Monday, August 06, 2012

Breaking the Rules without Breaking Reader Hearts

I'm a rulebreaker. Yep. Sadly, it's true. I just can't seem to follow other people's strictures for my life, but particularly for my writing. Like I remind my doctor, I'm not a statistic and just because something works for the majority does not mean it will work for me. And vice versa...simply because a path is not a widely accepted one to take doesn't mean I won't be glad I traveled it. In fact, considering my sometimes contrary nature, I'll probably be happier taking the less trodden path.

I'm not sure if that makes me courageous or just plain dumb, but there it is. :) It's also probably why I fought so many of the "rules" and "accepted wisdom" when I first started writing and continue to do so. But lest you call me a rebel without a cause, let me share mine with you. I want to touch readers hearts. I want to share the stories that come from deep inside me with others and in doing so, sometimes I just can't follow the rules.

When I first began to pursue my dream of becoming a published author, I was told by many that it would not work to write more than one subgenre of romance when trying to build my career. I heard and understood the advice given to me in this regard. I even saw the legitimacy to it, but I could not dismiss the stories clamoring in my head to be written merely because they didn't all fall within the same easily identifiable
categories. How could I tell one set of characters they were more worthy than another? So, I wrote the stories I had to write and amazingly enough (to me anyway), I sold those stories to four different publishers as time went on. No, I don't recommend writing different subgenres if you are not a fast writer, but if you may be the only way for *you* to stay fresh and...well, uh...sane. :)

So needless to say I've published over 50 books in five subgenres. And along the way, I've broken a few more strictures and instead of turning readers off, I've been lucky enough to connect with a group of them hungry for the kind of stories I want to write. I can't tell you how grateful I am that is true. One thing you have to accept when breaking a rule is that there can be and often are negative consequences. I won't pretend I haven't run into any. I have. Has the cost been worth it? Absolutely. I find a lot of joy in pushing past preconcieved notions regarding what belongs in a romance, both in the writing itself and discussing it with those igorant of the power and depth of romance novels.

I want to keep trying new things and writing stories that touch my readers' emotions. Because of that, although I'm happy to break rules, I never want to break a reader's heart. So, I guess you could say one rule is still sacrosant for me: my romance novels end with an HEA that sticks and they always will. I guess you could say that's *my* rule.

What are some rules you think should never be broken? Ones you wouldn't mind seeing trampled, or at least stretche a little bit?



marybelle said...

In general, I think it's a very good thing when boundaries are stretched & rules are broken. If no one dares to break out of the mould then how can there be any progress or creative thought?

Ladyacct said...

I don't really like it when the hero OR heroine flat out cheat on each other ESPECIALLY when it's just swept under the carpet. . . .Just my opinion though.

robertsonreads said...

I agree with both thoughts from the above commenters. And, Lucy, I love your rune HEA. If I don't have that, I can watch what is on tv, newspapers or internet for reality and unhappy endings. I am divorced, 14 years now, and yes I still believe in HEA. Though not necessarily for me, I know it's out there for others, and I am happy for those who have it.

robertsonreads said...

*sorry about that, your "rule" regarding HEA.

Lorna said...

I also want to have the HEA ending - that rule should never be broken. I once read a book that covered the deaths of the main characters and their children and I was left with a sick feeling inside. I want to leave the book with that warm happy feeling of love everlasting.

I also don't like reading about infidelity. I want the main characters to have integrity and honesty in their relationship.

Amy McKinney said...

I agree with the other ladies I don't like it when the hero or heroine cheat