I am not sure what it is but I am all about blogging this week so I am going to take advantage and just go with it. So I was thinking, while in my car on the way to work, about what makes a good book. Yes, this is a time old question but still begs to be asked. Is it subjective; does the formula change per genre? Because you have millions of people purchasing books and not all of them are endorsed by Oprah. Personally, my goal is to get on Ellen.
Okay, Amy, focus. So what is the secret formula? I know that if something is written with passion, you can feel the passion break through the binding and out onto the page. But, lets be honest, there are those who write for profit only. Cookie cutter books, formulaic books, and they are making a butt-load of money doing it. Are those novels better or worse than the ones written by someone who is truly passionate about their voice?
Then you have the “rules” and standards about what a certain genre should and should be or have. For example, Romance has three apparent rules. 1.) There has to be a happy ending. 2.) POV is from the heroine, not the hero. 3.) There can only be one love interest.
If you ask me that is a pretty small box. Is this why I have a mountain of rejection letters?
Okay I am going off on a tangent; let’s go back to the beginning, the formula. All romance novels follow some rendition of the same formula right? Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Now you can add, subtract, or complicate to suit your needs, but when it comes down to it, that is what you have. It can be applied to any romance, right? Wrong. I read a book this weekend by a well known author and I am struggling to put the formula in place. I do want to mention that I liked this book, but did not love it. Could this be part of the reason?
If romance is indeed so formulaic than why do we continue to read the same story over and over again? Ah, it is the story teller. You know that old game you used to play at school, the whisper net? You would all get in a circle on person would ask a question that the person at the other side of the circle had to answer. The trick was transferring the whisper accurately through the line between point A and B. At the end you usually got an answer that didn’t make any sense because the original question got so mangled, or lost in translation. So perhaps the story, how it is received, and told, depends entirely on the person telling and listening. To me this confirms that formula or not, literary taste is completely subjective, and so the rules of romance, are most likely based on the popular majority, and thus are also subjective.
So Amy, what is the point to this ramble?
The point is there is no magic formula, no instant potion to success. Idea’s, opinions, and consensus, change in a New York minute. So don’t get yourself all knotted up thinking that you are not in the box so your style will never work. Bullshit.
If you write, know why you write and for whom. I write for me. Yes, rather egocentric isn’t it, however it is true. I write for the reader I am. I know what I want to see in a book I read and that is what I write. I cannot change why I write because that is not being true to me. I will continue to write for me, and I just hope there are others who are looking for the kind of tale I tell. That is all I can expect or ask and I am good with that.
So if you have a stack of rejection letters, or you are struggling to write your next novel, sit back and remember formula or not, a good book is a good book. Egocentric as it may be, what are you in the mood to read? Whatever it is, you write the story. Your voice is like no other, your translation is always unique and I guarantee there is someone out there who will love it just as much as you!
So go…write…get to work! I cannot wait to read it!
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