I have been writing for Steeple
Hill’s Love Inspired line since 2000 and have enjoyed creating over
eighteen Love Inspired and nine Love Inspired Suspense books, some
still to come out at the end of this year and in 2009. Writing for a
category inspirational romance publisher has challenged me and helped
me to grow as a writer.
I’ve learned a lot
category romances. First and foremost, I’ve learned how to tell a story
in a concise way. People don’t have time to read a boring book. So
stories must pull the reader in, and do so quickly. To do this I had to
learn to pick and choose what was important to tell the reader, which
isn’t always that easy to see, especially when you are so close to the
story. The hero and heroine should be introduced in the first chapters
so the reader gets a sense of who the protagonists are in the present
before they learn about how the got in their current predicament.
But often writers—especially new
ones—want to jump in and explain everything at the beginning so the
reader will “understand.” That was the way it was done when I first
started writing years ago. We often took a chapter or so to let the
readers discover who the main characters were before we really
introduce the conflicts between them. Not anymore—which leads me to
another reason I write for category. I like immediate buy-in, and based
on sales figures, I’d say most readers want the same thing. Romance
sales continue to increase every year, so something is bringing readers
back. That’s the “something” a great romance must contain, or no one
will buy any more books from the author—especially one who puts them to
Telling a fast paced story is
what keeps today’s reader turning the page. Nothing is more encouraging
than receiving a note from a reader saying a novel I wrote kept them up
because they couldn’t stop
reading my book. That is one of
the highest honors I could receive from a reader. My goal is always to
keep the reader pulled in.
Up until recently I taught at a
high school. I discovered that the teens I worked with thought most of
the classic novels were boring. When I studied those novels, I could
see their point. It took quite a while to get into the story. The books
were wordy and the authors often padded the basic story. I wanted these
students to learn to love reading as I do so I looked at books that
told a compelling story that was fast paced. These same teens are used
to a story being told in an hour on a television show. If the show
didn’t grab their attention, they used the remote and moved on to
another show. A category romance story requires an author to tell a
story quickly (or should), and to choose her words carefully. There is
little room for unnecessary information in the stories because they are
intended to be fast reads that can be consumed in one sitting.
The best requirement for a
category romance is that there must always be a happy ending (which is
another reason I read and write category stories—I love a happy
ending), but the crux of the story is in how the characters get there.
Millions of people read category romances and keep coming back because
they enjoy a happy ending. That’s one of the reasons they keep reading,
but what intrigues them is how the author gets the hero and heroine
together—the conflicts, the type of characters portrayed, and in my
line, what part their faith plays in their lives. So when people pick
up a category romance, they know how the book will end. The fun part is
reading how the couple got there.
I’ve been blessed to have the
best of both worlds. I get to write a romance story and a romantic
suspense by writing for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books.
I love to write an emotional story but also a story with a mystery and
suspense element (not to mention a faith element) that offers hope to
the reader. After reading one of these, you walk away with a better
view of love and a relationship with the opposite sex, and more
importantly, hope. And hope is so important in today’s world. It’s what
keeps us going.