Reading Full-length Fiction: Have You Got What it Takes?

 Have You Got the Mental Muscle to Read Long Fiction or Are You Flabby?

short fiction versus long: books lined up, cut pages facing out

There has been an undeniable trend toward short fiction recently instead of full-length novels. This has resulted in a resurgence of short stories, novellas, novelettes and serialized fiction in the market. I believe the affordability and flexibility of digital publishing is somewhat responsible for this trend, and it’s not all bad.

Short story collections have a particular readership, and I believe have not always been that popular among the general fiction-reading audience. They have had more often literary connotations than commercial fiction. Another traditional spot for short stories has always been literary magazines. On one hand, I think this trend is a good thing, opening the market to new forms of writing. Also, perhaps luring new readers into the world of online publishing and reading fiction.

short fiction versus long: "I am like a fish in love with a bird wishing I could fly: on white page

Possible Reasons for the Short Fiction Boom

short fiction versus long: racks of books at bookstore

Other reasons why shorter fiction might be more popular and available today are not quite so benign. These include: time to produce, cost to print, time to read, attention span, and the ease of series creation which is better for author platform and branding. Let me expand on these a bit. With the advent of digital and independent publishing, two things have happened to make the marketplace more crowded and competitive. While indie authors arguably have more freedom and autonomy than those publishing through traditional channels, all authors and readers have to deal with the consequences of these shifts.

Firstly, back lists, out-of-print titles and classics are all equally available today alongside more current titles. What we as readers had to choose from in the past was curated by publishers, booksellers and librarians. Today virtually everything is simultaneously and universally available. How does a reader choose? How does a writer get noticed?

I Need to Publish How Many Books Per Year?

short fiction versus long: e-reader

One way for writers to compete is to publish more titles, more rapidly. Some advocates recommend four titles per year or more. The creation of several shorter works also enables the creation of series which can pull readers back for more purchases in a familiar story world. This builds author rankings and earnings. Now while some sub-genres and some authors can sustain this dizzying pace, I believe that the quality of storytelling and writing can only suffer under this kind of pressure. And, as the quality of stories goes down, so does the reader experience. Along with it, expectations for something more.

 

Is Short Fiction the Answer?

One solution is to write shorter fiction. This is more feasible for the author, because writing is after all a difficult and time-consuming task. It allows them more time to get critique and beta-reader feedback and refine and polish their stories. It’s also cheaper to get them professionally edited and formatted. And finally, for those readers who prefer print books, it’s cheaper to print and ship them, bringing their price points down. The battle is between an increasingly commodified product versus what is and arguable should be an art form. But at whatever price, is the value really there?

If you buy e-books, do you think to check page count before buying? I’ve made this mistake myself by making snap buying decisions. With pricing for e-books ranging from free and $0.99 to $6.99 and much higher, how do you know you’re getting what you pay for? Should you pay more for a 250-350 page novel than a 140 page novella? Do you feel “shorted” when you buy what you think is a novel and discover it’s over too soon?

Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Perhaps more shorter fiction, separately packaged, better remunerates hard-working authors for their time and creativity? I still can’t help feeling we’ve thrown out the baby with the bath water.

Long Versus Short Fiction: Pluses and Minuses

There are some unfortunate consequences of this publishing trend.

While the result is that “we” collectively, are producing more “books” I question whether “we” as a whole are getting more to read. While I’m no expert at short fiction, I do know that short stories are their own, completely distinct art form. They are not simply “shorter” versions of what we normally find between the pages of a novel.

What about novellas? (And novelettes, a term recently used to mean some intermediate page length between a short story and a novella.) It’s possible to tell an excellent story in the form of a novella. A recent workshop I attended with author Mary Robinette Kowal explained how good shorter fiction can be written through “proportional pacing.” What this means is simply that each element of the story must be reduced in size (length.) She argues that the proportions of the smaller parts don’t change, only their size does. This effects two elements of story: how does it feel, and how does the character achieve their ends?

