Friday, December 30, 2011
For those of you who don't know, I manage a bakery for our local Walmart. The bane of many Walmart bakeries is a website called Cake Wrecks. If you have never visited it you don't know what you are missing.
I don't know what is more amazing about some of these cakes - the fact someone actually decorated them to look that way or the fact people actually pay for them and take them home!
Romance novels can be a lot like cakes.
Some are gorgeous to look at, but with little substance inside.
Some are less than lovely, but man are they some good eating!
Some are social relevance tomes masquerading as romance novels - sort of like a tofu cake with goat cheese icing. It's good for you, right? Right? Yeah, not so much.
And some are just, well, for lack of a better term - a wreck.
There are a lot of ingredients in a really great cake. But the most important ingredient is the skill of the decorator. And more often than not, the oversight of a really great manager. A great manager would never allow anything less than the decorator's best work to go out the door.
In writing, if we are smart, we try to put our manuscript before some really great 'managers' before we turn it loose on the world. Beta readers, critique partners, contest judges and for the real hot shots - agents and editors. It can be painful when one of these manager types tells us our cake is a wreck, but not nearly so painful as seeing our wreck out there in the public with the icing falling off of it and the word "Critmas" in big bold letters.
For those of you who think this post is perhaps more relevant to self-publishing authors than it is to others, you couldn't be more wrong. As writers we owe it to anyone to whom we send a chapter, a paragraph, a partial or a full to present our very best work. And we owe it to ourselves to do whatever we have to do to make sure our work is at its best before we send it out into the world.
Most important, we need to be true to what we write. Romance doesn't need to be dressed up or over-iced with intellectual philosophy, long preachy passages on social issues, efforts to raise it to the level of "literature" or any other apologies for what it is. Give me a real romance. Give me two people who fall in love in spite of the odds, who find each other no matter what the obstacles. Give me characters I can root for, or fall in love with or really wonder if they will ever live up to their potential. Give me adventure or comedy or angst or grand drama laced through and covered with all of the things that make my heart sigh and my soul smile. Take me to times and places I want to go and show me how love is the most powerful force on earth. Take no prisoners. Make no apologies. And hold nothing back. Show me what you got, romance writers ! No Book Wrecks here!
What are some things that wreck a romance novel for you? What do you do to avoid wrecking your own books?