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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just finished reading...

Dead Heat by Joel Rosenberg. It's the last in a five book series based on End Times Prophesy. Another edge-of-your-seat read. Started it late yesterday afternoon, and finished it this morning around ten. And no, I didn't stay up all night. I was in bed by ten and didn't pick the book back up until almost seven. (And yes, I should have been in church this Sunday am, but wasn't...no excuse.)

What strikes me whenever I read a book that is not a romance... but wait--a small detour, if you don't mind...

Romances take a lot of bashing. Mostly because of the bodice-ripper covers that were all the rage back in the seventies, and which seem to be, if you've recently perused the romance section at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, making a comeback.

Also from those who believe that a romance novel is A) full of sex {and called porn by some}, B) worthless drivel that has no place on the book store shelves and is so easy to write that anyone could crank one out, or C) Romance novels are read by women whose lives lack romance.

Just FYI, in 2007, romance was the biggest fiction category, selling more than $1.375 BILLION in sales from approximately 8,090 releases. In 2004, romances comprised 55% of all paperback books sold and 39% of all fiction sold. Also, more romance novels are read by professional women who are happily married.

As an avid reader, and aspiring romance writer, it is my personal humble opinion that romance novels are by far the genre held to the highest standard--despite its detractors--and held there by its authors and would be authors. I've been a member of Romance Writers of America and my local chapter of RWA for six years now, and in that time I've learned a tremendous amount about writing in general, and about writing romance specifically (it stands to reason, being part of romance writing organization and all...).

So back to my original point: no matter how exciting a non-romance fiction book
(as the above mentioned book certainly was), no matter what genre it is, the thing I'm always struck by more than anything else is the lack of point-of-view purity, or author intrusion. What do I mean by this? Most of my romance writer friends will probably know...

So I'm reading this morning, and we're in a bad guy's point of view, and I read that the bad guy is doing something or watching something and his eyes are glittering in excitement about whatever it is. If we're in his point of view, his perspective, he can't see or realize that his own eyes are glittering. This is a visual that only another person could see...

Example two: we're in the good guy's point of view and he gets a phone call. It's not good; according to the caller, catastrophic things are going to happen that no one can stop. The caller says more bad things are supposed to happen but they can be stopped. Then we get a sentence like: He (the good guy, 'cause we're supposed to be in his POV) just didn't know how bad things were going to get. This is almost like hindsight, which there is no way the point of view character could know. This is author intrusion--and a big no-no in romance writing.

So for my fellow romance authors (or readers), what other things do you find in non-romances that are frowned upon in romances?

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America