One of the details that it's recommended you include in letters to agents is a comparison between your writing and that of known authors. But, while I would love to be able to say that my writing is reminsicent of Robin McKinley's or Diana Wynne Jones' - it's not.
A slightly better wording suggested is "Fans of Robin McKinley or Diana Wynne Jones may enjoy my novels". Which is true! I am just such a fan, and I enjoy my novels.
But I can't name any authors who I'm "like".
I can't decide if it's a bad thing. More a question of interests. I like to explore certain things in my stories - the effect of magic on society, the morality of mages, the concept of a ruler as a servant bonded to their land - and it's rare I will spend a lot of time describing something like swordfights. Are swordfights interesting? Sometimes. I've read some fascinating descriptions of swordfights, where what is being demonstrated is the nature of the swordsman, or the way movement becomes art. But in other cases detailed swordfights become skim material.
The same with romance: so many of the fantasy romances I read are not my cup of tea. I'm just as interested in how a couple adapt to being together as the obstacles to them getting together in the first place and often feel disappointed at where the characters' stories end. And if the obstacles involve misunderstandings or one of the characters tediously denying how they feel then my enjoyment wanes. An absolute turnoff is if the romance involves a normally intelligent female getting herself into some sort of mess while her male counterpart keeps an indulgent eye on her and eventually untangles her. A few of Georgette Heyer's novels do this and it is so annoying to read. I like romances which are partnerships, not babysitting.
If ever I catch some readers, I shall be very interested to see who - if anyone - I'm compared to.
07 March 2010
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