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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I'm Guilty, Are You?

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?


For More Opinions on Judging A Book By It's Cover See the Fellow Writers Blog Hop. 


  1. Erin, good for you for against stereotype for your characters. Formulaic books may be easier to write but they get very boring after awhile to read. Book covers do speak to the buyer, and again, the ones that look like every other book don't interest me.
    I'd like to think the author took some time come up with a good cover, or at least had a say with the publisher - though that's not always the case. The packaging is important.

  2. the genre bit is a bind I think - ties an author into a straight jacket - had the same trouble with Ekken - not really sci fi tho' in the future and although I settled for dystopian it's not really that either - good for you to go your own way

  3. Great post :) Your book sounds like my kind of read. I like characters that go against the grain:)

  4. I too like characters that aren't predictable. I've had a few reviewers comment that the thing they liked best about my book was the believable main character, that they could very closely identify with her, even though she wasn't "typical". That was the highest praise I could imagine!

  5. I agree that going with what you want your characters to be is good. If you stick with "what sells" just because people want you to, you might as well be commiting writer suicide... Not in the sense that you won't get your stuff published, but in the sense that your muse will disappear leaving you empty and alone... That's the way I see it anyway.


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All characters have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation to anyone baring the same name. They are not inspired by an individual known or unknown by the author and all incidents are pure invention.

The articles, excerpts, and other written work published under the pseudonym Erin Cawood are copyright protected by the author. Guest articles are published by arrangement and also copyright protected by the guest author.

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