Posted by on 30th January 2019

Why Great Writing Matters—Even in Romance Novels

I was an avid reader long before I became a writer. As a kid growing up in a volatile household, books were my escape. A great book was one I could read over and over. One with great writing that let me keep getting lost in some special world far more interesting than the one I lived in.

Until about ten years ago, there was only one book that I could remember not finishing. Nowadays, I DNF more books than I finish – especially if the books happen to be free. The older I get, the less willing I am to give up and irreplaceable hour or two of my life to trudge through a poorly written book.

It’s now rare that I read a story so well-written that it makes me forget I’m reading. Instead I’m constantly jerked out of the narrative by poor grammar, flat writing, Illogical storyline or characters, and so many other issues that could have, and should have, been fixed.  “I didn’t spend near enough time writing and editing this to turn it into something amazing.”

This lack of great writing is primarily due to three things:

  • The ease with which anyone can self-publish a book (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with self-publishing—unless you skip the editing and proofreading parts).
  • The availability of free e-books.
  • The push for all authors—and especially romance authors—to keep putting out new content as fast as possible to stay visible and relevant and make money.

It’s sad.

E-books could have been the great equalizer, letting otherwise underrepresented authors gain an audience and make a living. Unfortunately, the advent of e-books, Amazon Unlimited, and social media as a promotion tool, also turned writing from a pursuit focused on quality, to one focused on quantity. And because romance readers are known for being particularly voracious, the pressure to produce is really on in that genre.

Nowadays it’s like every great book is a single, treasured pearl out of hundreds of thousands of oysters. One I deem well worth paying for.

Sometimes I question whether—now that I’m a romance author—my standards are too high. That because I can see behind the curtain, I’m too particular. Or that because I was a professional journalist and copywriter for years my expectations for quality writing are out of alignment with the genre. Then someone turns me on to an amazing read, and I’m reminded of how truly mind-blowing, and even life-altering, a kick-ass romance can be.

I want to write books like that. The kind of books I want to read. Books I can be proud to put out into the world. Ones filled with compelling, intimate, and adventurous stories, characters I love, and writing that sweeps readers deep into the outdoors.

Doing that takes a lot of time and thought and care and effort. And professional editing. Maybe my career will suffer because I’ll never be one of those romance authors who cranks out three or more books a year. I don’t care. I believe great writing is worth the work AND the wait.

Do you think overall book quality has suffered in the past few years? Why or why not? Please do share your thoughts and comments below.

 

Comments

  1. Adrie Budek
    1st February 2019

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    I agree with you 100%. I’ve recently gotten into M/M genre and I can’t tell you how many of the stories were obviously originally M/F. So many “hers” and “she” when should be “his” and “he”, etc. A female’s name when should have been male, etc. In the last book I just finished they kept misidentifying the characters over and over – Eric when it should have been Tom, etc. Also in same book, they kept jumping around among several characters, too many characters, no feeling that you’d ever get to a good place with any of the pairings… to the unsatisfying non-end.

    • stacyg6
      26th February 2019

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      Uggh. That is a special form of torture. All writers need good editors and proofreaders.

  2. Amy Donahue
    2nd February 2019

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    I totally agree with you. I have literally seen writers on Facebook saying they have plans to put out a dozen or more books this year and I’m thinking to myself there’s no way these could possibly be good. I don’t mind reading a bit of fluff now and then, but I also dnf A LOT of books . Life’s too short to read bad books. And good books are worth waiting for.

    • stacyg6
      26th February 2019

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      I KNOW all those books can’t be good. It’s just not possible to write that many great books, and get them edited and formatted, that fast. I was starting to feel it was just me, but I too DNF a lot of books. Sigh.

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