Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Writing Contemporary

I find it interesting that when a contemporary comes across my desk, I am frequently rejecting it on the simple grounds that the story lacked significant depth. On the other hand, when I receive a historical, paranormal or even those fantasies and sci-fi's (which I reject anyway because I don't accept it) the issue of depth never comes up. Why is this?

I am not really sure on this but I can certainly take my guesses on this one. Writers seem to forget the rule that we have never done it or seen it before. This is a new experience for the reader as we work our way through your story. The writer, however, seems to stick with the idea that we all know what these modern day things look like since we are living in that world today. Ahhh, while that might be true, the situation, with that character, at that particular moment is not new.

All of the world building elements that you use in those historicals and paranormals have to be used as well in the contemporary romances. You have to bring us into the story. Failing to do so will simply force the reader to follow a basic plot line and a whole heap of dialogue. In the end, we are sitting on the outside looking in and this is far from what you want with a romance, which remember, is a relationship story. You want the reader to feel all of the emotion that the characters are going through.

There is another element that contemporary writers might be taking in. They want to simply focus on the relationship and not worry about all of that extra world building. That is fine. I have not problem with that. That is a significant benefit to writing those contemporary romances. We simply don't have to research that time period to great depths, or, if it is a fantasty and the like, create that world. But... (yes, you knew that was coming)... you have to still provide that same level of depth.

Check out Debbie Macomber. Her stories plop you right in the middle of those small towns and make you feel as if you are right there.

So, go back and do a little research. Take us into those stories with much more depth. Besides, based on the comments from RWA Nationals, editors would love to see some of those great contemporaries right now. And I should add, I have been begging for them from the beginning. Just think Contemporaries that read like Historicals.


1 comment:

  1. Scott, that is great advice, and really nails why I feel kind of blah about some contemporaries I read. I see world building (or layering) in historical romance and paranormals, but not as much in contemporary romance.