In this way, a short story or novella, if well-written, can be just as absorbing and deep as a full-length novel. In fact some of the best classics are rather short (e.g. The Great Gatsby.) How the story is paced and punctuated can have a great bearing on the reader experience. But beware! Not all authors writing shorter fiction are doing so skillfully and artfully.

Is Shorter Better? Is It Even Good?

Digital publishing makes short fiction more available to readers than the traditional publishing industry could ever do. However, do we understand what we are sacrificing when we default to shorter fiction because we can’t be bothered to dig into the longer stuff? And are we willing to do this?

So while it’s possible to write a wonderful, rich reading experience with short fiction, not all the short titles out there are delivering on this. But even those that do will often do so at a cost. They necessarily must strip out many of the elements that longer fiction accommodates, and that make it a rich and valuable experience.

short fiction versus long: serpentine row of open books on the ground

Effort Worth Investing In?

It should be no secret by now where my personal bias lies. I strongly favour long fiction for several reasons. These include: depth of characterization (via backstory and internal dialogue), subtlety and believability of character arcs, complexity of storylines, inclusion of secondary characters and subplots, detailed, evocative description of places and events, and far more immersive emotional experiences. As well, longer fiction accommodates literary artistry such as layering of themes and weaving of stories into stories by referring to larger events, other literary or art forms, tying in of mythology and symbol, etc.

Not the exclusive domain of literary fiction, these things can be a part of an entertaining and engaging work of commercial fiction, too. I would argue they should be. Do we really want society to be relentlessly dumbed down because we are too busy, lazy or distracted to put in the time, attention and thought to reap these rewards. Do we not believe that quick and shallow forms of entertainment ultimately disable our ability to hold complex ideas in our minds and to indulge in the luxury of deep thought and analysis. Is this a cognitive and social (d)evolution that we welcome? Will it benefit humanity and enrich our lives?

There is no question there are cons to long form fiction. These obviously include the overall time it takes to read a work, the necessity of sustaining our attention if we are able, the degree of immersion into the fictional world in which we have chosen to invest our time. On a more practical level, there is also the cost of editing, production and printing, influencing price. But I would argue that it’s not only worthwhile, but essential to invest in longer fiction.

short fiction versus long: stack of vintage books

Fans of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Historical Fiction are, of course, more accustomed to the heftier tomes. They understand implicitly that this is the price for the payoff of complex world-building, a critical part of these genres. However, long fiction in every genre can just as easily be fit into busy lifestyles… if readers are willing.

 

Lost Attention Span

The true difficulty, in my opinion, is lost attention span, and the endangered mental ability to allow oneself to become immersed in a fictional world for a sustained period of time. With more people spending more of their time on the internet, flitting from social media to reading blogs and short posts, to consuming film and video, they’ve become accustomed to passively taking in increasingly small bites of superficial or fragmented visual messages. Some of this is okay in its own right. However, the problem with this is twofold. One, of course, is that we are continuously reinforcing the neural pathways for processing this kind of information in this way. And we are incrementally LOSING the ability to sustain attention and hold complex ideas in our heads where they can percolate.

Is Short Fiction causing us to LOSE the ability to sustain attention and hold complex ideas in our heads?

 

short fiction versus long: note by walnut: "use your brain"

The second part of the problem, from my perspective, is that the nature of what we consume influences the ideas we have, and the way we think about them. If everything is dished out in tidy bites that require little to no effort, analysis or synthesis, how will these intellectual functions be nurtured?

Although every demographic age-group since the baby boomers has been progressively affected by changing forms of media, I’m particularly worried about the youngest cohorts who have grown up so utterly immersed in online and largely video media.

With this lost ability comes unknowable and immeasurable changes in society. Less time is spent making connections, pondering deep ideas and building a cultural repertoire of reference material. Furthermore, I wonder if something priceless is lost in the shallowness of their relationship with fictional characters who for generations have helped build “character” by exponentially expanding the lived experience of the avid reader.

All Hope is Not Lost

short fiction versus long: dumpster with books on top, sign on side says "think before you speak. READ before you think."

