On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reader Rules

You've heard writing rules: mystery, body on page one; short romance, first meet within 3 or 5 pages. One I'll talk about tomorrow is when the h/h say "I love you" in a romance.

These writer rules are based on READER RULES which I define as what will make your READER put down the book and never buy you again. READER RULES are those you break at your peril of losing a reader, like killing off your heroine at the end of a romance (as if your editor would let you).

A hook is very, very important (I've realized that in the last few days in my own reading). The best way to hook a person who's picked up a mystery is to have the body on page one. Same thing with romance readers, have the meet soon (and I violate this one all the time...maybe I should try it sometime -- oh, I finally did, Heart Quest, duh).

So WRITING RULES evolved from READERS RULES, but some have definitely gone their own way.

Writing rules can usually be broken if you're a skilled enough writer, you can build tension and show the body in the middle of chapter two, you can focus on your hero or heroine and show the reader their problems before they meet.

Repeating: Break READER RULES at your peril. Do NOT kill your hero or heroine in a romance. Do NOT kill your romantic hero or heroine off stage between books and recycle them with a new hero or heroine. Do NOT solve all the characters problems with Magic. Do NOT bring in a character at the end that has never been mentioned in your mystery to be the murderer. (That sentence is awkward, but I've revised twice and the muse is calling -- or at least the cats).

Give the readers what they expect from your genre. You can do it. So think about "writer" rules and "READER RULES." What will you enjoy breaking? What do you have the skill to break?

May you enjoy playing with the rules today.


Blogger Joyce said...

As a reader I find it very aggravating to wait until page 100 or so to have the H/H meet for the first time.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Thanks Joyce! I'd better start counting the pages on Heart Fate...;)

I usually have my h/h meet, then go different ways for a chapter then meet again. Berkley lets me do this.


8:21 AM  
Blogger Joyce said...

I have no problem with the H/H meeting and then going different ways. Your stories are so great that I quickly get involved in the story and the characters. I'm counting the days until Protector of the Flight!!

1:29 PM  

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