Monday, June 13, 2011


It's the latest buzz word at Romance HQ and everyone's talking about it: unpredictability.

Lorraine Minx brought this to our attention last week, and Maisey Yates has also added further sights, but it was really brought home to me just how important it is for aspiring writers to be fresh and innovative when I got a rejection last week from an editor at Romance HQ for exactly that - my conflict was too predictable.

It's a fine line we need to tread between fulfilling the promise of the line we're targeting and yet still bringing something original to the party. I have no deep insights, but I thought I'd share with you a little example that struck me this weekend.

I re-watched 27 Dresses on Saturday. This is the perfect example of a fresh spin on an old story. Katherine Heigl is the modern day Cinderella, who spends her life working to make everyone else happy. She watches all her friends, and her baby sister, get to be the belles of the ball while she sits on the sidelines. It takes the right prince to show her that she's worth putting herself first.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't love this movie. It's an old story, and we know exactly how it will end, but it feels fresh and original.

Sadly, this story has already been done (very well!) by India Grey in her Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper, so you're going to have to come up with your own fresh spin!


Madeline Ash said...

So true, and so tricky! I often find it a battle to bring something new to age-old plots. And sometimes, I believe it's simply a matter of perspective. While I might think I've managed it, others disagree. I loved the film Ever After, another Cinderella story, but a number of my friends felt that it brought nothing new to the traditional tale. In the end, I guess we just have to hope we stumble across an editor who agrees with us! :)

Sally Clements said...

Hugs on the R, Romy. I must admit to being daunted by the challenge of unpredictability - challenged, but hopefully in a good way! And I love 27 dresses too!

Maya Blake said...

Oh, you've reminded me to dig up this movie and watch the whole thing. I was rudely interrupted the one time I tried to watch it (kids!) and I need to get back to it. Something to look forward to on my days off this week!

I *know* about that unpredictability thing! Downright scary, in fact, but the key is to never give up!! Hugs again on the R.

Jackie Ashenden said...

Big hugs on the R, Romy!! I think Maisey's got it right when she says it all comes down to character. Give your characters something about them that makes them unique, that makes them do things slightly differently. Not a wooden leg or anything, it doesn't need to be drastic, but something that is a little different from the norm.

Sutton Fox said...

Thought provoking post, Romy. I hadn't thought of my characters in terms of unpredictability. I'll be taking another look at them, for sure.

Dare I say, I haven't watched this movie. But I will now. Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Super mongo hugs on the R, Romy! it IS a very fine line we walk trying to be fresh without jumping the category shark. Like tightrope-walkin' sharp-rocks-at the-bottom kinda hard.

Bad me. I haven't seen this movie either. A mistake I shall very soon fix!

Maisey said...

Sorry about the R, Romy. :(

Yeah, like Aimee said (and har har, Aimee, because I've been joking all week that my WIP may have jumped the shark!) it's a fine like to walk. But my editor put it well when she said, fulfill the promise of the line, and beyond that do what you like. :)

And yes, I personally believe strong characters can add the unpredictable element. Ever After was mentioned, and I love that movie. Danielle is an active Cinderella, her drive, the fact that she's proactive in her own life, lend it unpredictability.

I mean, she carries the prince off on her shoulders to rescue him. What a woman!