doesn't always happen within 50,000 words and fifteen chapters.

If you've been following my "career" you know I'm a rookie author. To date I have three published stories: HeatstrokeSouthern Winterland and Six Degrees of Lust, and if you've read my work then you also know I don't stick to any specific formulas. There are two reasons for this:

1. I write what I like to read, and
2. early on I decided to let the characters do the talking.

Every one of my stories, both published and WsIP, began with just one character. Some times he turns out to be the MC, but not always. He'd much rather be in the background and wait until the time is right for him, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have lots to say and things he needs to bring to the table.

He demands his POV is included. Then another character appears with the same behavior. And another. And another. And what they have to say needs to be said on their time and on their own terms. I need to listen because if I don't, their story won't be the same. And that, my friends, is how I ended up writing an ensemble serial with unresolved situations. 

Several unresolved situations.

This, of course, will change as the series advances. Sadly, it just could not happen in one book. Not unless I wrote a 2,000-page saga.

Six Degrees of Lust has received wonderful reviews. Some readers loved the format and the build up and appreciated the fact that every character has a distinctive voice. Others readers hate the cliffhangers and would've preferred the book didn't have as big a cast, and focused on Sam and Mac's POVs.  Both opinions are valid and appreciated. It is a matter of personal taste and to each their own, yes? 

But those opinions got me thinking hard and carefully. Should I not write ensemble novels? Should I find a way to silence all those voices even though I know why their story needs to be told a certain way? Should I stick to conventional formulas so that I don't upset the readers that know what they want (only the MCs) and how it should be (no cliffhangers or open storylines, please)?

Some one told me I need to write more sex. I've been advised to stick to a proven, successful formula. I've been told I'm better off not including kids in my books. I've tried to decide the kind of readers I want to reach: the escapists or the hard-core realists... and I've decided that the best thing I can do is to remain loyal to my characters and their journey, however long and bumpy it might be.

My other stories, and this includes Disasterology 101, my next title to be released,  focus on the main couple. But when/if the time comes for another big cast, I will welcome it with open arms, because they have a right to be heard even if they aren't the norm.

Just like I'm not.

But enough about me. I want to hear what you guys have to say about this. Readers, authors and reviewers. Are you willing to read out of your comfort zone, or do you prefer to stick to stories similar to the ones you've liked the best so far? Why do you feel that way? Could I change your mind? Just kidding on that one ;-)

Come on, guys. Discussion time. Inquiring minds would like to know. :-)


14 comments:

  1. I like stories that are true to the author's voice. I could be wrong, but I *think* I can tell when an author is writing to formula, and when an author's inspired story just happens to mirror a formula.

    In other words, I can like almost anything, as long as I feel the author is being "authentic" to their inspiration and their characters.

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    1. I agree. Formula stories always feel flat to me.

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  2. I love your writing style...stay true to you and your characters. It has always bugged me too when some reviewers complain about the direction a storyline takes. I think people sometimes forget it's not their story.

    Anyway...patiently waiting for my next "degrees" book.

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  3. I love 6 degress of lust, even though the cast is huge, 80% of the story is still told from the MC's POV. I don't see a problem. Conventional formulas are boring. And predictable. Some authors have one, and you know what you are going to read and get even before you even read it.

    I will read a story if I like the prose. Kids, non-MC POVs and open storyline (*sigh* as a Song of Ice n Fire fan, tell me about it..) are a non-issue with me if the story engages me.

    As evident by the various wonderful reviews about 6 Degress of Lust, we love it, just keep doing what you are doing! There's no pleasing everyone, you are the one writing the story. Please yourself.

    PS: I thought there was plenty of sex in 6 Degrees. The biggest issue with M/M genre is gratuitous sex scene.

    PPS: When is the next degree book coming out?

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    1. Hmm... Not quite sure about release yet. I'll post about it the moment I find out :-)

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  4. There are as many opinions as there are people. Write to please yourself. People may or may not like you en masse but there will always be someone who wants to hear your voice.

    One thing I have learned from the Internet is that there is room for everyone.

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    1. Thank you for the awesome advise, Sassy. I really appreciate it :-)

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  5. Hi Taylor!

    1) anyone who has a piccy of david gandy on their blog page is already awesome in my book (no pun)! oh and it doesn't hurt that i love your stories too :D

    2) do what you want :D. as an avid reader, i love a series but i also love a quick HEA. depends on my mood. i love m/m, m/f and maybe a mix of the two :P. but i really love a slow build up to the characters world, their personality etc.... i'm a huge fan of JR Ward and Suzanne Brockmann. i'll never forget what JR said in a chat with her fans years ago... "i have no control over the story. i tell it the way they tell me too" and she has not deviated from that style. her books aka characters are effin fantastic.

    if you tell your stories they way you want them told, then you will find the fans who are really meant to be.

    xo

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    1. Hi Trish!

      Hehe David... yeah... *g*

      I'll continue to tell the stories my characters want me to... the way they want me to. *nods*

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  6. I love an ensemble cast, albeit with one main focus couple. I loved looking at the other guys (beyond Mac and Sam) and hoping/wondering who they (Logan!!) will meet in subsequent books. Don't change the format... I loved it :-) ps when do we get the next installment ??

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    1. Thanks, Barb. I've noticed Logan has quite the following :-)

      I'll let you know the release date ASAP!

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  7. I'm scared to ask what type of reviewer I am, lol. Honestly honey I don't know that many people that haven't read your shit and not loved it, you have a solid fan base already and I may be concieted but really we are all that matter,lol. Trueth be told though when you remain true to yourself then it all works out. Love You!!!! Oh as for the topic, I've got certain story lines that I hate and I always say no, no, and no but there are authors out there (you included) that I'm going to read no matter what they write and often times I love what they wrote because they made me think, feel, and connect.

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