As said by one of the greats, and quoted often:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
But as a writer, I need to do more than just consume fiction. Consuming it is easy. But much like watching great movies doesn’t make me a screenwriter, I also need to do more than read great books. I need think about what makes them great. To understand what I liked about them, and even what I dislikes about them. But more than that, I need to think about the how and why the author does what they do.
Tessa Dare is an amazing author, so I decided to really think through one of her books. I just finished this one, and it is was a nice read. I started it on Friday night and finished it on Saturday morning.
As a said, it’s a solid read, and I would recommend it.
As I think through it, here are a few things she did particularly well I can learn from:
- She doesn’t reveal things too quickly. Why is the heroine afraid of the dark? You’ll find out, but not too quickly. And when you do, it moves the romance along. She does this repeatedly, seeding story points early and bringing them to fruition later.
- Her characters are not perfect. The heroine isn’t insurmountably beautiful. The hero is scarred. Literally. And blind. She uses this to build tension naturally. There are very few external events, which is perfect.
- She uses these flaws to create tension. The characters do talk to each other, and sometimes they say mean things. But this fits with the flaws. Never too much to make them irredeemable, but you can see them working through their pain and flaws to earn their happily-ever-after.
- Her characters all have agency. Each one chooses their path. They act with self-interest as well. Sometimes blatantly, but never maliciously so you still love them.
- Her steamy scenes are concise but impactful.
Reading the work of a master always helps with your own work. Building a world. Crafting a story. I am particularly mindful of how she builds those character flaws and allows them to guide the story.
Something more for me to ponder.