My Personal Writing Style
Let's face it, picking up an author who's new-to-you is a huge leap of faith.
An emotional/psychological investment. Unless you got the book for free, it's also a financial investment.
Honestly, that's a big call.
While everyone has a preferred genre and a preferred style, and even J. R. R. Tolkien isn't everyone's cup of tea, you probably want to know a bit about my personal writing preferences before you climb into my head. Fair enough. I'd wanna know.
I'm a reader first, and a writer second. For me, they go hand-in-hand. As the saying goes, "Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out." So, it comes as no surprise that I like to write similar stories to the ones I like to read/watch (you can check out my favourites here).
Well, here goes...
I DISLIKE reading/writing stories where:
either of the two main characters dies. Yes, I know death is part of life, but seriously, I just can't take that kind of stress. Not since I read Veronica Roth's Allegiant and raged about the ending for a week. I sincerely promise I will never invite you to invest in a female or male lead, only for them to die on you.
there's no action *yawn*. I'm not into car chases, so if you're looking for that, maybe put on The Blues Brothers or something, but at the same time, I like action. Gimme pirates, elves, smugglers, dragons, thieves... just all-round adventure. I was raised on Famous Five, so I am mildly obsessed with treasure, treasure islands, treasure planets, mysterious moors, craggy mountains, etc.
nothing's at stake for the main characters *yawns again*. Bland and boring characters put me to sleep. Even worse than that is the "novel of misunderstandings" where the drama would be all solved if the characters had a five minute conversation with each other and talked everything out. Maybe this is just the psychologist in me, but humans are more complex than that, right?
the villains aren't villainous enough, or, worse, there's no villain at all. I love villains with complex motivations who have elements of good and evil. I enjoy a good redemption arc. It makes for that "high stakes" thing. Overall, the more villains, the merrier. My debut series, The Darcentaria Duology, has three of them. They possess different levels of badness with very different motives.
bad character traits are romanticised. Yes, I enjoy a good redemptive arc, but I hate reading about male leads whose behaviour would constitute stalking or domestic violence in real life, but in the world of the novel is considered swoon-worthy or romantic. Let's stop promoting the idea that a "bad boy" can be reformed through the love of a good woman, or that a notorious womaniser can embrace monogamy simply because he's finally met the right girl. And that whole Edward watching Bella sleep in Twilight thing? That was creepy, not romantic. Nice boys knock on the front door before asking to wordlessly witness your slumber.
both the male and the female lead are exceptionally good-looking and/or their romance is based completely on physical attraction. My stories feature beautiful leads and handsome leads and ordinary-looking leads, but never as a rule. And while chemistry is important, beauty is fleeting, so I'm more interested in reading/writing characters who are attracted to traits like kindness, compassion, honesty, and courage.
I LIKE reading/writing stories where:
it's not all doom-and-gloom, and humour breaks up the more serious parts. If you've read this far, you'll know that I love to have fun as much as I love to be serious. Life is too depressing to write nihilistic stories. I want to make you laugh and cry at the same time.
there's a romantic subplot. I don't usually like the romance to be the main focus of the story, which is why I love fantasy and historical fiction, but I'm definitely a romantic at heart. I love strong male and female leads and I love it when their romance is convincing and even stirring. It doesn't have to be about the physical stuff, either. John Thornton and Margaret Hale in North and South, anyone? Or Matthew Macfadyen's Mr Darcy hand flex?
there's a happy ending for (at least) the two main characters. Yes, I know this doesn't happen all the time in real life, and writers should definitely write books that reflect this. My second-favourite movie is Life is Beautiful, so I'm not married to happily-ever-afters (HEAs) as a rule in what I read. Besides, good fiction should always rock your world a little. BUT, as already mentioned, I'm still carrying scars from past emotional betrayals, and there's an unspoken rule in the fantasy genre that good triumphs over evil in the end. So, at this stage in my life, I'm writing HEAs and confining my tragic reflections on life to my blog.
stories that speak to the soul. Many of the stories we consume these days are geared only to entertain, shock, or titillate. But it wasn't always this way. Historically, people read stories for a wide range of reasons - to learn, to challenge/change their point-of-view, to travel, to explore, to tease something out, to wrestle with something weighty. I'm not a writer of fluffy stories. Nor do I like preachy ones. But I like stories where you come away changed at the end in some small way. Stories which make you think. Stories which open your mind, and move your heart, and maybe even feed your soul. And those are the stories you take with you long after you've closed the book, right?
If you feel a little more reassured about climbing into my head now, then please check out my books!
(Credit: Jared Rice)
Alternatively, if reading this has made you deeply concerned for my sanity, well... there's nothing you can do about that.