After four years of attending writing seminars and conferences and providing critique for my husband’s novels, I caught the writing bug. This particular illness is not fatal, nor is it contagious. However, it is untreatable. Once infected, no vaccine offers a cure. Symptoms of this infection are unique to the patient.
My first symptom was to jump right in and write. In my case, after years of devouring mysteries and thrillers, I began my first manuscript-a romance. What did I know about writing a romance? Nothing.
My second symptom created conflict. Every novel I read required my personal inspection. I monitored for technique, use of POV, accurate use of third person, strong verbs (show versus tell), active voice instead of passive, and a story full of conflict and tension.
Believe me when I say, this inspection slowed down my reading time. But in doing so I identified published authors who followed their own set of writing rules. I seems authors with a large readership, a high priced agent, and a large publishing house can clearly break the rules I learned at conferences..
I recently enjoyed a Christian romance novel by Kristen Heitzman, The Still of Night. Her novel grabbed me from the prologue to the end. She developed her characters artfully, and with great care. The tension and conflict arrived on page one. Her method of spinning the tale, continued to draw me in.
Her ability to use the five senses as she introduced the settings was inspirational. As a reader, I could smell and hear the ocean, taste the oranges freshly picked from the tree outside the balcony, and clutched my own cramping stomach when the protagonist felt emotional pain.
Kristen Heitzmann, however, did head-hopping between the two main characters. The story would flow from the female’s dialog, internal monolog, action and then flow to the male character allowing him the same latitude. I must say, for me, it enhanced the scenes. She performed the exchange of information like a pro. I highly recommend her novels for anyone wanting a good Christian romance read.
Some day, when my manuscript is supported by an agent and a publishing house, I plan to break a few rules, too. I’m not sure which ones yet. But the magic will work when I do.