The further I venture in my author career the more I learn. Most of it makes me scream and cuss at my computer. The latest cursing rant, learning about the book formula from a writer perspective.
The formula, or rules, I’ve come to find are simple. Unless you want to be a rebel writer. Here’s the formula to be memorized:
Thou author shall only write safe stories. Under no circumstances is the story to deviate from the tried and true plot, proven to make money. There shall be no uniqueness or realness of any kind. If conflict and intrigue are a part of the plot, it must be solved by the end of a chapter. Above all you must remember to keep your characters within the parameters of their stereotypical archetypes.
Bored yet? I am. Amongst many reasons I wanted to become a writer, the memory of why I started writing romance books is crystal clear. I was over the book formula. If you don’t already know what that is, I’ll break it down for you. Within every genre there’s a blueprint of how books should be constructed. There are certain character types, themes and conflicts we’ve accepted and expect to be regurgitated repeatedly.
Our heroines are supposed to bat her eyelashes at everything the hero says. After all, he’s dashing, smart, sexy and successful. Conflicts are handled in the book formula manner. Which is, brought up once and then resolved with mature, calm, lukewarm tension. Typically, it is a short exchange of dialogue that is over at the end of the chapter, if not a paragraph! The silent rule is; we mustn’t rock the love boat! Continue steering our couple towards their inevitable happily ever after.
Much like watching reruns of television shows, every so often you want to read a book that follows the standard script, it’s comforting. If you’re lucky you come across a wildcard in that genre. I’m a fan of both styles. I understand why we need the repetitious comfort, but I also look forward to discovering the new.
Not only do I want to read books that break the book formula, I want to write those kinds of stories as well. The books I write aren’t groundbreaking, they’re love stories. I’m proud of that. What makes my books different is the element of realism. True realism. I write books with topics, characters and even scenes that are considered taboo.
I want the messy. The mean, the immature, indecisive, jealous and sometimes squeamish moments that occur in real life to be in my books. For me, those are the elements I found I was missing as a reader in other romance stories. I find it annoying when my characters are extra lovey –dovey, or when their arguments are based on flimsy nothing. Or worse, when a story has perfectly constructed situations. Not only is it obvious, it makes me want to skim the paragraphs till the books end.
Although I feel like I am in the minority, I’m not. You’re not. I’ve spoken to many readers who think like us, sick of the monotonous puzzle. When you break that mold, alarms blare, lights flash and there’s a giant arrow pointing down at the writer who dares to be so bold to create a story that doesn’t follow the script.
Sorry, call me crazy, I want stories to break the mold so I am surprised by the ending. I want to read and create content that isn’t perfectly constructed to the ideals we believe to be perfect. Characters should be allowed to be real within the realm of fiction. Let them scream unnecessarily. Let them have sex wildly and dangerously. Let them cry immaturely and get drunk uncharacteristically without worrying there needs to be a perfect bow slapped on top by the end of the chapter.
Don’t lose sight of the definition of fiction. It’s a fantasy. Meant to be interpreted as close to or as far from real life as the author wants. Let the new book formula multiply the unconventional and minus the mundane.