According to Harlequin Romance HQ, "2011 is the year of unpredictability" for romance readers and writers.
What does that mean?
I think achieving unpredictability in our writing involves one or more of those elusive qualities we can't pin down, but we can pen down. Know what I mean?
But, if you're an aspiring romance author, then you're probably wondering how to achieve this unpredictability, especially if you're targeting a category romance line that promises -- I mean pinkies crossed, spit-in-the-hand promises -- a certain type of reader fulfillment.
For example, I'm targeting Harlequin Desire, which means I must write stories that are "powerful, passionate and provocative."
How do I fulfill that promise, plus the guarantee of a happily ever after, all while keeping my stories unpredictable? Sounds like a riddle, doesn't it? Please leave your answers as comments below this post. : )
Here are a few of my tricks of the trade, so to speak.
1. Characters. Delve into characterization. Make your characters individuals. (See previous post.) Avoid character cliches. (I always think of the wicked step-mother. Poor thing, she must be exhausted.)
2. Avoid the typical journey. When it's time for your hero or heroine to act, make a decision, etc., what immediately springs to your mind. Jot down this idea , then ask yourself: what if they did something different? Jot down these ideas, as well. Now look closely. Is the action in keeping with that character? Is it unique? Does it add depth and dimension or is it just a plot device? Does it make sense? How does it add to the tension, conflict?
3. What novels are on your keeper shelf? Why are they there? Go back and re-read your favorites with a critical eye. What was special, unique about them? What stands out? You can't copy these ideas, but you can use them as inspiration.
4. This is more a mind trick, than a writing trick, but I'll share it anyway. Even though I know, and my readers know, that I will deliver the promised happily ever after, while they're reading my novels I want them to wonder: are the hero and heroine really going to end up together? I want them to have that nervous, tingling-palms sensation. I want them to flip to the back of the book to make sure the couple is going to get their happily ever after, breathe a sigh of relief, then get back to reading.
So, there it is.
"2011 is the year of unpredictability."
I want that bumper sticker. : )