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Monday, June 20, 2011


Or Do We?

I recently re-read two long time favorite books of mine: Rosemary Rogers Sweet Savage Love (and the rest that followed in the series) and Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. While quite different in voice, both books offer very much the same in presentation.

They both have action, adventure, good guys, bad guys, travel exotic places (maybe we don’t think travel to England exotic, but to a Gascon of hundreds of years ago, I think it equates with our version of exotic), intrigue and romance. Oh yes, The Three Musketeers is a romance with all the requisite trappings. In some ways it is four romances because there are, at the end, four Musketeers.

Many, if not most, romance readers and writers fell in love with the genre thanks to Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Diana Galbadon contributed to the mix and Jamie and Claire live on through generations of fans.

We have changed in our tastes in some ways since Mr. Dumas wrote in the 19th century and Ms. Rogers in the late 20th. The version of The Three Musketeers I read was 730 pages and Sweet Savage Love isn’t far behind at 636 in what appears to be 8 pitch font. If an author were to pitch D’Artagnan and his compatriots story today I have no doubt it would be suggested to the author to write a four book series; one for each of the heroes. If Sweet Savage Love were to cross an editor’s desk today I imagine that it would be suggested as well that the book be divided into two stories – and clean up the points of view please!

When I first read Ms. Rogers’ earlier books every character in a scene had an opportunity to have their point of view shown. It really didn’t bother me and it certainly didn’t when I re-read it recently. Interestingly to me, Dumas had very clear points of view. One character ruled in his or her scene. And one scene made me chuckle because it began “It was a dark and stormy night.” All this time I thought Snoopy had cornered that phrase.

When I choose a book to read I look for certain things. With so many books and so little time, choosing can be a major event because I want only the best of the best in reading. I want some action, I want to travel to a different time and place, to experience everything about those times—by the way, Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander are wonderful for bringing those experiences to life with their descriptions of rooms, houses, parks, clothing and food. At times you know just how that Vienna torte would taste on your tongue. I want a bit of mystery and some suspense. It’s always good to see the bad guy get theirs.

Most of all, I want romance. I suppose that is obvious when you are talking about writing and reading romance – but that is the most important element to me – a palpable, intense romance that will endure through time. There is nothing like that happily ever after feelings and the hope that it will be a part of my life.

I’ve heard two editors speak to the length of paragraphs in ebooks—so the text will fit easily on a page paragraphs shouldn’t be too long. Dumas had a few that ran on for over two pages! Admittedly they did get me a bit lost—and that was in the print book! A rather hefty one that weighed four pounds! And yes, we do see some longer tomes come out way, witness Karen Marie Monings’ Shadowfever in hardback!

When Dumas wrote there were few readers and books were written for the duration. Families would gather round and the characters became part of those families because in the stories lasted longer. No quick novellas to be finished off in one evenings’ entertainment. No, the stories became part of the family’s life for a time.

And today editors are sticklers for purism in points of view. Despite the fact there are two people in that bed making love, we see only one point of view at a time. I miss having both of them there with me as I read their scenes.

But the bottom line for all of us, I think, is we will want a good story. Be it a short story, novella or full length, we are still look for a story that draws us in, takes us to a different place, moves us emotionally and stays in our memory for a long time to come. We may have changed in terms of format and length, but we still want a good tale to carry with us. 

From earliest childhood Regan was an avid reader and upon discovering Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens she was hooked on books that carried the reader away to a different time and place. Preferring the quiet of her room and a good book to spending time with people she traveled far beyond those four walls.

It was while working as a police dispatcher, first for the California Highway Patrol and then her local police department, she began to write fiction, primarily time travels and romantic suspense. In the spring of 2009 she returned to the day job she always liked best, working as a legal secretary. Although, curled up in her bunny slippers with her furfaced children, Mel, Missy and Bogie, while writing is one of her most favorite things to do. 

 Please check out her website.


Angela Claire said...

The purism in point of view is an interesting contrast between the two books. I had never heard of this head hopping thing (or noticed it) until I began writing myself. I agree with you that I think different points of view in a scene can be handled just fine (Sweet Savage Love being an excellent point in case). I wonder why editors are so obsessed with it these days.

Tianna Xander said...

I've stayed pretty much the same throughout the years. I've always read romance, though I also read and write erotica now when ten years ago I didn't even know it existed.

Beth D. Carter said...

I've seen the way romance books have evolved over the past twenty years, and yes, I too miss the POV of each character. Harlequin used to do this a lot, "She never saw the longing look he shot her way as she walked by..." Stuff like that always got me. So I used to write like that, until my first publisher (Siren) put big red marks over my manuscript with the words "Check POV".

Ahhh...remember Zebra Historicals? Those were fun, large romances!
Great article, Regan!

Regan said...

Oh yes, I definitely remember the Zebra's! I probably have some around the house. I wanted to thank you all for coming by and LASR for having me. Have a great week and happy reading!