So last night as I did the exercise bike I finished up a book by an author I love. I’m not going to say her name because I do love her and I still plan to snap up every book she writes but if I hadn’t been stuck on the bike for 40 minutes (and is it just me or does space/time actually slow when you’re exercising?) I wouldn’t have finished.
The thing is, any book has to have a universe with rules. A contemporary is easy enough that you’ve got rules already there and you as an author need to decide what to include or not include (for instance, I always have my characters use condoms, if they’re parents I write them actually parenting, that sort of thing, we all have our own little issues we put out there).
Paranormals are fun because you get to make up rules. This is why I love writing paranormals so much. I can write around STDs and cancer, hell, I can write around the need to sleep or even gravity if I choose. But whatever I choose, I have to be aware of that universe and those rules and stick with the rules or it’s a glaring issue. Usually editors catch you out on stuff you miss and if you’re lucky, they write you funny little notes on track changes about it. If not, they frown at you and point it out.
Rules also include basic character behaivor and progression. I was saying yesterday to a friend that a book shouldn’t be wall to wall plot devices instead of wall to wall plot. Don’t gimmick me to death – write a story. Biggest rule in my reader handbook, “Thou Shalt Only Use One Big Cliche Per Story”
So this book I read violated that one in a big way as well as having the H/H violate my other rules.
Anyway, every author on the planet has used a cliche. After all, cliches are powerful. But more than one of them in a book begins to feel like wallpaper instead of actual story. Secret baby – okay. But Secret baby, amnesia, secretary, billionaire, saucy heroine, drug abuse, childhood abuse, bad first marriage, etc – it’s too much and the story gets lost with all those markers.
Give me characters I want to read about and tell me their story.