You might have seen on the front page of my website that I've recently written a short book for Mark Dawson from Self-Publishing Formula. It's available for download free here and contains "Ten Tips for Topping the Romance Charts." Well, apparently it's been super popular! I know when I started out writing that I was desperate for information, help, and tips. So I've dug out the original articles that inspired these tips, which I published a few years ago on another blog, and I'm going to republish them here, 2-3 times a week, until I run out of things to say! The original idea was to write 100 tips. I'll see how far I get :-)
Today, I'm going to start with an introduction.
Throughout my writing career, I’ve always been hungry for information. A good writer never stops learning, and with every book I read, I discover new and better ways to bring my characters alive and to tell the story that’s bursting to get onto the page.
As a young writer, I took several writing courses both in person and online, and read a hundred different books on how to write. Some were more useful than others. It often frustrated me that many of these books and courses concentrated on what I call the “airy-fairy” side of writing. In one class, we all had to listen to the recording of a bell tolling, and then we had to write down how this made us feel. We also had to read out a poem, following which the other members of the group told us where we’d gone wrong, which destroyed what little self-confidence I had for that week.
I just wanted to stand up and yell “TELL ME HOW TO GET PUBLISHED!” I wrote every day, I had been shortlisted in short story competitions and had even won a few, so I knew I had some talent, and I’d written several novels, but couldn’t seem to get anything accepted by agents and publishers. I wanted to know where I was going wrong. I wanted sound practical advice, but at the time I didn’t know of any book that offered the information I desperately needed.
And I can tell you what that elusive Magic Button to success is. It’s grit. Determination. Hard work. Call it what you will. The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is that the former never gave up. It’s as simple as that. But I’ll try to give you some tips to help you along the way.
Ultimately, of course, I realize now that no book is going to tell you everything you need to know, because we’re all writing different lengths of books in different genres, and some people need help with writing convincing dialogue, others need to be taught how to plot, and others need guidance on the conventions of their chosen genre. The best general writing book I’ve read is probably Stephen King’s On Writing, which tells much about his personal life as well as imparting vital information about the physical process of writing and being published. Iain Pattison’s Cracking the Short Story Market taught me about conflict (available through the Writers Bureau). If you love poetry, you could do worse than check out Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy.
So what can I possibly add to the mix? There are people far better at describing the correct use of grammar out there, for example, and Mark Dawson has done a great job in explaining the best ways to indie publish. But I’ve now (at the point of typing this) written 72 books, including 50 published romances, as well as a vast number of short stories and poems. I don’t claim to be hugely literary by any means, but I think my reviews suggest I can write convincing characters and dialogue, decent description, and I can plot well enough to keep the reader turning those pages.
These articles will try to capture some of the information I’ve gathered along the way. They could perhaps have been called “Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Writing”. If you're an aspiring writer and you’ve done your research, you may well know a good portion of it, but I hope that at least some of it will prove helpful to you. Much of it will be useful to writers of any genre, but I suspect that the vast percentage of people reading this are romance writers, and I hope it may be of extra help to you. It should be especially useful to those writers starting out, but even published writers might find the odd thing here worth knowing.
A quick word of warning—I write hot and sultry contemporary romances, meaning that my stories are fun, romantic and also vary from completely sweet to… well… let’s say they’re on the upper end of the heat scale! (although I wouldn’t call them erotica. More about classification later.) As a writer as well as a person, I don’t swear much, but I do throw in the occasional ‘F’ bomb for emphasis, and many of my books are very explicit. If swearing or talking about certain private parts of the body or reading about detailed sex scenes offend you, my work is not for you.
Lastly, I acknowledge that there is a growing market for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (or LGBTQ) romances, which is a great thing that is being recognized by romance publishers. However, I primarily write about heterosexual relationships, which is why these articles refer mainly to the “hero” and “heroine”. If you wish to write a LGBTQ romance please be assured that no offence is meant by my referring to a hero and heroine, it is just easier to refer to them this way. The rules I refer to in these articles are still relevant no matter how many main characters you have or their gender or sexuality.
Next I'll look at : What is romance?
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