Tag Archives: Harlequin

Shannon’s Top Three Tips for Writing Romance

7 Feb

It’s February, so romance is in the publishing air. Whether or not you write romance novels or have romantic subplots in your work, almost every writer has had to think through a couple’s relationship in their work. 

Here are my top three tips for writing romance.

1. Read Romance: As Stephen King famously said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools to write. Simple as that.” Reading romance novels, or novels that have romantic subplots, will help you learn the beats of a romantic plotline. (You should also check out Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes. It’s a nonfiction craft book dedicated to understanding romance beats.) My favorite go-to romance books are Harlequin. Why? Though the various imprints have particular expectations, every book is focused on romance, and it’s so easy to spot tropes from the cover, title, and synopsis. They tend to run very short, too, so you can read a bunch very quickly. Even with a shorter word count, you’ll be amazed how tight these plots are. These authors will really inspire you to find ways to cut to the chase. Keep in mind that the romance books you read don’t necessarily have to be in the same genre that you’re writing in. I primarily write fantasy and, while I definitely read enough fantasy to study those romantic subplots, I’ve found contemporary romance books have actually helped me understand writing romance more. Probably because there is less distraction (world building, war, magic, etc.) Basically, make sure you’re reading romance in your genre, but don’t be afraid to branch out either. 

2. Requited love is nice, but it doesn’t make much of a ballad. Cassandra Clare’s character Will said that when referring to why characters are put through so much hardship in stories, and I’ve never heard such a true sentiment. Listen, you’re writing a story. Stories require tension and excitement. A what if. In romance, that what if is will they get together? You have to string that question out in some way. If your characters famously get along, your reader will wonder why they aren’t together. Some writers take that to mean that a couple must disagree or not communicate, and that’s not true. There’s lots of reasons people stay apart. Beliefs. Expectations. Distance. Responsibilities, such as taking care of their family. Work that doesn’t allow them time to date. Fear of rejection. I could go on and on. You can definitely still have tension even if your couple is communicating well. But there must be tension somewhere. Your couple is made up of different people with their own goals, who happen to cross each other’s path. I think every romance novel benefits when those paths hit a crossroad in some way. Do they choose themselves or their love for each other? Bam. Tension. At the end of the day, something in their lives is unrequited

3. Couples should complement each other in some way. Is he shy and her outgoing? Is she struggling to find the last piece of the puzzle and her lover has it in her hands? Take a look at your favorite bookish couples and you’ll see that they often complement each other’s personalities and goals. They push each other to be better people or to look at the world in a new way. They experience personality traits of the other that their friends/family do not get to see. When you’re revisiting your favorite couples, ask yourself why they appealed to you. What scenes made your heart pitter-patter? Make a list. You might see a pattern emerge of tropes you love, such as the one-bed trope, brother’s best friend, enemies-to-lovers, etc. Once you know what tropes you want to work with, it’ll be so much easier to form your story.

Honestly, though, I could go on and on about romance. If you love reading romance, I’d love it if you check out my young adult paranormal romance, the Timely Death trilogy. The first book, Minutes Before Sunset, is currently free! It’s set in Kansas and follows two magical teens, who realize they’re fated to fall in love… and die.

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: Writing Tips: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

8 Jun

Intro:

Over the past two (almost three) years here on www.ShannonAThompson.com, I’ve shared numerous writing tips. I love writing tips. Even though everyone’s approach to writing is different, I think there is a lot to be benefitted from exploring new options by seeing how someone else does it. That is why I am so excited to have author Inge Saunders on today. She’s sharing her favorite writing tips, and you can share yours too! We all know there are some great ones out there. And some bad ones. Feel free to discuss them both, but be sure to welcome Inge Saunders!

Writing Tips: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly by Inge Saunders

My name is Inge Saunders and . . . I`m an author. ::waves:: Now that my AA-like intro is done, I`m going to jump right into it, because let`s be honest, you didn`t come here for the coffee. ::wink:: You want some writing tips. And I have to add, these tips I go to every time I`m in the process of starting a new story or am in the self-editing phase.

