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Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Readers Rights – Seven Do’s and Don’ts for Romance Authors
I’m posting this list of romance reader’s rights as a lifetime reader. But I’m hearing this list as a writer. 

1..    Don’t be inconsistent. I have a right to consistency. Do not tell me your character took the train to visit mom and dad and then drove herself home! (read this in a romance from a major publisher who shall remain nameless).
2..     Don’t use “author’s magic”, which some writers use when they are stuck. They have a character who is in the way…so they conveniently kill him off. Or they throw something or someone in out of nowhere to bail out the plot. I don’t want convenience. Don’t wave your magic wand and throw something in the story to force your plot to work when you have painted yourself into a “plot” corner. I want stories to unfold naturally and make logical sense. Don’t kill off the ex-husband suddenly so your heroine can ride into the sunset with her hunky, new squeeze and take junior with her. That insults my intelligence.

3..     Don’t make heroines dumb. I hate stupid heroines. Don’t make her an idiot simply to force your plot to work. If your plot isn’t working, fix it. “She heard a noise and went to investigate the dark, lonely basement on her own, unarmed.” If your heroine is doing stupid things, I’m going to stop reading.

4..     Don’t call a character Mary in one scene then Jane in another. If you can’t remember the details of your book, how do you expect me to remember? Typos happen, but big mistakes like that are unacceptable.

5..     No sudden changes. Is your hero a creep who “suddenly” sees the light and becomes Prince Charming overnight? I don’t buy it. Come on, you can do better than that!

6..     Make your heroine likable. If I don’t like her, I’m going to stop reading. Bitchy, spoiled, vengeful heroines don’t work for me.

7.       Be accurate, especially with the setting and the facts. If seagulls don't live in the state you're writing about, leave them out! If there are no mountains there, you can't put in mountains. Nothing ruins a story more than a lazy writer deciding she or he can mess with what's real because she/he's writing fiction. Totally untrue.

What did I miss? Do you have some pet peeves with authors? not covered here? Please add them in a comment.

 Get "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights" ebook still only $1.99 for a bit longer at:
Astraea Press (all formats)Check out this review:

A little bit about the book:

Caroline “Sunny” Davis has it all, a rich husband, career as a well-known artist and a big, beautiful house, she has everything except happiness. Fleeing from a philandering husband, she returns to her family’s cabin in the woods. Looking to reconnect with happier times while she sorts out her life, Sunny is surprised to meet up with someone she hasn’t seen in twenty years.

Mike Foster, her friend, her protector from childhood is more handsome and devastating than ever. Tempted almost beyond endurance, can she resist him…if it’s for his own good? This story about rekindled friendship will warm your heart.


An Open Book said...

You have to have tour hero and heroine likable- and the you must have a hatred for your antagonist- Great post Jean and very true- I write out index cards with each character- all their personality traits, physical appearances, etc
Dawne P

Sue Brown said...

Don't add tantalising plot developments and then never talk about them again!

Ooops. I did do one of your above, but it took several years and was integral to the whole plot.

Jean said...

Thanks, Dawne. Good to know you are so careful to keep things consistent.

Jean said...

Right, Sue! If you're going to tantalize me, dammit, resolve it!

kayspringsteen said...

Keep it fair for the reader. Don't decide in the last third of the book to write in a character just so he/she can be the villain. give the reader a chance to get to know the antagonist from the start.

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy said...

I loved these and agree - especially with setting. I still have a major issue with a best selling, well known author who was so far off on a location in Arkansas that it wasn't even funny, inexcusable when a little Google research could have educated her!

Jean said...

So right, Kay. Thanks for your comment.

Meg said...

All very good points, Jean! My pet peeves are the TSTL heroines. If they're too stupid, hand 'em over to mystery murder writer. ;-D

Michael said...

Thats a great blog Jean!

I hear ya. I have one more as a gay writer and reader.

Please do not write about gay sex without facts.

Ask, read more gay romances and or erotica. If you want to write about it please do your research first. Don't just throw it in there as a sidebar. As you said, must come naturally