Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lessons from an Expert

Normally on Wednesdays I profile writers and their new books. Today I am going to change things up a little because this past weekend I spent a day listening to several writing experts that gave me  a ton of information that I found very valuable and might be of use to other romance writers. They also re-inspired my own writing, which is always a good thing for any writer.

Today in My Writing Corner I want to share what I learned from the great Cassie Miles, who has been writing romantic suspense Intrigues for Harlequin for years. She already has a new title out in 2015, Mountain Retreat, which was released in January.  

Spending an afternoon listening to her talk about writing romance was not only an inspiration, but great fun. With an infectious sense of humor she talked about the various things we all need to know about writing romance. 

For instance, it’s critical to know where your romance will sell.  Is it a contemporary romance, historical, inspirational, paranormal, or suspense?  But there is more to know then simply the sub genre of your story. These days romances might also contain varying shades of sensuality, everything from sweet romances to the very erotic.  Confusing what one is writing can lead to total rejection from publishers or readers.  

The market is flourishing with the possibilities of selling e-books, mass market paperbacks or trade books. Again, it is important to do the homework and know where you book will work the best. Of course, she also mentioned how many new writers and even established authors are turning to self-publishing so that has also become a viable option. Romance readers are voracious and it continues to be the most popular genre that readers buy.  

She suggested picking your Trope. That is the subject for the romance you are writing. She warned about staying away from clich├ęs, but look to the trope. Is your story about unrequited love, amnesia, or perhaps a marriage of convenience? Perhaps it is a fish out of water story or a secret from the past that haunts your main characters.  These are all tropes that can be successful in a romance. 

Next, she suggests picking a hero who is usually an Alpha male who readers can respond to.  He might be a billionaire or a cowboy, military man or a rock star.  Firemen are always popular heroes. She suggests suiting the heroine to the genre you might be writing, whether it be a sweet romance or a romantic suspense.  

It is important to have the hero and heroine meet very quickly in a romance, and hook the reader. One thing she suggested staying away from was to have the heroine driving down the road. She said if you must put your main characters in a car at the beginning of the story, make it the end pf a journey or the beginning of a trip. Don’t put the heroine in a car thinking about about the past or why she is either driving away or driving to something. This is a slow beginning that won’t tempt editors or readers.  

She also stressed the importance of characterizations. As you write, she said to make certain there is motivation for your characters and that there will be plenty of conflict. That is what drives the story.  She also noted that don’t simply give motivation to your main characters. The bad guys in the story need to be motivated as well. And if you feel your story is slowing down, use those villains. Have them do something evil to the hero or heroine to keep the plot moving.  

The story should have more than one thing that is keeping the hero and heroine apart. Make them have at least three obstacles that prevent the hero and heroine from getting together.  

As for the writing style of a romance, she said to read as many as possible to see what others are doing, but you should develop your own personal style. Give the readers a reason to look for your books.  

These are all great tips from someone who has been in the romance-writing trenches and who says she will continue to write romantic suspense. Her goal is to turn out three to four books a year.    

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