In the midst of my hectic schedule I’m squeezing in some time to work on my manuscript. I’m in the early phase of my post-Genesis recovery, so I’m not actually writing yet. Instead, I’m carefully working my way through James Scott Bell’s “Plot and Structure”.
At the end of Chapter 1 he issues a challenge. Fill in the blanks: “When readers read my novels, I want them to ___________ at the end. That’s because, to me, novels are __________.” After you fill in those blanks, he says to write for 10 minutes about that statement – no pausing or editing, just 10 minutes of solid writing. This is what I came up with:
When readers read my novels, I want them to feel happy and encouraged at the end. That’s because, to me, novels are a break from reality.
there are enough hardships in life. Terrible things happen every day- people die, kids get sick, hope fails. I don’t need to read about that in the “fake world”, too. Make-believe is where anything can happen, and it should: Doctors cure cancer, fat women are desirable, and the work day stops for long lunches and shopping sprees.
There’s nothing fun about distressing a reader over a realistic dilemma. Give him or her a few days (or years) and they’ll experience enough tragedy. A novel is a way to forget that. It’s an escape from the tragic and the mundane in their own lives. There shouldn’t be a sad ending – love should always prevail.
This isn’t a naive, optimist world view. In face, it’s quite the opposite – it’s the most realistic view that there is.
We all have the chance to choose love. God is love, and we can always choose him. When we choose God, life doesn’t matter. Our circumstances don’t matter. The only thing that matters is God – loving him, knowing him, living for him. We need love because we need God. For that reason it doesn’t matter what the book says, as long as there is love.
And there is no better example of God’s love for his people than the picture of a husband and wife. So many people write about sex and lust, but that will always leave readers wanting. LOVE is what matters. LOVE is what changes people. It makes things happen because it moves people to action.
There’s no better way to show the love of God in a story than to show a holy, biblical love between a man and a woman who want to get married, because that’t what God wants from each of us. We are the bride of Christ.
After I finished writing that, I re-read it. Then I realized that I’m trying to write in the wrong genre. I should be writing romance (everything I write has romance in it anyway). So there you have it – instead of trying to write women’s fiction and add romantic elements, I’m going to focus on the romance part.
Phase I complete – genre clarified.