Thursday, March 11, 2010

There are rules?

There are rules? Shouldn't somebody have mentioned this before now? (This is a loose quote from a book - which will remain unspecified lest I be laughed to scorn).

My first experience with a writing group went quite well. Or at least, I think it did. I wasn't humiliated. Everyone was friendly and supportive. I received positive feedback and truly constructive criticism of the newly re-written first 4 1/2 pages of my manuscript. All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Especially because I was surrounded by ladies who don't think I'm loony.

But, in the midst of my critique, one of the ladies made this startling pronouncement . . . While you can start the book with the bad guy, one of the rules of romance writing is that the guy and the girl have to meet in the first chapter.

Excuse me?

Did she just say . . . Rules? There are Rules!? (One of which is to never ever use a question mark and an exclamation point together. I'm a rebel.)

Yep. She said rules. And from what I've been able to gather over the past few hours of random web-surfing (while I should have been doing laundry), there are quite a few of them. Things like the heroine must have inner beauty that the hero finds irresistible. And the hero must be flawed, but not fatally. I'm fairly certain, hopeful, praying that I have followed most of the rules purely on an intuitive basis.

Because let's face it. I've read a lot of books. A Lot. And many of them have been romances. (That is not a typo. I do read books that aren't romances. I do. Stop laughing!) I'm hoping the rules have sunk in by osmosis and just managed to find their way into my manuscript without conscious effort on my part.

While it would be nice to think that writing is an art and as such cannot be constrained by rules, if you want to be a published author that is not the case. So, I'll be brushing up on the rule book this weekend. Wish me luck!