Romance Author University: Writing Fiction in a Competitive Market by Rebecca Thomas
With so many books for sale, how can you compete? When I browse for ebooks I’m always overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books. There are so many choices. How can you make your story stand out from the rest?
Learning the craft of writing is such a daunting task all on its own, but after you complete a manuscript and put it up for sale—which is a huge accomplishment by the way—then you have to worry if anyone besides your family will ever buy it. No wonder a writer can feel like throwing in the proverbial “writing” towel.
We’ve all heard you should write the book of your heart and not to worry about the market. Well, that’s true to a point. If you don’t write what you love, your writing won’t sound authentic and real. If you don’t have your heart invested in your writing, then it’s unlikely what you write will be appealing to readers. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, but I think you understand what I’m saying.
How can your story be different from the next author?
One of the ways you can be unique and interesting is where you choose to set your book. I’ve been in workshops where the setting of a book has been referred to as a character. The setting is in every single scene. If your scene is outdoors imagine how the feeling of the scene can differ based on the weather, if it’s raining instead of the sun shining. Even if your entire scene is in an elevator, the elevator adds a certain voice and feeling to the story.
I’ve lived in Alaska my entire life—it’s what I know. I wrote an Alaska set romance and kind of grumbled about it because I didn’t think Alaska was all that exciting of a location, but when I sent it out to one of my critique partners she said she loved all the Alaskany details, and added that “we” love that kind of stuff. I don’t know if “we” means everyone, but she can’t be entirely wrong because look at all the shows on television that are set in Alaska. Those television networks know something. And furthermore, what Alaskany stuff? I didn’t even realize I was adding these details into my story because it’s what I live every day, it’s intrinsic to me, and my Alaska-set romances are authentic because of it.
But setting goes beyond location. Maybe you are a doctor's wife or your mom is a therapist or you are a nurse—you have a unique perspective of the world because you have an insider's view of medical practices—why not tap into that and create your "setting" in the medical field. People are interested in medicine. The details you add to your setting will be authentic because you are more familiar with that world than most people.
One of my critique partners was in the military and I’ve told her she should write a military romance—she scoffs at me because she isn’t interested in writing anything that has to do with the military. But imagine how authentic her stories would sound compared to someone like me writing the story, who’s never been in the military. Another critique partner worked for an attorney…well, you get the picture. Look at your world and how it’s different from others. Your career or job, the place you live, the places you’ve traveled, the things you cook, the people you hang out with. Maybe you have experience with a particular illness or disability. Maybe you have a musical background. Maybe you grew up without any toys. Whatever is different about you, you might think it’s not very interesting, you might think it’s silly, you might think it’s not worth writing about, but I challenge you to give it a try.
You view the world differently than anyone else. You have a perspective that’s unique; you just need to discover what it is. If you don’t think anything about you is unique or different—I disagree. Ask one of your critique partners, ask one of your friends, or drop me a line, I bet we can figure it out.
Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska, where she lives with her husband and two teen-aged sons. When she's not reading, writing, or playing board games, she's cheering for her sons at their hockey games and tennis matches. She writes historical and contemporary romantic fiction. To get in touch, visit her at www.authorrebeccathomas.com
After being left at the altar, California girl Sabrina Tate needs to make a fast getaway. With her famous overbearing parents and the paparazzi hot on her heels, where else is a jilted bride to go to lick her wounds but Alaska? With only her tropical honeymoon clothes in tow, she makes her escape. For two weeks, she’ll live on her own and prove to herself—and her family—that she can make it without a husband.
Zak Forrester is a man on a mission. He’s turned his rugged yet luxurious Alaskan lodge into a hotspot for hunters, all in the hope to make up for a painful event in his past. But when Sabrina—one of the rare women to enter his rugged realm—stumbles into his world, he can’t get rid of her fast enough. He has no time for her yoga, vegetarian meal requests, or Scrabble.
Soon, neither can resist the other, and two hearts collide. With time ticking away, they have to decide where they belong. Is a life in a different world better than being a world apart?