Miracle Writing Cure!

Copyright © 2006 Julie Elizabeth Leto

If you’re an aspiring writer, this message is especially targeted at you. There are scams out there that make my blood boil and some I’m so used to, I hit the delete key without blinking an eyelash. Most of the time, I figure if an aspiring writer is gullible enough to fall for the unbelievable promises of some online shyster, who am I to stop them? You learn from experience.

(By the way, if you’re not an aspiring writer, but a loyal reader, don’t click away. Readers are always so incredibly supportive of their favorite authors. I’ve never met a reader who didn’t appreciate the hard work involved in the creation of the books they love. So please, share in my annoyance.)

Here’s the thing–no one can write a romance novel in three days.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say no one. Somewhere out there is some incredibly prolific writer who can bury herself in her office for twenty-four hours a day, who needs no sleep, who can crank out a first draft of a book in a mere 72 hours. Of course, that’s a first draft. I’m quite certain that if they have a half-way decent editor, they are going to be revising for weeks. But I digress. The point is that most romance novelists–most novelists in any genre–will tell you this idea is less than believable for various reasons. And downright insulting for others.

And yet, today in my Inbox, I found an advertisement for a service that GUARANTEES that if you follow this HOME-STUDY course and follow the romance FORMULA, you too can write a romance novel in three days and then sell it!

Wow, and if I click on the email that came in right after, I can make my penis bigger. And the next email? I can get two-million dollars from the widow of the Nigerian prime minister!

In other words, a book in three days? Bullsh*t.

I read this quote the other day and if the originator is out there, identify yourself (it was on someone’s blog…the poster said something about just because a monkey can type 400 pages doesn’t mean he deserves a banana.

Seems appropriate.

The person selling this course claims to be a published romance author. Whatever. I’ve never heard of her and I doubt many people have. Yet I can’t help but wonder how she can sleep at night when she’s just insulted every hard-working author out there?

According to her–though we’ll all deny it–we write to a formula. She mentions the word TEMPLATE. I suppose the aspiring writer is supposed to plug in their character names, their setting, a few plot devices (I’m figuring secret babies and amnesia play a big role here) and voila! Instant romance novel.

(For the record, I have written two secret baby books and two amnesia books. I have nothing against them. But critics of the genre love to cite them as formulaic. Those of us who actually read the books know better. It’s not formula, it’s a plot device that can be used for some seriously great situations.)

I really wish this three-day claim were true. I mean, if it was, I could churn out, what? Two-hundred and twenty one novels per year? Wow! Won’t Harlequin and Pocket be excited! And my readers! I mean, I guess they won’t mind that the same thing happens in every book, right? They’re morons, right? Because THAT is what this claim implies.

Such notions about how easy it is to write a romance novel are insulting to every one involved in the industry from the authors who bust their asses and burn out their brains to come up with new ideas and execute them in an entertaining way to the readers who happen to be very demanding. And rightly so.

What is dangerous about this claim is that some people will buy into it. They will shell out their hard-earned cash for this program, only to learn that while the ideas may make some sense on paper (and I’m doubting that, but what if these new writers don’t know any better?) it takes more than a formula to make a romance work.

What is the romance formula? It’s simple really. Boy and girl meet and over the course of some difficulty, fall in love. That’s about the only thing I can say that MOST romances have in common. Just as in a murder mystery, a body is discovered and over the course of the investigation, the detective-type character figures out who did it and why. I mean, that can describe anyone from Agatha Christie to Dan Brown, but those authors and their books are nothing alike. And I can guarantee you that neither Aggie nor Dan wrote their books in three days.

What is the point of this rant? One, the old saying that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” never fails. Writing is hard. There is no way around it. I saw another advertisement the other day for software that generates query letters and in the copy, they pointed out how many rejections John Grisham had on his first book. I don’t remember the number, but the implication was that if he had had this AMAZING query letter software, he would have sold much quicker!

Uh-huh. You know where I found out about this ad? From an agent’s blog, where another agent was ruminating on all these query letters coming in that sounded exactly alike–and they all suffered the same fate, too. Straight to the reject pile.

Look, I’ve never seen the home study materials in question. Maybe they’re fabulous. I have no idea. But the general idea that just anyone can write a romance novel in three days–a good romance novel–chaps my hide when I work my fingers to the bone to finish one in three to four months. I consider that fast! Sometimes I take much longer. Sometimes shorter. So yes, I’m insulted on that level, but mostly, I’m worried for the aspiring writers out there who might think this sort of thing is helpful.

Paying your dues yourself is invaluable. Buying into get-rich quick schemes never made one millionaire that I know of. Even lottery winners usually blow their whole stash within a few years of claiming their ticket. Writing is hard. Learn that now while you’re unpublished. Build up the tough skin on your fingertips and on your backside, because you’ll need them.

And realize that if everyone could succeed at this business–well, then everyone who tried would. Those of you who are working hard, butt in chair, attending workshops, studying your craft and applying your knowledge to every page you create–you aren’t like everyone. You’ve achieved something very special. When you sell, you’ve achieved another milestone. When you continue to sell, you’ve achieved yet another milestone. Every milestone is something that should be celebrated because it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s damned hard. And when you get down to brass tacks, no one can do this for you. Not your critique partners, your agent, your editor. No one can create the characters and write the words but you.

The icing on the cake is that readers appreciate the blood, sweat and tears a good novel requires–and in the end, that’s what keeps me going on the tough days. They reward us with their hard-earned cash, which they shell out with glee and great expectation. Hopefully, you’ve met their expectations. And they’ll reward you again by buying your next book.

Okay, I think that’s my rant for the day. What say you, readers? Writers? Does this insult you or are you cursing me for not providing a link to this miracle program?