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Writing Style: Taylor Swift in the World of Beyoncé

This week I got feedback on my latest projects. Now let me reiterate that it was excellent, timely, professional advice. And I trust this writing professional implicitly and she challenged me to go deeper -- which I need to do in this publishing climate.

I'm writing about wealth and privilege (Wentworth Heiresses) in a time when all of that stuff is not relevant to normal people. People are into #MeToo and making deep, emotional statements about the world around them. I'm still walking my dog and dancing to Adam Ant down the sidewalk. Then, I had an epiphany yesterday when my mom sent me the new Taylor Swift video and said it reminded her of my daughter.

The world is falling apart. I don't want to go there. I don't even read the news anymore. It's so ugly and depressing and full of name-calling and I don't like that. It's bad juju for me. I like happy, colorful energy and though life has taken me through the wringer in the last few years, I'm still not ready to go "deep" in my fiction. This writing professional was adamant that I didn't need to -- but if I wanted to catch up with what's happening in publishing, then I did -- and that is 100% truth. But I think I'm the Taylor Swift of writing and I'm oblivious to what's going on in the real world, and happily so. Like Taylor in this video.

So I guess I don't want to catch up. Not because I couldn't -- I'm a good learner -- I would figure it out. But because I don't want to explore those dark places emotionally that other people seem to love in their fiction. At least not yet. Even when I read Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure" he didn't take me emotionally to some of the places that today's fiction does. I don't want to be depressed or feel dark things. Which may make me a dinosaur and irrelevant in the publishing world, but I want to look at the shiny, pretty side of life. The world needs those depths plunged. I just don't think it's my job to do it.

I grew up with "Pillow Talk" and Doris Day as my influencer. My mom said I never walked anywhere as a child -- I danced. I think that is my nature and I'm going to stick with that.


While WWII was raging on, Fred Astaire was dancing.


While the world battles, I want to dance because there are enough writers out there who can plumb the depths of life's harsh truths. My current book is about five sisters with three different moms, but the same dad -- who inherit billions. I wrote it because I wanted to explore what it's like to watch a father be a good father to one set of kids and a terrible father to another. It's not rocket science -- but it interests me and for now, that has to be enough.

Incidentally, I have never been everyone's cup of tea. My humor is not for everyone and can be quite offensive to some people. Luckily, in today's market I CAN write what I want and that is a blessing! I'm also going to buy me a bubble gum cover that everyone says is out of fashion. As if.

"Write to Market!" They said.

That is such great advice. Write for the market and you will sell lots of books. It's such an easy equation. Why can't I just do that? The rules for fiction that sells are so basic in the romance genre.

  • Nice heroines (Ie., not snarky)

  • Handsome, manly heroes (ie., not nerds in venture capital)

  • Romantic settings (not Silicon Valley -- trust me on that one!)

  • Primary focus is on the relationship (this one really gets me, I'm too ADD for that.)

The problem for me is that my favorite romances don't have these elements, so that really screws me up."Pride and Prejudice" has the best hero in the history of heroes, and he's a total jerk. (Until we find out who he really is.) Lizzy is so proud and full of herself that she turns down a proposal that could rescue her family from entailment laws. And is the suburbs in England really that romantic?

What about "Jane Eyre?" Mr. Rochester might just be a sociopath. LOL "Far from the Madding Crowd" -- Bathsheba definitely has narcissistic personality disorder and Gabriel Oak is probably an enabler, but he loves her as Jesus loves us -- when we are not worthy of being loved. Could there be anything more romantic?


My current heroine is a social worker in San Francisco. She dresses badly and couldn't care less. The hero is a would-be lawyer who has secrets and a broken hip. The setting is a gothic mansion in modern-day San Francisco where the heroine lives with the father who abandoned her. This is what my brain is like. It is NOT normal. It cannot do what it's supposed to. I'm feeling frustrated today that I have to finish this story with too many characters and a lot of resolution still to go.

If only I could throw a sword fight in and make my heroine swoon over her handsome rake savior. Alas, I cannot. I just need to finish the book. If you identify with any of this craziness, this post is for you. Not all of us are meant for the masses. Some of us are meant to appeal to a specific palate. Just finish the book. I have to tell myself that after 40 books published. Just finish the book. It's for someone.