Coming June 3rd…Keeping It Fresh

Romance Writers chat topic for June 3 Keeping It Fresh

Writing kissing and sex scenes over and over has the potential to become stale or boring. How many different ways can you say, “They kissed”? What do you do when you’ve used the words “lips,” “tongues,” and “mouths” too many times in the same scene? Have you ever used the phrase, “Their tongues battled for dominance”? And really, how often do your characters need to “look” at each other? Let’s talk about how to keep it fresh in your relationship–with words–and how to get through those sexy scenes without repeating the same old words and phrases. Join us Sunday, June 3rd, at 7pm EST/4pm PST.

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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

Coming April 22nd . . . Show and Tell

RWchat 4-22-18

“Show Don’t Tell.” We’ve heard it from the time we first start writing–show what’s happening in the story, don’t just tell the reader. But there’s a balance. Sometimes it’s appropriate to “tell” sometimes it’s best to “show.” How do you decide which one technique to use? What has your relationship been with this touted of writing rules? Do you follow it, have you ever followed it?

Join us on Sunday to chat about it #rwchat 4pm EST / 7pm PST.  

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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Using Research to Deepen Characterization

The October 22nd chat is about research! #RWchat co-host Alexis Daria weighs in on doing research for her debut contemporary romance, Take the Lead.

I thought writing a contemporary would be easy.

Wait. Let me backtrack: I hate doing research. So I thought writing a contemporary romance would be easier than, say, a historical. No research, right?

Little did I know.

When I set out to write Take the Lead, I thought I had obtained enough dance knowledge from years of watching Dancing with the Stars to write a book that was kind of about dancing and mostly about people getting out of their own way to find love. And then I hit the first dance scene…and I was stuck. I didn’t know enough about dance to write a character who was a professional dancer.

Sure, I suppose I could have just skimmed the details and said, “They danced across the porch,” and left it at that. I knew which dance they were doing—a sensible waltz—but I wanted to use more dance vocabulary and detail. So I opened a browser and did a quick bit of research.

waltz nick sharna gif
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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.

Continue reading