An interesting contrary trend is emerging in entertainment media, however, that gives me hope. If only those involved in the publishing industry, from creators to consumers, can put it together. I’m referring to the explosion of passionate viewing of series programming on subscription channels such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. I’m gobbling up this content as voraciously as anyone.

What’s interesting about immersion and commitment to serialized storytelling is that, to me, it resembles long fiction more than feature films ever did. Serials provide a luxurious platform for long arc characterization, plenty of flashbacks to build motivation and reveal character, multiple character arcs and interwoven storylines, the exploration of themes that either run through a series or are explored episodically, and complete immersion in fictional worlds.

This trend toward serials has also begun to have an impact on fiction, as more authors are releasing episodic stories, either on platforms made for this, such as WattPad, on websites, or via digital publishing. And if this is what consumers are gravitating towards, is it because they’ve forgotten how to read full length novels?

Today’s long fiction is written more to the appetites of modern consumers as well. They no longer resemble the long-winded and slow-moving tales of George Elliot, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy, wonderful as those works are. Novels have always, after all, come broken down into convenient, bite-size chapters.

Reader Survey: Do You Read Short Fiction or Long?

I’m genuinely curious to know how you feel about this subject, so I’ve created a mini-survey with ten short questions so I can get a sense of it. Please click and respond to the survey and I’ll report back on my findings. Also please comment below to get a discussion going. Thanks!

If you think you have what it takes to read a good, long novel, perhaps you’d like my latest release, Disruption by Design, just out January 1, 2018. It has 422 pages! Instead of feeling guilty about it, I invite you to lose yourself in it’s many complex twists and turns and enjoy the ride!

NVCL/NSWA Writing with Writers Workshop – North Vancouver City Library, February 7, 2018

NVCL/NSWA Writing with Writers Workshop –

North Vancouver City Library, February 7, 2018 7:00 – 8:30pm

 

I’ll be teaching a writing workshop on Romance writing to the public in February, jointly sponsored by the North Shore City Library and the North Shore Writers’ Association. Perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day. Here’s the promotional blurb:

Romance Writing: The Power of that Dynamic Allure

Presented by Mary Ann Clarke Scott

 

Have you ever wondered how romance fiction differs from other genres? Or what’s going on in a romance novel besides kissing? Have you ever wondered if you could be the next Nora Roberts? Then this workshop is for you.

 

Chatelaine Grand Prize winner and NSWA member, Mary Ann Clarke Scott, will guide us through the writer’s contract with the reader. We’ll examine the roles of the Heroine and Hero in this character dominant genre, and look at the internal emotional character arcs.

 

Bring pen and paper, or laptop, and be prepared to join in, as Mary Ann Clarke Scott, challenges, educates, and inspires the amorous spirit in all of us.

 


 

Come out for an evening of hands-on writing instruction and learn some key facts about writing romance and women’s fiction. “Friends of the Library” serve wine, and it’s a great opportunity to meet me in person, and to buy print copies of my books. I’ll even sign yours if you do!

 

 

 

Nominate Disruption by Design on Kindle Scout

Nominate Disruption by Design on Kindle Scout

Kindle Scout Campaign

My forthcoming new novel, Disruption by Design has been up on Kindle Scout since November 10th. To date, I’ve had 1336 page views, though Amazon doesn’t report how many nominations the book has. It did manage to hit the Hot and Trending list for seven hours in its first couple of days live. I’m hoping it makes it back there near the end of its month on December 10th.

Disruption by Design is Book 2 in the Having it All series, about professional 30-something women in Vancouver struggling to balance the challenge and fulfillment of their career with their search for love, family and home. It follows Bruce and Alexa, the best friends of Simon and Kate from Reconcilable Differences. – p.s. Eventually most of the key characters in Reconcilable Differences will get their own story (yes, I already know what happens, more or less!)

 

Cover of Disruption by Design by M A Clarke Scott author

What is the price of sacrifice, when love is the prize?

Alexa is a gifted architect. She grew up watching her mother pay a heavy price for love, at the loss of her freedom, her creativity and her identity – a price Alexa swore she would never pay. She spent her youth helping her working mom take care of their home, her sick father and her six younger siblings. Now nothing will stand in the way of her success.

