Why I write what I do

» Posted on Jan 31, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Why I write what I do

I have been writing for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line since 2000 and have enjoyed creating over nineteen Love Inspired and eleven Love Inspired Suspense books, some still to come out in 2009 and 2010. Writing for a category inspirational romance publisher has challenged me and helped me to grow as a writer.

I’ve learned a lot writing category romances. First and foremost, I’ve learned how to tell a story in a concise way. People don’t have time to read a boring book. So stories must pull the reader in, and do so quickly. To do this I had to learn to pick and choose what was important to tell the reader, which isn’t always that easy to see, especially when you are so close to the story. The hero and heroine should be introduced in the first chapters so the reader gets a sense of who the protagonists are in the present before they learn about how the got in their current predicament.

But often writers—especially new ones—want to jump in and explain everything at the beginning so the reader will “understand.” That was the way it was done when I first started writing years ago. We often took a chapter or so to let the readers discover who the main characters were before we really introduce the conflicts between them. Not anymore—which leads me to another reason I write for category. I like immediate buy-in, and based on sales figures, I’d say most readers want the same thing. Romance sales continue to increase every year, so something is bringing readers back. That’s the “something” a great romance must contain, or no one will buy any more books from the author—especially one who puts them to sleep.

Telling a fast paced story is what keeps today’s reader turning the page. Nothing is more encouraging than receiving a note from a reader saying a novel I wrote kept them up all night because they couldn’t stop reading my book. That is one of the highest honors I could receive from a reader. My goal is always to keep the reader pulled in.

Up until recently I taught at a high school. I discovered that the teens I worked with thought most of the classic novels were boring. When I studied those novels, I could see their point. It took quite a while to get into the story. The books were wordy and the authors often padded the basic story. I wanted these students to learn to love reading as I do so I looked at books that told a compelling story that was fast paced. These same teens are used to a story being told in an hour on a television show. If the show didn’t grab their attention, they used the remote and moved on to another show. A category romance story requires an author to tell a story quickly (or should), and to choose her words carefully. There is little room for unnecessary information in the stories because they are intended to be fast reads that can be consumed in one sitting.

The best requirement for a category romance is that there must always be a happy ending (which is another reason I read and write category stories—I love a happy ending), but the crux of the story is in how the characters get there. Millions of people read category romances and keep coming back because they enjoy a happy ending. That’s one of the reasons they keep reading, but what intrigues them is how the author gets the hero and heroine together—the conflicts, the type of characters portrayed, and in my line, what part their faith plays in their lives. So when people pick up a category romance, they know how the book will end. The fun part is reading how the couple got there.

I’ve been blessed to have the best of both worlds. I get to write a romance story and a romantic suspense by writing for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books. I love to write an emotional story but also a story with a mystery and suspense element (not to mention a faith element) that offers hope to the reader. After reading one of these, you walk away with a better view of love and a relationship with the opposite sex, and more importantly, hope. And hope is so important in today’s world. It’s what keeps us going.