Reading to Write

So I can't help but read romances as a writer and some writers have been particularly good teachers. Here are a few, at random:

  • Piper Lawson for the telling detail. In just a few words Lawson can create a vivid image or voice, like this example from her recent book Chased: "It's the predictable dance of preppy trust fund kids, marching inevitably toward producing a new generation of bright-eyed robots. In ten years they'll have two blond toddlers in designer overalls. She'll be on Prozac and he'll be fucking the babysitter." And just like that we know a lot about our hero Chase and his first impressions of our heroine: we glimpse his worldview, his tone of voice, and the chip on his shoulder that's going to come between them. Like Chase himself, Lawson is never boring and how many writers can you say that about, really?
  • Elizabeth Hoyt for detailed description. Read her introduction to Valentine, Duke of Montgomery, in Duke of Sin (coming out soon, in fact) to see what I mean. Diamond-studded shoes. Velvet overcoat. Lace cuffs. See, I can't do it, but she sure can. Writers who can pull that off tend to end up writing historicals for obvious reasons.
  • Madeline Hunter for immersing readers in odd professional worlds. See the eighteenth-century art auction business in The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne or nineteenth-century scholarly publishing in Lessons of Desire. You learn something new in every book.
  • Sherry Thomas for total world-making. I was just as drawn into the magical universe of her sci fi Elemental Trilogy as the world of nineteenth-century China in My Beautiful Enemy. Her books earn that overused word cinematic.
  • Penny Reid for charming farce. Her ninja heroine actually goes undercover to rescue her husband...and it's strangely believable. And she writes the very best nerdy heroines. Annie from The Hooker and the Hermit (with L.H. Cosway) and Kaitlyn from Elements of Chemistry are clueless and adorkable.
  •  Elle Kennedy for hot sex scenes that manage to advance the plot and reveal the characters' inner emotions. Sex scenes rarely, umm, come together like that. The sex scenes in the Off Campus series are funny, tender, sweet, surprising, dirty, inventive,...and always personal to that couple.
  • Melanie Ting for out-there experimentation with plot. I don't always like it as a reader, but as a writer I am in awe of her unconventional storylines. Hockey is My Boyfriend is told in three parts with two competing heroes. In How the Cookie Crumbles the hero is actually unattractive for the first half of the book and pretty unlikeable for the second half. It's as if Ting sets herself impossible writing challenges with each book. I admire that.

I want to find someone for witty dialogue but I've already fan-girled on Courtney Milan for that in another post. I could go on and on, but I already have --