Bruce has success in spades. He lives a life of leisure after selling his software company for millions. But money can’t buy the thing he desires most, and was deprived of as a child when his mother left him and his three older brothers in the care if his bullying dad- the love and nurturing of a woman, a comfortable home and a family of his own.

 

 

Although behind the scenes analysis of Kindle Scout results in few conclusions (see my 2016 Kindle Scout campaign analysis here), it’s generally held to be important to Amazon that a healthy percentage of your page views and nominations come in from external links. This round, I’m not doing so well, with only sixty out of those 1336 that could be attributable to my own marketing efforts, a mere four percent. You can help bump up this percentage!

Click here to check it out and if you like it, please Nominate it. And then share the link with other avid readers, too.

My impression is that, like every other tool and strategy available to independent authors, Kindle Scout has changed very rapidly in the last couple of years. Not one thing in this industry sits static very long, which is why authors and publishers need to continue to be light-of-foot and constantly monitoring and learning. Although not universally true, it seems to me more experienced, not-first-time authors are using Kindle Scout as a launching platform, in order to get more visibility for books they plan to release themselves in the near future. As I am.

It’s not that Amazon doesn’t still pick up the occasional book out of the enourmous public slush pile that Kindle Scout nominees represent. (For those not familiar, a “slush pile” is that huge pile of mostly unsolicited manuscripts most traditional publishers and agents have to dig and weed through to find that one jewel of a book that excites them enough to represent it.) But those odds never were very good. Whether traditional or new-age, it’s pretty hard to predict what next book which capture the public’s imagination.

Rejection Letter Peanuts cartoon

 

Click here to check it out and if you like it, please Nominate it. And then share the link with other avid readers, too.

Thank you!

 

 

Other places you can follow me

Booksprout LogoBy the way, I’ve discovered a fantastic new book platform. It’s another great way for readers and authors to find each other. It helps authors get Advance Reader Copies out to hungry readers in exchange for reviews. You can now hear about my new releases and deals in the Booksprout app.

Follow me in the Booksprout app!

Just download it, search for “M A Clarke Scott” and click follow! (Hint: In addition to my planned new release, I have another special offer coming up soon. See if you can find it!) Get the free Booksprout app →

Don’t forget Instagram

When not diligently editing the manuscript for Disruption by Design, I mostly hang out on Instagram these days if I’m spending time on social media. I guess I just like the visuals there, and the quick text-like bites of commentary, as well as the generally positive environment (unlike some platforms these days.) If you want to see all the photos I’ve posted (yes, there are some of my cats and what I’ve been cooking or eating) including travel and events and books, follow me here!

My One-Bag European Capsule Wardrobe

Travelling Light

As you may know, I love to travel. This summer I spent just over three weeks in Europe with my family, sightseeing and visiting friends. Early on, we decided we were going to travel light, and take one carry-on size suitcase each. No checked bags allowed.

Before I left, I spent more time than I ever had planning and preparing my wardrobe to ensure this was both possible and successful. I consulted stylish and well-travelled friends, and I researched others’ capsule wardrobes on Pinterest, creating a board full of inspiration and ideas. Check it out here if you want to see what others have done, and what kind of looks I favour (Hint: I’m not a formal dresser.) (Scroll down past the men with beards to see what I mean)

I tried to use as many pieces from my existing wardrobe as possible. The idea wasn’t to spend a fortune to make this work. Once I got going, however, I found there were a few key pieces that I needed to acquire. In the end these included: a new pair of stretchy skinny jeans, two scarves, a thigh-length cotton cardigan, two summer sundresses, a sleeveless cotton shirt, new sneakers and new sandals. I got most pieces on sale however, so it wasn’t a huge outlay of cash. I also love the pieces and continue to use them now that I’m home.

