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Colleen Hoover, the Unromantic Romantic

Colleen Hoover self-published her first book Slammed, which became Amazon and New York Times bestsellers. Eventually, the book got picked up by Simon & Schuster. The movie rights were sold. She wrote more bestselling books.

Great story, right? This is where it gets better. Reading her blog, I noticed this under "About Me":

"19) I’m very unemotional and I’m not a romantic at all. So the fact that I write romance novels that make a lot of people cry is really strange."

Unexpected, but interesting. I read on ...

"12) I had never read a romance novel before writing SLAMMED. I pretty much stuck to true crime non-fiction and biographies before then. "

Blew. Me. Away.

Never read a romance novel? The conventional wisdom in fiction writing is you have to read a lot, especially in your genre.

For most writers, it's probably a good idea to read a lot in your genre. You can learn about what makes for a good read or a bad read, what sells, what's been (overly) done, etc.

But as Hoover shows, there's something to be said about coming at this fresh. You might be less constrained by in-the-box thinking of how you're supposed to write.


  1. Wow, that's really interesting! I wonder if it also depends on the genre and/or category... but sometimes I do wish that I haven't read any YA books. I feel that when I write YA, I subconsciously limit my writing within certain constraints because part of me thinks it's what the category wants. It's harder than I thought to remind myself that I shouldn't aim to follow what I think is the norm...

  2. I suspect that the "read widely and deeply" advice happens because the kinds of people who write books also happen to be, generally speaking, the kinds of people who like reading books. And while I would certainly have my worries about an author who truly had no interest in reading and hadn't read any books in their life, that doesn't mean there's necessarily any benefit to be had by reading 1,000 books instead of 100. (There is benefit, though, to being able to say to oneself, "Yes, XYZ really does happen in books that people love, even though this other person is claiming it doesn't," because sometimes critiquers start getting strange rules into their heads, like, "Don't use adjectives.")

    At any rate, congrats to Ms. Hoover.


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