Falling in love with a new author is such a bittersweet moment. You will never love her in the same way you do as you finish that first book. Either you'll mature into a steady relationship where the heady days of roaring through the back list are traded for the long wait between books or the flash of emotion turns dull after another book or two, leaving you back on the market. One of the hurdles towards that long term relationship is discovering your new love's signature moves.
I recently discovered the marvelous Lynna Banning (who graciously donated books to our conference). I love a good western romance, but I'm very picky. Our own Paty and Linda Lael Miller are some of my favorites. I rushed right into a second Banning book, but I was slightly disconcerted by certain plot similarities, especially in the black moment and resolution. Decision time: Do I give her the critical third date? Is this a little quirk that I can live with? Am I too picky?
While wrestling with these weighty questions, I happened to be re-reading a Suzanne Brockmann book. It always helps to consider one's new paramour in light of past loves, after all. This allowed me to place my little tiff with Banning's plotting in context. ALL authors have signatures. Banning has dueling bullets. Brockmann has the hospital bed proposal. Jennifer Crusie has the best friend pow-wow. Lori Foster has the mock-kidnapping. Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips has the "moving on/but not really" time jump. Sometimes, I get tired of an author's signature--it's like watching too many Smallville Episodes in a row--just too predictable. I need more excitement, more passion.
Luckily reading is the ultimate polyamorous relationship. When I get too bored with one author's signature moves, I simply find someone new. In fact, that's how I discovered all of my favorite authors. I found "the one," but then decided that I needed to sow a little more oats before committing. Occasionally signatures become so predictable that I let a relationship die a natural death, no angry break-up, just no repeat reads. I stop getting excited about new releases and gradually shift my attentions to a new face with new moves.
Except that like with serial monogamy, eventually all relationships come back to that sticking point. Is it too predictable? Is it a signature move or is an annoying quirk? When do you draw the line? When do you move on?
Do you have signature moves in your WIPs? Do you try to avoid being too predictable? Do your favorite authors have them? When is it a signature move and when is it a lack of creativity? Thoughts?????