The List

The final capsule included only fifteen pieces (yes, 15!) not counting shoes and necessities. These included:

M A Clarke Scott Author capsule wardrobe jeans and jean jacket5 Bottoms, 6 Tops, 2 Dresses &2 Layers:

Skinny jeans

Black leggings

Thin ecru chinos

Black dress shorts (worn only once)

White t-shirt

Grey striped t-shirt

Blue t-shirt

Black camisole

Sleeveless floral blouse

Sleeveless tunic length shirt

Long-sleeve white t-shirt

Red, white and blue mini-print floral sleeveless sundress

Blue with white floral pattern sleeveless sundress

Black and white striped cotton cardigan

Jean jacket

Shoes:

White Keds

White sandals

Red ballet flats

 

Necessities

Pyjamas

7 pair undies

Toiletries

 

 

 

Accessories:

Light grey scarf with white polka dots

Mixed blue, red, white, yellow abstract large scarf

Navy cotton belt

Sunglasses

Handbag (blue and tan)

Tote (blue)

Mini-umbrella (pink & white)

Swimsuit (never used)

 

Sample Photos

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe Jean Jacket with Scarf

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe cardigan with leggings

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe Chinos with cardigan and t-shirt

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe blouse with jean jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe blouse with shorts

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe sleeveless blouse and leggingsM A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe t-shirt, cardigan, scarf and leggingsM A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe sundress and cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the photos, typical outfits included:

jeans, t-shirt with jean jacket and scarf – Keds

sundress with jacket and scarf – sandals or flats

leggings and shirt with cardigan – Keds

chinos with blouse – Keds

 

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe sleeveless blouse and chinos

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe blouse with leggings

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe leggings with cardigan and t-shirt

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe sundress with scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most importantly, I always knew what to put together to make an ensemble because it was preplanned. I had something both comfortable and appropriate for every occasion, from travel to museum days, to walking to dinners out. I had to go all day without a change of clothes, most days, and transitioned to restaurants without a problem. I had to do a small laundry wash only twice in over three weeks. And I rarely wore exactly the same combination twice, so I was never bored with my choices.

“Your dress is lovely, Madame.”

 

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe Jean Jacket with Sundress & Scarf

One of the smartest pieces of advice given to me beforehand by a well-seasoned traveller friend (Thanks Natasha. Mwah!) was that, however casually we dress here on the West Coast of Canada, with our yoga gear, shorts and fleece, this simply wouldn’t cut it in the cosmopolitan cities of London and Paris. Instead, she suggested sundresses for warm summer days.

I took this advice (thus the new purchases) and these were some of my favourite ensembles. With sandals or flats, optional sweater or jacket, and a scarf in my bag in case I got chilly, I felt like the best-dressed tourist around. I was cooler than I would have been in shorts (after all, there’s not much under a sundress and you can catch a breeze by the River Seine. Even better, I felt more like a stylish local than a tourist when dressed like this. I even got stopped by a well-dressed woman while touring the Ste. Chapelle cathedral on the Ile-de-la-Cite in Paris, to have my lovely floral sundress complimented (en Francais, bien sur.) Trust me when I say that this was an unprecedented event in my life.

 

Stylish and Practical

M A Clarke Scott Author Capsule wardrobe pink umbrella, leggings with cardigan and t-shirt

A second recommendation was to skip the rain jacket in favour of a super-light, compact umbrella in a light summer colour. I chose a pale pink-and-white flowered one from The Umbrella Shop in Vancouver, cheerful, affordable, durable and guaranteed for life. This I could carry on iffy days and whip out for a shower, then tuck away. It also doubled as a parasol when caught standing in line in the hot sun at the Louvre museum.

Everything did indeed fit into one bag, including shoes and toiletries. The ease of movement, speed and convenience of not having to wait around for checked baggage was a pure delight. (Cue visual: flight attendant striding jauntily across the airport concourse with scarf flying behind, and the attendant big grin of a sophisticated world traveller.) Aside from our main overseas flight, we took a short flight across the English Channel, as well as two long-distance train rides and numerous Tube, Metro and city bus rides to and fro. There were also elevators and staircases, doorways and foyers that were breezed through painlessly. I highly recommend taking this extra effort to prepare for travelling light. I’m obviously a convert and will never again over-pack and suffer from too much baggage and wardrobe indecision while travelling.

