Last Saturday I had a great time (and learned a lot) at a workshop organised by the Birmingham Chapter of the
Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was held in the lovely surroundings of the new Library of Birmingham.
Sue Moorcroft came to talk to us about writing romantic novels. She gave us much good advice such as:
- Know the publisher/market you are aiming for before beginning the book and she told us that Harper Impulse are currently open to submissions.
- Have a one sentence synopsis to describe the book and also know what tone you are writing in i.e. light and frothy, grittty, tearjerker etc.
- When planning the story, avoid listing the scenes/ideas down the page. Instead use a spider diagram so that your brain is not chanelled into what happens when too soon – instead your mind can jump about and pick the most appropriate scene.
- What should you do when a story runs out of steam or you have a ‘saggy’ middle? Introduce something dramatic such as the revelation of a secret, a new character (maybe an ex-boyfriend or an illigitimate baby), a skeleton in the cupboard or anything else that will add drama to the situation.
- Keep the hero and heroine apart by giving them conflicting goals.
- The traits required of heros and heroines – they should both be decent, honest people but should have some flaws and vulnerability like the rest of us.
- A prologue (where the book lends itself to it) gives the author two chances to hook the reader (once in the prologue and once in chapter one)
- Chapter One should move the story forward. Do not clutter it with back story or scene setting.
- An epilogue can be used to prolong the reader’s feeling of happy satisfaction at the end of a book. It may be a wedding, new baby or other tieing up of loose ends.
- When writing, remember Act, React and Interact. This will make it easier to Show rather than Tell. For example the characters should react to their environment – such as squinting at the sun – rather than the author describing the sunny day.
We had a lovely buffet lunch and the whole day ran smoothly. Special mention should go to Marilyn Rodwell for her organisational skills and her doughnuts which gave us all a sugar kick first thing in the morning!
And if you’d like more of Sue’s invaluable advice take a look at her book Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction – available in paperback or as an e-book.
#1 by Anne Harvey on April 10, 2014 - 10:13 am
Another high standard blog, Sally. You have summed the day up beautifully. I’ve done one too but chose to do a precis.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on April 10, 2014 - 2:16 pm
Thanks, Anne – I enjoyed your post about the day too. And you were quicker off the mark with it than me!
#3 by Wendy Clarke on April 10, 2014 - 11:20 am
This is excellent advice. Thank you for sharing, Sally.
#4 by Sally Jenkins on April 10, 2014 - 2:16 pm
It’s a pleasure, Wendy.
#5 by Annie on April 10, 2014 - 4:49 pm
Thank you Sally, you have done a super job in summing up the marvellous day. Thank you.
#6 by Sally Jenkins on April 10, 2014 - 4:53 pm
I think we all had an inspiring time, Annie.
#7 by susanjanejones on April 14, 2014 - 6:59 pm
Fab blog post Sally, sounds great, and Sue is marvelous. I’ve got that book, and I studied it before starting my novel. Which has saggy middle syndrome… Not easy is it, I’ll keep on though, and will print out this blog post for reference, thanks.
#8 by Sally Jenkins on April 14, 2014 - 7:14 pm
It is definitely not easy, Susan! Good luck sorting out that saggy middle!
#9 by Linda on April 16, 2014 - 1:26 pm
Some great tips here, thanks to you – and Sue!
#10 by Sally Jenkins on April 16, 2014 - 3:03 pm
Mostly thanks to Sue I think, Linda!