One of the things I love about reading is that when the book is just right you can find your own writing voice. I'm in the process of finalizing my about-to-be published book, Little Miss Lovesick. At night and when I'm standing at the bus stop or waiting in the doctor's office, I'm reading Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl. My friend Paula loaned it to me and the idea of the story really caught my interest.
It's about a girl in her 20s who meets her great-aunt's ghost at the funeral. Her great-aunt is both her 20-something self as a ghost, and she was born in the 1920s. I liked how the title was a double entendre, and it made me wonder how I could think up titles like that. Other great titles that have caught my eye recently include Cara Lockwood's Every Demon Has His Day and The Scarlet Letterman, Maureen McGowan's Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, and K. Bennett's The Year of Eating Dangerously.
Obviously, I like titles that play with words so I need to figure out how to come up with playful titles for my own books. (Special note: I'll have a fun interview here with K. Bennett at the end of the month! I'm about to start his new zombie legal thriller, Pay Me In Flesh. I can't wait!)
Another thing I've learned about my writing through reading is that I love humor. I didn't try to write humorously for years until someone said, if you wrote the way you talk, it'd be so funny! After a while, it occurred to me that the books I love have a lot of humor in them. Ah-ha! Lightbulb moment. So then I went wandering through my mind trying to decide what I thought was funny and writing that down. (My husband still doesn't quite believe anyone else out there could possibly have a similar sense of humor.)
So I like the title of Twenties Girl, I like the humor in it, and I like that the main character is struggling to figure out how to be her true self and a better version of that self as the story progresses. That's kind of what all of my main characters do. When I read a book that hits that note for me, it's a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish in my own work.
What's equally interesting is what I read that I know is not what I want to write. I just finished Vicki Lewis Thompson's Chick with a Charm. I love Vicki's Nerd books and I loved the first book in this Babes on Brooms series. Vicki's sense of humor makes me laugh out loud. A lot. But this particular book is about an adoration spell so the entire conflict of the story is about the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. All the time. I had to start skimming those sections because it was just not that interesting to me to read. I like the “romance” parts of stories – what he says and what she does and awww, isn't that sweet! So reading this book reminded me that I love humor and romance, but not with tons of sex. I want more “other” story.
Little Miss Lovesick is my first attempt at tying all of these areas together. I've got alliteration in the title. There's a young woman trying to find a way to be a better version of herself. There's humor and funny situations. And there's a fun romance without any sex. I really enjoyed writing it, but I owe the parts that I did well to the writers who have gone before me, the ones who made me love to read. 🙂
Don't let anyone tell you differently. If you want to be a great writer, you need to be a book-loving reader.
[Note: Little Miss Lovesick should be available as an ebook as early as next week!]