 

Have You Tried This?

I hope you enjoyed this recap of my travelling capsule wardrobe experiment. If you’ve ever packed a capsule wardrobe for a trip, comment below and tell me how it went. Do you have any tricks or tips to share?

 

Kindle Scout Campaign

By the way, since returning home, I’ve been hard at work completing my forthcoming new novel, Disruption by Design. It’s spending the next month on Kindle Scout. Click here to check it out and if you like it, please Nominate it. And then share the link with other avid readers, too.

Thank you!

 

Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

Is Your Dinosaur Needy or Aloof?

crocodile face - to represent dinosaur

What, you must be thinking, can this blog post possibly be about? Is your dinosaur what? Well… it’s not about dinosaurs. Though apparently there are some romance novels in existence where they play a key role. Not any written or read by me, though. However, it is about relationships, with whomever… or whatever… you choose.

 

I came across this article in Verily online magazine called Being Needy Gets a Bad Rap in Romance: What’s Really Going On? Perhaps you’ve seen some of this psychology before. I know I have, though it’s nicely summarized in this article, for quick digestion. (Read it here.)

 

Believable Characters Have a Past

It reminded me how much writers need to understand human psychology in order to create fully fleshed out and believable characters on the page. There are many sources that writers use to do this, beyond personal experience, and many different systems to sort and categorize personality types. These include the Myers-Briggs test and its derivatives, the Enneagram, Master Characters and Jungian Archetypes. Some of these books have been written specifically with writers in mind.

 

What struck me in particular about attachment style as an attribute of personality is how important it is for writers of Romance, or any story that focuses on relationships. Certainly all of Women’s Fiction would be included, but any writer who wants to enrich her story with true-to-life human interactions would be wise to consider this.

 

man embracing woman who looks out at camera (detached?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secure, Avoidant or Anxious Attachment Style?

In brief, the three attachment styles, imprinted early in life, are Secure, Avoidant and Anxious. My imagination is already filling in with the characters that populate my novels, both written and still to meet the page. Since attachment style derives from early childhood, and the relationship one had with one’s parents or caregivers, naturally there is a strong connection with backstory and family of origin stories.

 

These play an important role in many of the stories I (and other writers) imagine, as wounds from the past often influence or determine how we go through life (our Identity, in Michael Hague’s terminology), and what our hopes and attitudes are towards mating and family life. More importantly, they influence behaviour and communication, things that show up concretely on the story page. Understanding where your character sits on this continuum (and I do believe it’s more of a continuum than a tidy list of three neat categories) is critical.

 

When involved in a new romantic relationship, what happens when your emotions begin to be engaged? When you suddenly realize you need this other person in your life? Whether you realize it or not, you’re falling in love. Some may leap in and hang on tightly— Perhaps too tightly, suffocating the other or creeping them out by being needy. Others may panic and put up barriers, artificially create conflict to avoid uncomfortable intimacy, or… run for the hills. It’s a rare healthy and balanced person (IMO) who is fully secure in their attachment style. And if everyone were, well, where would be the fun in that?

Good fiction depends on conflict and troubles and angst

man with bouquet of flowers, romantic intentions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good fiction depends on conflict and troubles and angst. A smoothly running relationship does not make for a good romance. As every reader of romance knows, there must be barriers to the HEA or there is no story!

 

Those who aren’t familiar with, or shy away from, the genre perhaps think the “formula” makes for boring or predictable reading. On the contrary, it’s not the fact that boy and girl (or boy and boy, or girl and dinosaur) meet, fall in love, and live happily-ever-after that’s the point. It’s HOW it unfolds. It’s what the obstacles (internal and external) are and how they are overcome, and how the characters must grow and change in order to reach that ideal resolution. And those obstacles are infinitely variable. These relationship issues, of course, apply equally in non-romantic relationships, between parents and children, between siblings or friends, and are equally influenced by attachment style.

