Waaay back in the day, I took a college English course on Romance Novels. (I love a good romance novel.) One of our assignments was to write a chapter of a romance in a particular style. I wrote a chapter of a Harlequin style contemporary romance. I struggled. A lot.
I got a pretty crummy grade, too, as I vaguely remember. But what I do remember is the red note penned by my prof at the bottom of my pitiful, painful chapter: “Why would you write in this style? Don’t you love historicals?”
At the time, I didn’t understand. Historicals were hard. Contemporary was supposed to be easy. I mean, no research, right?
After I participated in Nanowrimo last year, though, my professor’s comment finally made sense.
Write what you love.
Last year I wrote an urban fantasy novel. There are things I love and hate about the urban fantasy genre and my goal was to write a novel I would want to read. No angsty vampires. A strong female character who was not “the chosen one”. A story where she chooses the right guy over the exciting bad boy. And, oh–no elves. Not a single one.
Plotting and writing that novel was so easy, so smooth, and oh-so-satisfying. I think because I was writing what I loved.
This year I’ve already started thinking about my 2007 novel. I had this great idea about writing a romance with a beta hero (meaning a nice guy). But as I started doing character sketches I realized that I don’t read stories with beta heroes. I prefer romance novels with very strong, pushy, slightly scary alpha heroes. The more obsessed, the better. It’s a joke with my friends that the closer the male character is to a stalker, the more apt I am to love the book. (Please note I only enjoy this type of character safely within fiction. In real life, I’d be terrified.)
So why am I thinking about writing a beta hero? Because I think it might be easier? Safer? It won’t be easier. I’m already struggling with creating his character.
So I’m taking my own advice, and the advice of my long-ago professor: toss the beta-hero idea. Bring on my alpha hero!
I guess my point is this: If you like Elves, write elves. If you like chick lit, write chick lit. Write what you love. You’ll have a better, more fulfilling experience if you do.