In April, I lost a dear reader friend, and mentor. Vince Mooney. Vince was a devotee and champion of the romance genre.
His sharp analytical skills and marketing background positioned him to be an objective reader and reviewer, with a desire to determine the structure of the genre.
What sets some authors apart?
Vince's analysis and deconstruction of hundreds of novels led him to the RPP Theory. Rewards Per Page. This theory has impacted my own writing as I strive to improve my craft.
RPP (Rewards per Page) is about providing the best reading experience for your readers.
"Accomplished “reading experience” authors realize that fans don’t actually want romance books – many already have embarrassingly large TBR piles. Fans don’t even really want to read romance books. What fans want and what fans buy are the “reading experiences” and thus the “bundle of feelings” these books are capable of providing. Romance fans can actually have “cravings” for specific feelings. Even a fan who has over 100 books in her TBR pile, may still buy your book because she is craving the “bundle of feelings” she hopes she will obtain by reading your romance. " -Vince Mooney
After seven years of research, Vince found that Nora Roberts was the highest scorer of RPP. He cautions that RPP is not a panacea. You still have to do everything else right. All the rules of writing still apply. You just have to change your focus from “your novel being judged as a totality” to “your novel being judged as a rewarding, page-by-page, reading experience."
Take a look at RPP. I promise you, it will change your writing, for the better.
The Art of Rewards per Page or Scoring the page-by-page reading experience based on the rewards a writer gives a reader, by Vince Mooney.
■ 1. Give the reader new experiences
Take the reader to places she has never been. Treat the reader to smells, foods, and sights she is not likely to otherwise encounter. (For example, try a new coffee, tea, or other product. Show a new way to make coffee. The point here is that as you plan your novel it would be wise to also plan ways to give your reader new experiences.)
■ 2. Five-sense copy
Involve odor, taste, and touch as often as it makes sense within the storyline. Use hot, cold, hunger, and thirst. Five-sensing can be used to provide ‘new’ experiences and also to enhance the vicarious experience your story provides the reader.
■ 3. An expanded array of emotion
The phenomenon of ‘vicarious experience’ allows readers to feel what your characters are feeling – or at least what your heroine is feeling. These feelings can include: being loved, desired, envied, jealous, victorious, cherished, prideful, fearful, beautiful, approved of, angry, sorrowful, in doubt, joyous, hateful, and feeling betrayed.
■ 4. Anticipatory Events where the reader looks forward to the resolution
Anticipatory events create situations in which the reader looks forward to finding the resolution. Secrets work well as AEs. Other AEs include: ‘going to a big event—like a dance’, ‘who will win an award’, ‘who will get the job’, ‘what will happen when Mary finally meets her ex-husband,’ and so on.
■ 5. Make Anticipatory Events happen sooner than the reader expects
It is said that ‘a debt paid early is twice paid.’ Providing AE resolutions early is a reward in itself.
■ 6. Provide Factoids
Factoids can also include ‘how-to’ items. (Like how an Italian cook might solve a cooking problem such as too much spice in a soup.) Factoids are so popular that the term ‘factoid’ is now in general usage. (As strong as factoids are, a writer must be very careful to seamlessly work them into her writing. Factoids cannot be used simply because the author wants to reward a reader.)
■ 7. Sparkles--the poetic use of words
- fresh and unique ways of expression
-a selection of words the reader has never heard or seen before
Sparkles also include new terms to take the place of worn-out romance phrases like ‘toes curled’, ‘knees turn to jelly’, ‘took her to where she had never been before’, etc.
■ 8. Quips. Quotes and Wisecracks
These cover a lot of ground. Ideally, these are sayings that the reader can enjoy and perhaps use herself in the right situation. Janet Evanovich’s books are plum full of wisecracks and are a joy to read. In an interview, Janet once said that she considered herself to be an entertainer more than a writer. Wow! This goes right to the heart of writing to the ‘reading experience’.
■ 9. Crystal clear writing.
An author can also reward a reader by writing crystal clear prose that can only be interpreted by the reader in the way the author intended. A careful writer will read each sentence and ask herself, “are there any other ways this sentence can be interpreted?”
Vince was one of the first readers to critique the first three chapters of Sabotaged Mission, releasing July 26th, 2022. It's my first romantic suspense. The results were brutal, for which, I give thanks. I have grown as a writer, thanks to his insight.
RPP is Vince Mooney's gift to romance writers.
Vince, you will be missed. I salute you, my friend.