It’s been interesting how people have reacted to my romances. I’ve read a couple of chapters to my writers’ group–Summit City Scribes. And I sent the finished manuscripts to my critique partners and both of my daughters, Holly and Robyn, and to the girl who grew up across the street from us. Heidi is Holly’s BFF, and spent a lot of time at our house. We call her our “adopted” daughter, because we think of her as part of our family.
When I used to read my urban fantasies to Scribes, I got really mixed reactions. The comments always started with “I don’t read this, but….”–which is fair, because a writer should know that a reader doesn’t know his/her genre. Comments can be very genre specific. My friend, Julia Donner–whose Regencies I madly love–used to get an abundance of feedback about “Why do you use so much description? You describe the room, what the people wear–in detail. You even mention buttons and hose.” She’d grin and say, “That’s part of writing a Regency. The stories are as much about social mannerisms and soirees as the romance between the protagonists.” I thought when I shifted to romance, I’d fit into what people in my group read more. The joke was on me. When I read for my fifteen minutes, and we started around the table for critiques, almost every single person said, “I never read romance, but…” Kathy Palm, another writer in our group who writes fantasy and horror asked, “Is there kissing?” Lol. She’d rather have someone mutilated.
My group might not read either urban fantasy or romance, but I still get great feedback–when I tell instead of show, when I should use more dialogue, discussions about word choice, repetition, using action tags that aren’t haggard, more internal dialogue, more emotion, etc. I always come away a better writer when I read at Scribes. It’s especially fun when people react strongly to something I purposely added because I thought it was clever. I love raw, gut reactions, and I’ve gotten more of those for my romances than I expected. For instance, in my second romance, Opposites Distract, I wanted to introduce a character whom I could feature in my third romance. I wanted a heroine who wasn’t the typical pretty girl. Paula’s a chef whose husband died overseas in the military. She has two young kids, and she’s Goth.
The Goth part got me in trouble. My writer friends shrugged and said since she was from New York, they could buy into the penchant for black. They could even overlook the stud in her cheek. But a nose ring? Oh, lord. Who knew that a nose ring could get me in so much trouble! They liked Paula. They just didn’t like the nose ring. “She’s a chef. It has to go.” I held off on changing it for a while, and then decided what the heck? In the big scheme of things, the ring could move to her eyebrow and still make the statement I intended it to.
My second surprise came when both my daughter Robyn and our “adopted” daughter Heidi called me to say they wanted to hit Brody in the head with a two-by-four in the beginning of Opposites Distract. A few other people had read that manuscript, too, and they especially loved Brody, but he starts out opinionated and a little on the bossy side. He’s a big, bad brooding hulk who takes responsibility too seriously. That endeared him to some. Not to Robyn and Heidi. Both of those girls are Leos–independent and outspoken. Brody might not live if he tried to bully them:)
Anyway, it’s been interesting how readers have reacted to the male/female couples in my romances. I should have expected stronger opinions, I guess, since romances are character driven stories. I didn’t see that coming, but it’s been a pleasant surprise.
And since I’m talking about romance–happy Valentine’s Day 2016!
My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/ (BTW, there are three short Mill Pond romances at the end of the left column of free, short stories).
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/
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