JR Ward has put together a collection of short stories, deleted scenes, character studies and writing advice Insider’s Guide to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. It’s an excellent resource for writers who enjoy the paranormal romance/urban fantasy genres, but it’s a bit too behind-the-scenes for the average reader.
The book begins with a novella that explores the relationship between the vampire couple Bella and Zsadist after the birth of their child. Years prior to the timeline in the book series, Zsadist lived a life of slavery, and until he met Bella, he believed he was bad news for any woman. Bella and other characters help him heal his little daughter and build a good relationship with her. The novella offers a deeper look into the characters as well as a nice appetizer to help loyal readers wait for the next book to come out.
The short section of deleted scenes – JR Ward uses most of the material she writes, so there are few deleted scenes – which give additional insight into the characters. Many of the other snippets and character interviews are sourced from the Black Dagger Brotherhood website, so they’re not uncharted territory for many fans of the series.
JR Ward included a chapter entitled For Writers. In it she gives her eight commandments for writing:
- Persevere and Reinvent: Keep writing and make changes to your focus as needed.
- Write it out loud: Don’t censor your vision. Hold it to the side as best you can.
- Own Your Own Work: Learn and practice to become a better writer. Don’t rely on everyone else to solve your writing problems.
- Storylines are like sharks: your storyline moves the most or it dies.
- Sweat equity is the best investment: writing is a job, and the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
- Conflict is King: Without conflict, there is no story worth telling.
- Believable Surprise is Queen: You shouldn’t be able to guess what’s going to happen too early in the story, but the characters’ actions have to be believable.
- Listen to your Rice Krispies: let your characters be who they are. Capture them as they appear to you.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t really define them in this section. Rather, the previous section of character dossiers provides definitions and specific examples for each bid.
That Insider Guide is a good book, but it suffers from trying to be everything for everyone. Writers looking for a writing book will likely be disappointed by the number of pages that don’t cover writing at all. The inclusion of writing tips in sections of the book not specifically labeled for authors could prevent those readers from finding the real heart of the writing tips.
Readers of the series will skim the pages of Ward’s writing process and end the book wishing there were more stories.
The best target audience for the book are writers of paranormal stories. You’ll enjoy the specific information about the genre, the stories shedding light on the characters in the books, and the interesting way Ward treats her characters. Of particular interest is the book proposal, presented as submitted, errors and all.
Publisher: New American Library
Release date: October 2008