My son leaves for college tomorrow and my husband is headed into a busy season of business travel, so I do anticipate a lot of sleepless nights in my near future, perfect for writing. My day job has been ramping up to crazy levels, leaving me a bit un-creative fiction-wise by the time I shut down the work computer... so I've been unwinding with reading.
Procrastination Tip of the Day: As a writer, you must read widely in and around your chosen genre, so reading is, like, a necessary part of the job. See? It's a job requirement. Go read.
That said, I've finished 27+ books in the last month, only one of them a novella, and started and abandoned 5 others, including one I almost finished but just couldn't bring myself to care enough about the ending. Excessive, I know. And now I have a backlog of reviews I need to write, because out of those books finished I've only written 3 or 4 reviews, which were for authors I know personally.
What have I learned
from this obsessive behavior?
1. There are a lot of un-perfect books out there. Yes, more than just the five I abandoned. Head hopping, bad editing, missing words, misused words, overused phrases and trumped-up drama. I'm not a quitter, so I usually finish the book if it has anything good about the characters or plotline - unperfect doesn't mean "bad," and even bad books are a learning experience, sometimes more so than good books.
2. Billionaires are a heavily overused cliche. Yes, Jane Austen did it too, but she understood how the aristocracy worked. And princes and lords have been a staple of romance since novels were first published. But. I'm not sure if this is a hangover from 50 Shades or what, but there are a TON of them out there. Most with "billionaire" in the title, in case you might have missed it. And very few of these guys are even believable as billionaires. What happened to write what you know and/or research the hell out of it? Internet. Google. The (gasp) library.
3. Reality t.v. (like the Bachelor) is hard to write as a novel. It sounds like an easy setting to conquer, and yet... I've now read at least five reality t.v. romances, and no, not easy. I don't think watching the Bachelorette is the same thing as knowing what goes on behind the scenes or how decisions are made or how television people actually go about doing their jobs. I think I may do a post comparing all the novels I've read in this genre - and I think there are even a few more on my Kindle I haven't cracked yet. Or maybe I'll just say enough with this: People! Don't write it if you don't understand how it works.
4. I don't like books with too many POVs going on at once. And I'm not even talking about the rookie writers who jump into a character's head once to further the plot - I'm talking books where there are six different characters with separate agendas and POVs, where the author can bounce between them properly and still annoy me. It's much harder to write from one POV or a he said/she said alternating POV (my preferred style to write and read) but in the end so much more satisfying. Too much head hopping is easier for the author, but harder on the reader. Unless it's an epic saga, like Lord of the Rings or something. Tolkien needed to be all over Middle Earth, and there was no way to do that without dividing and conquering. But come on, romance in a small town doesn't need everyone and their older brother's perspective. Focus!
5. Sex should make sense in the context of the story. Lust or longing or love at first sight is a different thing, but actual physical contact? That should definitely wait until both characters are ready. One of the books I abandoned had one of the characters basically muscle his way into a vet's office as she was closing up for the night, demand that she stitch up his dog's wound unassisted then after she successfully saved his dog, he had sex with her against the wall of the operating room, and she was hot and ready. Umm, really? Exhausted and covered in dog blood and afraid, yeah, believable. Wet and willing? Not so much. Click. Delete from device. Pass the brain bleach, please, stat.
So yeah, after taking my son to college and sharing tearful goodbyes (Although I'm sure I'll be the only one crying) I'm ready to come home and write. I'm inspired to do better.
I've shared my Top 5 Pet Peeves - how about you? What current trends have you banging your head against your Kindle and maybe reaching for the brain bleach? Share!
And happy reading - and writing!