A Different Kind Of Girl
A long time ago, pretty early in my writing “career” (at that time it was still “delusions of grandeur”, lol), a brilliant editor said to me, “You’re going to have to decide the tone that you want to move forward with for your voice and your book…and stick with it.” She said also that my propensity for blending genres—like humor and murder, for example—would put readers off and likely keep me from publishing. It was hard to hear, of course, and incredibly hard to implement, but I really tried to take her advice to heart.
Alas, I failed.
I couldn’t seem to separate the parts of my voice that were simply…me. And let’s face it, I’m weird. In my family, we were brought up to temper the bitter with the sweet. Life is hard enough, try to find something to be happy about in every situation, if only to get through it. It’s just how I think, so I was getting pretty worried now, absolutely sure I would never, ever, sell a book because my stories were just too…different.
I’m not a secrets person, mostly because I cannot lie to save my life, not even on paper. It just never comes out believable. I’m a talker—blame my middle-child nature, I had five siblings and played moderator way too often to let things fester—so, consequently, so are my characters. They generally talk about their issues as they come up or damn quickly afterward, so that blows my simple conflict routes. And I absolutely can’t stand a drama queen, so there’s not many hystronics in my books either. What I generally have are adults facing complicated situations the best way they can while trying to not only keep their dignity, but also do the right thing for everyone involved.
Yeah, I was pretty sure I was doomed.
But then another brilliant editor said something to me that saved my life…and hopefully my career. She said, “Character Is King.” According to her, it’s not really the situation or the convoluted responses that bring a reader into a story. It’s the dimensionality of the characters. If they were real, the readers would connect to them and follow them on their adventures.
I love that editor.
Suddenly, I started thinking, hey, maybe I CAN do this! Maybe my people—adults trying to cope—even if they do so in an awkward or funny or distant way—could be the kinds of characters romance readers might enjoy after all. I mean really, who hasn’t laughed at a funeral? Who hasn’t said the wrong thing at a wedding? Who hasn’t smiled through tears or wanted to stand up to someone who can hurt you?
So I admit it. I try to make my characters real, faults and all. They’re awkward, they’re pretty without being plain or perfect. They have kids who throw up on them and siblings who fight with them and they make mistakes without flipping their hair over their shoulder and storming off. And they do all these things whether they’re in a comedy, a mystery, an erotic romance or a suspense.
It wasn’t that the first editor was wrong. Or that the second editor was right. It was simply that I had to learn who I was as a writer and also learn to find strengths in what made me different. Eh, well, I’m still learning that, of course, and not everyone loves all my work, but that’s okay. I keep a lot of sweet in my pocket for just those occasions.
So tell me, what do you consider one of your personal strengths? Was it a trial to discover it or something you’ve always known about yourself?
Every reader who comments will be entered into a drawing for a free ebook from my backlist, so be sure to post!
Hope to hear from you,
Dee Tenorio has a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does.
The best part is, no more therapy bills!
Well, not for Dee, anyway. Her husband and kids, on the other hand…
If you would like to learn more about Dee and her work, please visit her website at www.deetenorio.com or her blog at http://www.deetenorio.com/Blog/.
Thanks Dee! What a thought provoking post.