Top 3 Romance Writing Books For Those Who Like To Follow Rules
Are you a rule follower? It’s okay if you are. Many romance writers, beginning and advanced, feel more comfortable writing if they have guidelines and rules to follow. There are many writing rules. All you have to do is search “romance writing” and you’ll be inundated with them.
For example, one rule I remember, and immediately broke, was the rule that you shouldn’t have a prologue. I took the attitude of a spoiled brat with my first book, Cheating Time. I wanted a prologue and the heck with the rules. It helped that my writing instructor at the time said that he thought the rule was a good one but that he liked the pacing of my prologue. I took it as permission and ran with it.
A good friend of mine and a fellow writer suggested that it’s a good idea to know the rules and understand the reason behind them before you decide to break them. It’s good advice. And to that end I’ve compiled what I believe are the 3 best rules for writing books.
#1 Stephen King – On Writing
I’ve read Mr. King’s book a half dozen times and each time I read it, I learn something new. It’s both a memoir and a writing rules book. It’s ideal if you’re inclined to write commercial fiction and while Stephen King is known as a horror author, fundamentally he is a storyteller and all good romance novels start with a compelling story. This is a book to buy in paperback so that you can re-read it, highlight it, and dog ear the pages. And yes, it’s packed with “Rules.” Here’s one of my favorites:
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
#2 Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
I stumbled upon this book and have read it over several times. It is both instructional and will grab you by the heart as Ms. Lamott is a beautiful storyteller who masterfully intertwines instruction with personal examples. Again, this is a book to grab in paperback because you’ll want to share it with friends. Just make sure they’re the type of friends who return books when they’re done because you’ll want to hang onto this one. Favorite “Rule”…
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
#3 Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
Admittedly, I’ve broken all of these rules at one point or another but they’re good rules with a solid foundation in good writing fundamentals. And this book should be purchased in print because the drawings that accompany the rules are entertaining and worthy of framing alongside the rule. It’s a quick book that’s easy to read and enjoyable – much like Leonard’s writing style. It gets right to the point and makes the short trip entertaining. Here’s my favorite rule and one that I do abide by almost religiously…
“Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
What about you? What are your favorite “Rules” and romance writing books? Do you abide by the rules or are you a rule breaker and why?