I`m a romance writer, so a lot of my writing tips I got from the different groups I form part of, like ROSA (Romance writers’ Organization of South Africa), my Facebook Hearts on Paper group (we formed after all of us entered Harlequin`s SYTYCW), Marketing for Romance Writers, and my publisher (Decadent Publishing).

Falling-For-Mr.-Unexpected-200x300One of my favourite tips for writing is this: #1. Read. Read EVERYTHING. The good, the bad, the ugly. ::laughs:: Not only will you start to recognise what`s good but you`ll also know what doesn’t work. And hopefully, what`s working for you and against you in your writing. Study the books as you read. I`m the youngest of three, and according to psychology, I learn best through hands-on mentorship. Which means, if you`re going to teach me something, show me how it`s not done and how it should be done. So this principle works for me. I`m naturally inclined to understand it, and I hope this tip works for you too. ::smile::

In January, I did an interview on writing for beginners on a fellow ROSA`s blog Ylette Pearson and she asked me, “If you have to choose only one element (setting/character development/structure/conflict/ etc.) that is absolutely essential to every novel you’ve written, what would it be? Why?” I chose conflict. Why? This brings me to #2. Conflict makes the story interesting, keeps you and the reader interested. When there`s no conflict or it can be solved with a simple conversation, it`s not enough. I`ve dropped many a project because there wasn`t enough conflict. Suspense is power. Use it, enjoy it!

I love what Christina Dodd said, and it`s my #3. “Torture your hero early and often; it develops his character, sort of like roasting nuts brings out the flavour”. I don`t think this quote needs anything added. ::wink::

I have a WIP I completed during NaNoWriMo last year, Elastic Heart. There was a moment where I struggled writing my main characters and I discovered this nifty tip from WritersWrite.com #4. Write 20 things your reader will never know about your character. This will naturally bleed into your writing and provide richness even though you don`t share the detail. Another bonus is this; your characters will become alive to you. They`ll literally breathe on the page. When you meet someone for the first time you don`t know their back-story, but you know they have one. The same principle counts here.

The next tip I always, as in always, apply because if I don`t I might as well give up writing #5. Write from the heart and write the story you would want to read. Both my novels at Decadent Publishing are stories that came from ‘selfishly’ writing stories/characters I wanted to read more about. It`s not vanity. It`s not saying, “Hey, only I can write a story that involves ‘this’ and ‘that’.” Uh . . . no. You are the first audience you’re writing to; why are you writing, if you yourself aren`t interested in it? See where I`m going with this? ::smile:: I`m sure when you`re done, someone else would want to read that story too.

And last but certainly not least is this wonderful quote I found #6. Don`t worry. You`ll figure it out—you always do. Just keep writing. Which if you really think about it as a dedicated writer, you really do figure it out. Even if it means calling that friend up to chat through a plot, stepping out of your writing cave to breathe in the autumn air (here in SA) or doing some research on the internet. You do figure it out and you do keep on writing.

Thank you, Shannon, for having me today, and thank you for allowing me into your head space for a moment. ::waves goodbye::

Bio:

Inge Saunders fell in love with books when she started reading romance novels with her grandmother. Intrigued by the worlds books unlocked, it was inevitable that she would take pen to paper.

At age fourteen she wrote her first novel that wasn`t such a roaring success according to her brother. Not discouraged she realized something fundamental. As a writer you can only write about what interest you, a principal she still upholds in adulthood.

With a Honors degree in Community Development and Learning Support, she`s a former high school teacher who now`s a partner in a small décor business. And for someone who never thought they would ever wear the ‘label’ entrepreneur, she`s proud to be known as one. She`s active in her community-involved with local NGO`s – and her church. When she`s not writing she`s reading, spending time with friends and family, taking long-long walks in her town`s Botanical Garden (Karoo Park) and losing herself in a storyline.

You can find Inge`s latest release, Falling for Mr. Unexpected, here:

Decadent PublishingAmazoniTunesKobo

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: