I was surprised to see a passionate blog from mystery writer, Sherry Harris, today, asking for writers to respect each other.  https://wickedauthors.com/2019/05/09/can-we-just-stop/  And I am always surprised when I hear that certain writers or writing groups attack other writers or writing groups on twitter or Goodreads or Facebook.  I mean, what’s the point?  And what does that say about them?

I’ve mentioned before that I went to a book signing where a newspaper reporter, a literary author, a nonfiction author, and a romance writer were giving a panel, and the reporter, not people in the audience, gave the romance author a horrible time.  He told her that she was  so talented, she should write “real books.” To which she replied, “I think writing about love and relationships IS writing real books.”  (I was proud of her).

Every writer dreads getting bad reviews from readers, even when we know there’s no way to please everyone.  I was so happy to see a thread on Kensington’s Facebook Between the Chapters page where bloggers and readers seriously discussed whether they felt comfortable giving reviews below 3 stars because they didn’t want to ruin a writer’s rankings if the book didn’t appeal to them but might be perfect for another reader.  We all have different preferences and tastes.  The responders gave thoughtful, serious consideration to the subject, even the bloggers who insisted that they felt compelled to warn other readers about books with a myriad of grammar mistakes, etc.

If bloggers and readers try to support authors, why wouldn’t fellow writers?  We know how hard it is to write a book–any kind of book.  And we know how hard it is to live up to readers’ expectations.  And every genre has them.

When I wrote romance, my wonderful editor let me try just about anything I wanted to, as long as I followed the ingrained rules of the genre.  Readers expect boy to meet girl.  Okay, maybe that’s too narrow.  These days, boy can meet boy and girl can meet girl, but whatever the set-up, there’s some kind of attraction.  Then there are obstacles and misunderstandings, etc. before boy wins girl…or whatever.  I followed that pattern.  It’s what makes a romance a romance.  BUT in book number three, I wanted to have a heroine who’s always attracted to the wrong kind of guy, Mr. Wrong, first BEFORE she notices Mr. Right standing in the background.  I’ve met my share of smart, wonderful women who fall for guys who aren’t good for them, but luckily for Paula (in my book), Chase isn’t about to let that happen.  My editor was fine with the idea.  My readers?  I got mixed reviews.  I hadn’t broken the rules of romance, but I’d bent them.

For cozies, my editor told me no foul language and when Jazzi and Ansel go in the bedroom, fade to black.  I can refer to them feeling frisky but it stays behind locked doors.  I’m fine with that, but some readers don’t even like them referring to their libidoes.  Some readers don’t like how much beer and wine they drink at meals.  And that’s all right with me.  They come to cozies expecting a CLEAN read.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write a good story, a good mystery.

If not cussing or having sex makes a writer inferior in some peoples’ minds, I don’t agree.  EVERY genre has a formula and comes with certain expectations.  Even literary.  It’s hard to write anything well.  And even if a genre isn’t one of my favorites, I can still appreciate the skill it takes to write it.

Whatever you’re working on now, good luck.  And happy writing!


10 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. I think readers go into books with certain expectations. I read Christian fiction (among others) and I remember the day when Frank Peretti (a huge name in the genre) dropped an F bomb in one of his books. There was a earthquake of shock!

    I also remembering trying to write an inspirational and being told my characters couldn’t drink or swear. Um…seriously? I’m not saying that everyone does, but a glass of wine with dinner or a “damn” “shit” or “Hell” here or there? I abandoned the genre, which is sad. I still read it, but I can’t write it.

    And as far as writers going after other writers and not supporting them? That’s just sad!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. An F-bomb would shock me in Christian fiction:) Wouldn’t expect it. But none of it’s the end of the world for me. It would bother some of my friends, though. And I get that. We all have different standards. But the writers belittling other writers I just don’t get.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s wonderful to hear that readers are getting informed about the difficulties writers encounter with review bullying. That’s what it is, the coward’s way to lash out. It is sad, not disheartening. Male readers, and certainly not all because my romance books have supportive men readers, have a difficult time with romance. Often it’s sappy or characters end up dead at the end (a la Hemingway). Women writers are not allowed those options. Of course, our readership wouldn’t like that. Informing readers is a better way to help writers cope with this issue. Kudos to Sherry Harris!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought Sherry Harris did a really good job on that blog, but people are people. You’re always going to get mostly good but a few difficult ones, no matter what job you do or who you deal with.


  5. I do think readers have specific expectations. And if writers follow the norms, great. The ones I struggle with are the people who read a genre they don’t like and then complain because of the content.

    I don’t give bad reviews, and I’m with you—courtesy is key. If we can’t support each other, who will? It’s too bad not everyone feels that way.

    Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a great vacation! I finished your book while we were in Florida. Once the plot got rolling, the pace was so fast, I flew through it. (And I’m a slow reader). REALLY ENJOYED IT! Curious when Landon will get to meet the small, gray alien who might (maybe) help defeat the big, mean ones????

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said. As writers, we should know that all writers put pieces of themselves in every story, every book. We don’t have to like what our fellow writers say or write, but we should treat them gently.

    Liked by 1 person

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