It was a very poorly written Regency romance paperback which started me on my way as a writer. Until then, I admit that any urge I had to write was stifled by the mystery of dialogue. How did an author create credible dialogue? Fool that I was, I never attempted it until that modern 'penny dreadful' pushed me to try. I know now. The answer is quite simple for me — I take dictation. My characters say what they like and often do as they like. I sometimes find them kissing or moving on to more serious acts, and there is little I can do without stepping away, without taking my fingers off the keyboard. I wonder if they knew we were reading about them, they might be a little more discreet, but somehow, I doubt that in a moment of passion they would give a damn!
More than seven years later, I have no problem when writing. Once I have given my characters their names, they begin to take over. Their personalities emerge and have very little to do with what I had originally planned for them. The hardened hero often takes on a schoolboy vulnerability and my heroines have the colour of their hair changing several times before the end of the tale. Not one of your modern hair colour products either, because the majority of my people are ensconced in the Regency period. Contemporary romance has added itself to my repertory as well as sci-fi/fantasy with time travel.
Now, when I look for other authors’ stories to read, it seems that to be part of the modern romance bandwagon, you need a billionaire (forget about millionaire) or a veteran as the hero. Why? Just how many handsome, unmarried billionaires are there out there? What are the chances that a billionaire is going to cross my path and be interested in me? A damaged war veteran is more likely, but does he have to be muscular and handsome?
To me, the stories lose all credibility. I have to admit I am not even tempted to download those books which are being given away free, so will certainly not pay for them.
Throw into that critique all the book covers which need half naked men, women or both on them to grab a reader’s attention. In the back of our minds, we know that they are actors posing who sometimes don’t even correspond to the people in the story.
Jane Austen gave very simple descriptions of her characters. The rest was left to our imaginations, and, I might add, there were no images printed on the covers.
For me, less is best. Is this harsh of me?
What do you think?