Guest Post: Let Them Eat Cake, The New Show Don’t Tell

Michelle Hazen has some wise words for us on the essence of the SHOW DON’T TELL principle! (This post was originally published on Michelle’s blog.)

Everybody’s heard of show don’t tell, right? That’s so 90s. I say, stop abusing your readers. Let them eat cake!

Before you click out of this blog, grumbling, “There goes Michelle, off topic as usual,” think of it this way: what are your readers here for?

If you write fiction, your readers are here for a good time. A vicarious experience. So why would you short-change them by giving them the literary equivalent of Cliff’s Notes? That’s what you’re doing every time you SUMMARIZE (They sat down and chatted for a while, laughing easily as they got to know each other) or TELL (He was in love with her. More in love than he’d ever been.) Continue reading

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Guest Post: From Pantser To Plotter, Sort Of

To get ready for our Project Management Chat, our guest today, Jemi Fraser shares her journey from pantsing (writing “by the seat of your pants”) to plotting a story in advance.

 

When I started writing, it was totally for me. As a kid, I’d created many, many stories in my head. When I had two little kids running around my house and a full time job, I decided to try writing down a Star Trek story. Over the months, every last angsty, over-the-top word poured out. I had a blast!

A year later, I wrote another story. This one was to be the first in a series with a slow-building love interest. The MC was a reporter, the hero a cop. That story poured out as well.

And thus a pantser was born.

If you haven’t heard the term, pantser applies to those who write without a plan, by the seat of their pants. This is in contrast to plotters who enjoy working with outlines and other devices of torture.

Over the next few years, I wrote a few more stories and at one point I thought I should try to write a Real Book. I discovered NaNoWriMo on October 31st that year and wrote my 50k during November, then wrote another 120k to finish the story.

That overweight story had some potential, so I ventured online and found out about agents and queries. I had no idea that so many people wanted to write novels and I was thrilled to find other aspiring writers. Then a critique group. And finally, FINALLY, I found out about revision. We’d had no creative writing courses in school and despite the thousands of words I’d written I knew nothing about revision. And the idea of plotting out the story in advance? Shocking!

Eventually I wondered if those crazy Plotters might have discovered something rather helpful. Maybe plotting wouldn’t take the joy of discovery out of the story. Maybe it would help with the ENDLESS rounds of revision I’d been working on.

Maybe.

With a little trepidation, I tried my own idea of Plotting.

  • Character names, jobs, and major personality traits
  • Setting
  • Crisis moment
  • Ending = HEA

Altogether, my plotting encompassed about 150 words.

It worked. Sort of.

Yes, I had a better idea of the shape of the novel, but it still left me with too much clean up.

I tried a few craft books. They hurt my head. I don’t make To Do lists. I think Big Picture and work mostly on gut and emotion. These books with their lists, questions, arcs, and bullet points probably work really, really well for people with more linear brains. My poor global brain did a lot of whimpering. Imposter Syndrome set in. Hard.

Then I stumbled across Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker. This book helped my brain relax a little bit. Libbie’s style wasn’t a perfect fit for me (are any two brains really alike?) but it was a better guideline. Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes added another layer.

Before I started my current draft, I thought a lot about my characters and their flaws. I thought about how those flaws would contribute to the plot and the problems they’d encounter along the way. I made a separate Path for each character. I blended the Paths together.

As I’m writing this, I’m nearing the end of that draft and feeling pretty good about it. I’ve tweaked the Paths as I’ve written, but I haven’t strayed too far. The biggest advantage is that the conflict is much easier to maintain.

Now I just have to wait and see how many revision rounds this story will take. Who knows, maybe it will be the one to kick start my querying process!

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Guest Post: Engaging on Twitter Outside of #RWChat

shutterstock_321433031We’re talking about social media marketing all month long and the wonderful and ever-talented Harper Miller wrote us a little something about building up engagement on Twitter!

Social media is my jam, and it’s probably because I’m a social butterfly outside of the World Wide Web. It’s no secret I want to know all the people! Every author is told that to build a following, you need accounts on the Top Three Social Media Websites: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I have accounts on those platforms, and a few others, but sometimes those additional platforms can be tedious, so I barely use them. My Holy Grail of social media platforms is Twitter. Continue reading

Guest Post: Consent Is Key In Romance

Tamsen Parker took on the tough topic of consent in romance, as per our chat this Sunday, and she makes some great points for us to think about.

Consent has become a bigger part of the romance conversation than ever before, and it’s a conversation that is essential to have. We don’t live in the era of the bodice ripper anymore when I’d argue that women were demonstrating agency by writing stories in which they could still obtain sexual pleasure without receiving society’s censure for acting “unladylike,” or for, heaven forbid, admitting that they wanted sex. We don’t have to do that anymore. Which raises the question: what is our responsibility in regards to consent in the romances we pen?

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Love Scenes Guest Post: Don’t Speak

sexy couple drinking wineIt’s Flirty February! This week on #RWchat, we’re talking about love scenes! Regular participant LaQuette (author of the Queens of Kings series) is known for writing extra hot love scenes, so we asked her to handle this week’s guest post. Take it away, LaQuette!

I love romance novels. To my way of thinking, that should be a given since I write them for a living. I love the excitement of experiencing the couple’s journey to love. I love knowing I’m going to get a happy ending when it’s finished. And yes, I even love all of the sizzling parts that make me put down my reading device and fan myself because the chemistry and/or love scene is so hot (if you’re not having this experience while reading a romance novel you are missing out on everything that is good in life).

Now that you know I love romance novels, you should also know there is one thing that irks my reader’s brain while reading one. The one thing that will make me roll my eyes, and snatch me out of the reading experience quicker than anything else is too much dialogue during a sex scene.

For the love of all things holy, please, just NO!!

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The Impact of Setting on Story

RWchat setting graphicThis week on #RWchat, we’re talking about writing strong settings. Regular participant Kate McMurray (What’s the Use of Wondering?) teaches workshops on setting, including one that starts today, so we asked her to write a guest post for us on the power of setting. Take it away, Kate!

When we talk about craft, we often talk about plot and character, and these are of course vital parts of any novel. But so is setting, which I think often gets overlooked in the planning phase. I’d argue that setting is just as important as plot and character, and that the intersection of these three ideas is what we call story.

Your setting shouldn’t be incidental, in other words. Where and when the story takes place has to be the only place and time that your story could take place. It should influence the plot and characters. It should be a living, breathing part of the story.

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The ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ of the Author/Reviewer Relationship

RWchat romance writer chat reviews graphic

We appreciate when reviewers and librarians chime in during #RWchat to share their insights, so we’re thrilled to share this post from Maria Rose on how to build a good relationship with book reviewers. Also make sure to check out Frannie’s post on Making the Library Your *Fan(girl).

 

Hello everyone! My thanks to Alexis Daria for inviting me to write a guest post for RWChat on the topic of book reviews. Hopefully it will give you some insight into the reviewer perspective of what should be a positive and mutually beneficial reviewer/author relationship.

A little bit about me: I’m a long time reader of romance and in 2014 I started writing reviews for Goodreads (a book review site owned by Amazon) and book sale sites. I now write for 3 main review sites as well as guest review for others. There may be other reviewers with different perspectives than mine, but these are some of the issues I’ve seen come up with authors and fellow reviewers that I think are worth discussing. Note that my thoughts relate to non-professional book review sites/blogs, not RT, Library Journal, Kirkus etc.

Whether you are a new or established author, self-published or traditionally published, everyone can benefit from having their book reviewed. As part of a marketing plan, reviews can help bring visibility to your story, your name and your brand. Here are some tips to make your book stand out in the crowd.

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