I read this book for two reasons: first, it sounded kind of neat, and I’ve always entertained the idea of writing novels with a bit of a love story (not purely romance), and second, my friend who is a writer may find some use for it. Now, when it arrived in the mail months ago (sorry Lisa for taking so long) my dad got all excited. He loves to see what kind of books come in the mail for me and likes when I lend them to him afterwards. He has also recently been toying with the idea of writing a historical fiction or creative non-fiction book… and when he saw Writing Romance by Vanessa Grant he said (and I quote): “Oh, I’d like to read that!”
Anyway, onto the book itself. I tried to like it, and take it seriously, but I always felt like it was a little flighty and I think that it didn’t carry the weight of enough ethos (or credibility). For example, the pull quote endorsement on the cover reads: “Essential for all aspiring romance writers. – Jo Beverly, best-selling romance author”. Excuse me? Who is Jo Beverly and why should I trust her opinion of the book? Now, the inside front cover contains more quotes that hold a little more punch such as official book reviews and published writer’s reports.
However, getting past the cover (because you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover), I found Vanessa’s narrative always a little bothersome. Bear with me while I try to explain. I liked the instructions and the discussion; in the how-to sections she would speak as a mentor or teacher would speak to a student, and it was written in a very personal “you as the writer” perspective. It was the examples within the how-to narrative that gave me pause. Vanessa Grant uses all personal experiences, and while you are always told to “write what you know“, I think it could have improved the ethos of the book to include examples and stories from other authors. It felt a little like the “Vanessa Grant Show” if you know what I mean, and only later did I discover that two of the books she constantly references (her own) are included as ebooks on the included CD.
All those complaints aside, the content itself was very thorough. Vanessa Grant discusses everything from sparking ideas, to developing characters, and planning a story all before writing. And then she guides you through the writing process, instructions and hints on how to write engaging action, narrative, and dialogue. I really like that there is a lot of encouragement throughout and various hints and tips that can be transferable to other styles of writing, not just the romance genre. Vanessa’s focus on the romance genre comes through in a very positive light, she advises the writer to ensure that there is a credible history to the love story otherwise the readers will not find it believable, and again she offers some insight on how to develop the story. The logos (logic/reasoning) of the content was very well written.
Bonus in this package, which I haven’t had time to explore, is the CD containing spreadsheets and documents to help the writer keep track of characters and timelines, a trial version of a naming software, MP3s from Vanessa Grant’s seminars on writing romance novels, and two ebooks which may help me enjoy her personal anecdotes within the book if I actually read them first.
Overall, I think I am still on the fence about this book.
Full disclosure: I requested this book from OnlinePublicist (aka Lisa Roe) for review purposes. Also, I don’t know how Lisa is now arranging book requests as her OnlinePublicist website has turned into a blog… but I’m sure if you contact her, she’ll be able to explain it all!