I recently “outed” myself to a friend as a writer of contemporary romance. To date, very few people I know are aware that I have this other persona who writes women’s fiction by night and is tortured during business meetings because she would rather be thinking about the fictional characters rattling around in her brain. Anyway, I shared my work with this friend and she read one of my books and came back with a favorable review. Kind of.
“I liked it a lot,” she said. “But nothing actually happens.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Nothing happens,” she reiterated. “It’s just about the ups and downs of this relationship.”
So I mulled that over for awhile and decided that she was right. And she was also wrong.
While I’m still in the process of finding my voice and perfecting my craft, I know one thing for certain. I am not the kind of writer who cares much for action and intrigue. I don’t need there to be a murder, or a stalker or anything of the sort in my novels. In fact, I prefer that there not be any of those devices because in most of our lives, none of that stuff happens, and yet our lives are not static or boring, they are filled with intriguing occurrences that might at first blush appear to be of not much importance at all. What I try to do in my work is examine the progression of relationships through everyday occurrences.
Nights out with friends.
Interactions with family.
All of those situations are to me ripe with possibilities for characters to learn and grow. So I use a lot of inner dialogue and write from multiple (usually two) points of view.
In the book I’m working on now, ‘Secret’ – the main characters are in a relationship that they keep secret from others, and one of them has a secret from the other. I explore what it’s like to live with secrets and how that can color how we see the world and interact with others. The secret itself is somewhat explosive, but it isn’t the point of the story. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out because at this point I honestly have no clue. That’s one of the main joys of writing for me.
The outcome itself is secret, even from you, the writer.