 

In my own fiction, the obstacles are rarely external, though there may be life events, or external goals, that propel the plot forward. More importantly for me is what motivates my characters to seek out or avoid relationship and intimacy.

 

Though I could talk about this all day, I’ll end with an example from my Work in Progress. Perhaps you’ve already sampled a few chapters. If not, sign up for my email list and they are yours.

 

I Love You… Don’t Leave Me

In the book, called Coming About (although the title is currently up for debate,) my hero, Bruce, has serious abandonment issues. He’s the youngest of four sons. His father is a cold, bullying, macho man’s-man who raised his sons in his own image. Bruce has three much-older brothers as proof, scars and all. Bruce, being the baby of the family, was the apple of his mother’s eye, and his intimacy with her shielded him from identifying with and emulating his testosterone-fuelled father and brothers.

 

Until she left.

Man standing alone on a dock, in silhouette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An event he never recovered from, and one that created in him a deep-seated anxiety about intimacy and real relationships. Perhaps he’s unlovable and unworthy of devotion. How can he trust anyone with his heart when, clearly, they are going to up and leave without warning? That hurts too damn much. And so, he’s lived his life on the surface, bouncing from one-night-stand to one-night-stand, never giving anyone the chance to get close.

 

Do You Still Love Me? Yes… But Dude, Give Me Some Space!

One aspect of the anxious attachment style that I had overlooked, however, is the constant need for reassurance once the heart is engaged. This is a valuable detail that can help me flesh out my character by giving him internal emotional angst about what the reciprocal feelings or intentions of his love interest might be (that’d be the fiercely independent Alexa, of course.) Her attachment style is on the secure-to-avoidant continuum because she believes marriage and family conflict with her passionate commitment to her career. So she’s decided to do without, despite inner yearnings.

 

Woman in white dress floating on her back in water

You can see where this is going, and how understanding attachment style provides fodder for conflict. As my hero and heroine get intimate and fall in love, the way one (Bruce) behaves is interpreted in a negative way by the other (Alexa) creating conflict between them. At the beginning, he avoids intimacy while she seeks to connect. Then the closer he wants to get, because things are getting serious, the more she pushes him away. This push-and-pull dance propels their relationship toward its climactic resolution. It’s beautiful… storytelling, that is.

 

What have your personal experiences been with mismatched attachment styles in your own relationships? Do you recognize yourself or your loved ones in the pages of novels? Leave a comment below and let me know. Thanks for reading!

 


 

GIVEAWAYS GALORE

I’ve got THREE giveaways going on right now, all for my book Reconcilable Differences. The first is with LibraryThing, for 100 digital copies. Request one by scrolling down and clicking the yellow button– and then leave a review, please.

The second is for 10 signed print copies with Goodreads. If you haven’t got a copy yet, enter and maybe you’ll win. Here’s the link. For the third awesome giveaway, see the box below. It started Monday and ends October 3rd. You won’t want to miss out.

Life Change and Personal Growth in the Face of Adversity –
Women’s Fiction at its Best

I’m one of several authors doing an Instafreebie Group Giveaway for up to 58 Women’s Fiction titles you can download for free just by clicking… and you choose which ones you’re interested in. So easy! Click here.

VOTE FOR ME PLEASE

Also, The Art of Enchantment is nominated for the 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. Will you do me a huge favour? I hope you’ll consider voting for The Art of Enchantment here. Scroll through to Romance. Fingers crossed! Thank you so much.

GRAB A COPY – LEAVE A REVIEW

You can buy either book if you haven’t yet. Go to my Home Page or the RD Store for convenient links to Amazon, Indigo and elsewhere. Don’t forget to leave a review when you’re done. Thanks!

The Art of Enchantment: FREE Sept 1-3 on Amazon

The Art of Enchantment: FREE Sept 1-3 on Amazon

The Art of Enchantment book cover
Below see my latest Book Bubble on Bublish to read another tempting sample from this Chatelaine Grand Prize winning, Reader’s Favorite Five Star, Romantic Women’s Fiction novel. Or click the link above to see my author profile and read all my book bubbles. Then browse other authors and read theirs too!