Monday, August 05, 2013

Writing Styles: Another Excuse for a List

The other day I was thinking of how much has changed in the publishing world and my writing. The publishing world is something I cannot control, even by self-publishing. People will buy what they want to buy, no matter how much you advertise or if the book is published by a big five (formerly six) or small press.

So I rather talk about what I can control: my writing.

No way would I say my writing is at the level I want, but I can easily say it’s many times better than when I wrote my first book. It was a medieval with the unique (not!) title of DARK DESIRES. Go to Amazon and type that title under a search for books, and you’ll see what I mean. It has been a common title for many years.

My first 40,000 word book took several years to write, and thankfully I had the sense not to send it out to editors and agents. Bless their hearts. They had to deal with several others I finished after that one.

What are a few things I learned about myself and writing in general? Do you feel a list coming on? Oh, yes, I do love them.
  1.  I needed to work on my grammar. Now I’m a proud owner of at least eight grammar books. And I still work on it. I swear!
  2. The more I learn about writing, the longer my books become.
  3.  The average adult reads at a 9th grade level (Click here to find out more. Under Readability and newspaper readership). So I believe simple is best and I've found my favorite authors unknowingly do the same. This is more to do with sentence structure and word choice, and my preference to entertain and not educate.
  4. I've learned to keep my plots simple with only a few but hopefully surprising twists. The more complicated, the more confusing the book becomes and the bigger chance for plot holes.
  5. I usually keep to no more than two Point Of Views in one book. Will that change later? Not sure. I just know if I’m reading a book with multiple POVs (let’s say four or more), I become frustrated. “When is she going to return to the people I really care about?” “The hell with the main characters, I like the secondary characters better! Why didn't she write their book?”
  6. I work hard to make each beginning to be different. Such as I do the happily ever after endings, yet that brings me to the next one:
  7. I like to end my books with one of my characters saying something funny.
  8. More than once I've claimed when I get bored writing my book, I kill someone or blow something up. That’s true.  Good thing I write romantic suspense (in particular, assassins, spies and mercenaries).
  9. I try to keep my chapters around 10 manuscript pages because a friend of mine mentioned she hated long chapters. Because she could sneak-read short chapters in odd places (e.g., waiting in drive-thrus), and she often found herself neglecting bathroom runs if they were too long. Personally, I take the book with me. Yeah, yeah, bet you take your cell phone into the stall. Same difference.
  10. I avoid prologues, not only because most editors hate them, but because to me they are a false start to the story.  

Remember that every author has her own quirks and may be totally the opposite of mine. That’s okay. It doesn't mean they are wrong to do so. There are plenty of readers who love different styles. Thank goodness. Besides, my style continues to evolve.

Carla Swafford writes erotic romantic suspense. Her second book, CIRCLE OF DANGER, won the GDRWA Booksellers' Best award in erotic romance. 


M.V.Freeman said...

This is interesting Carla,

I like your list--it's awesome. I agree, writing continues to evolve.

My style is certainly outside the box and so far I am enjoying it. I think each project brings something new to the table.

Thanks for sharing this!

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mary. I never really thought of myself having a style of writing until I wrote this post. :-)

Meda White said...

Great list. I think I have a style but I'm still figuring it out. One thing I like to write is epilogues for a deeper look into the HEA. They may wind up getting cut eventually, but for my own sense of closure, I like knowing my characters are doing great beyond the wedding night or shacking up.

Heather said...

Loved the list!

One of the hardest things for me to do was modify my legal writing style to fiction. The biggie was being comfortable using contractions. You do NOT do that in legal writing. The other was using one space after a period instead of two. The odd thing is, I don't even think about it now; transitioning between the two is easy. However, in the beginning, it was a real booger. An added benefit is that my legal writing has improved. In comparing briefs I've written several years ago to recently completed briefs, I've noticed I'm better at telling the "story" of my case in a more engaging and conversational manner.

Carla Swafford said...

Meda, I love epilogues. Just make them your last chapter. That's what AVON had me do. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

LOL! I bet they're great reading, Heather, for briefs that is. :-) Thanks.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great list, Carla! There are many, many authors who are self-publishing who need to read your list. I too have a large collection of grammar books. I have a HUGE collection of Regency research books. I have a collection of dictionaries as well. I still take classes online on character development, setting, editing - you name it. Honing this craft is a lifelong pursuit. There is always something new to learn!

Carla Swafford said...

A sign of a great author. One who keeps trying to improve. Bravo, Louisa!

Lexi said...

Carla, I never my writing style much thought, but we have a lot in common. I also try to make each beginning different and I try to keep my chapters at around 10 pages. Love lists, too, BTW!

Lexi said...

GAVE, it's supposed to be "gave my writing style much thought." Sigh.

Carla Swafford said...

Lexi, and missing words in sentences is another thing we have in common. LOL! Thanks.