What attracts you to a book? Seriously think about it. Walking around a bookstore and seeing all the titles for the first time, seeing all the authors for the first time, what makes you pick up that book? As a reader I’m guilty of looking at the cover, then reading the title (the author only gets my attention if I’m a fan already) then I turn over and read the blurb to make the final decision. Is it for me?
As an author I’m my own worst nightmare. For me, writing is about making anything happen. As an author, you’re in control of your characters, the world they live in and the story you’re trying to tell. You can do anything you want to as long as your imagination can make it work. But it’s not as simple as it sounds, is it?
I’ll share with you a problem I came across when finishing the first draft of Life’s A Ball?
When I think of contemporary romance/romantic comedy genres, I think primarily female readers who are between 16-65 years old. I think strong female main characters that have the typical self-deprecating flaws, drop dead gorgeous males causing a bit of a drool fest and broken hearts, with a falling in love, a falling out, a happily ever after and by the end of it all the characters will be better off from their experience. Oh and let’s not forget a little bit of sizzle and a little bit of comedy too.
From the cover of most novels that fit into these genres, the above description is pretty much what you’d expect. Very few step outside this norm. But what I was finding with Life’s A Ball? ’s female lead was, as a believable character, Elle couldn’t follow the stereotypical characterization. In turn, the male lead wouldn’t follow the stereotype of a male lead and this had a ripple effect on the plot, right up to the climatic ending and those final words before ‘The End’.
My heart was saying go with the character, as long as the writing was good enough to carry out such a dramatic twist. Or rather than doing what she would do, should I listen to my head was saying and bend to the genre specifications. It wasn’t until I spoke to my beta readers about the first draft did I make the final decision about which direction I took.
My novel is different to its stereotype while keeping the style of its genre. Why would I want anyone to judge my book by its cover?