For those of you who couldn’t attend, every year I share the best, the “golden,” writing tips and industry advice from the workshops I attend at the Romance Writers of America conference.
- To ramp up tension, skip some of the Twelve Levels of Intimacy. (Not familiar with the twelve levels of intimacy? Read Jenny Hansen’s post here.)
- Precise word choice enhances physical description and conveys “hidden” meanings, like “sharp”nose, hard jawline, ice blue eyes to show a hero may be dangerous or a naked overhead bulb in a bedroom setting.
- Show the physiological response of characters
- Subtext: When you notice something really interesting below the surface.
- Subtext drives conflict and character arc.
- Good subtext is invisible.
- When you give crucial information about the character up front you give readers a Rosetta Stone to your characters.
- Use symbols throughout your book. Example: He fell in love with her when she was wearing a red scarf. He’s apart from her, but when he sees a flash of red, he looks, hoping it’s her.
“Mistakes we Made” Group Panel:
- The stronger your market brand, the more books you will sell.
- Make your bio personable.
- “Ad stacking” sells books. (“Ad stacking” is small ads “stacked” during the same week.)
- Publish and distribute directly where you can.
- Join Kindle Boards before you publish.
- Right now, before you publish, establish an online presence and start building your e-mail list.
- Get a professional head shot. (On my To Do list!)
- Hire a professional editor who is comfortable with your genre.
- Hire a professional cover designer.
- Have a proofreader read the book at the end of the editing process.
Jennifer Crusie on Metaphor and Motif:
- Two of the most effective tools for subtext are metaphor and motif.
- Motif is any element (word, symbol, sound) that is repeated at least three important times in your book.
- Motif can be a line of dialogue that is repeated at least three times in your book, especially good if it changes meaning during the story.
- A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses a concrete image for an abstract idea.
- Never make their meanings explicit!
Kristan Higgins on Secondary Plots:
- Secondary plots layer your book and make it interesting.
- They help with saggy middles. (You can read Fae’s blog about fixing a saggy middle here.)
- Secondary characters get away with things your main characters can’t do.
- They demonstrate attributes and flaws of your protagonist in a hands-on, palpable way.
- Make your secondary characters and plots just as multi-faceted as your main characters and plot.
- Don’t shove in a character because he’ll get his own book later.
Madeline Hunter on Taking Your Writing to the Next Level:
- Raise the stakes to improve your story.
- Cut 10-15% of your word count when you edit.
- Your dialogue should matter and create plot points.
- You must engage in the emotional content of the story.
Michael Hauge on Identity to Essence:
- Any good story is a before and after picture.
- Conflict must elicit emotion in the reader.
- More than half of the obstacles for your character need to come in the last half of your novel. They should come closer and closer together.
- To create empathy with your hero, make her the victim of some underserved misfortune.
- Good story-telling is about manipulation. There is a problem if the reader sees the “strings.”
- Our identities are who we believe we are. If you strip away the identity, you have the essence, the potential of what the character can become if she has the courage.
- Your characters can not achieve the outer goal unless they move out of identity and into their essence.
Laura Drake on submitting your book: You know, Fae, you can’t sell a book if you don’t send it when someone asks for it. Okay, Laura, I sent the first book off yesterday morning. Book Two will be sent by the end of the week. By the way, I love your cheerleader outfit!
Some of the workshops were two hours and contained much wonderful, useful information. If you want more information about any of the “lines” above, let me know in the comments and I’ll add some brief clarifications.
Willing to add your Golden Lines from RWA 2015 or a conference you recently attended? Share the wealth in a comment. And don’t forget, we all have our own golden lines of writing wisdom. We’d love to see yours.
Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.
Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong. She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight and pay bills.
A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand their stories be told. Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.