Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

New Year, New You: How to write romantic fiction

To kick start the New Year, we’ve asked Sophie King, bestselling romance novelist and author of How To Write Romantic Fiction, to give us her top tips on becoming a published romance author.

‘I’m going to write a book – one day.’

Does that sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times people have said that to me. In fact, I used to say it to myself for years. After university, I became a magazine journalist because that seemed the best way to make a living until I had time and experience to write that novel. Fast forward fifteen years (and three children) and I still hadn’t done it.

So what got me going? Believe it or not, it was the combination of a thirty-something birthday and a new year resolution. ‘When are you going to write that best-seller you’re always talking about?’ asked a friend when all the corks were popping. And as everyone else started singing auld lang syne, I suddenly realised that if I didn’t start now, I might never do it.

That’s all very well but how do you get cracking if you have a job and a family? Well, here are some tips to set you on your way.

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY – AND NOR IS A BEST-SELLER
 It took me ten more years after that New Year’s Eve party to get my first book accepted. So if you don’t get an agent or a publisher as soon as you had hoped, just keep going. Real writers don’t give up. They can’t.

CHOOSE A SUBJECT WHICH EXCITES YOU
Romance is catching – both on the page and off it. If you are excited by your subject, it will leap off the page and hopefully, stir an agent.

WRITE FOR HALF AN HOUR (OR EVEN BETTER AN HOUR) EVERY DAY
No time? Try reducing your newspaper reading time (get your news from the radio instead). Or get up an hour earlier. Go to bed an hour later. Scribble in your lunch hour. Ask a friend to have the children and do a reciprocal swap.

DRAW UP AN ACTION PLAN FOR THE YEAR
Challenge yourself to write one chapter a week. That will be 52 by the end of the year. Make sure that something big happens in each chapter to keep the reader’s attention going. Each character needs to have a problem in order for the plot to keep moving. Ask yourself what he or she wants in life. Write a mini biography for every character in your book to help you understand him or her. What are they scared of? I help myself visualise my cast by cutting out pictures from magazines and sticking them on a cork board.

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Find out what writing festivals you can get to in the year ahead and put the dates in your diary. Not all literary festivals are for published writers only. Some, like the Festival of Writing which is held in York in the autumn, offers one to one appointments with publishers and agents. This can be a great opportunity to get an expert interested in your manuscript.

TAKE OUT A SUBSCRIPTION TO A WRITING MAGAZINE
Writers Magazine and Writers Forum both have up to date news about new agents and publishers. I’ve personally found them invaluable. They also run competitions….

SET YOURSELF A CHALLENGE
Enter at least one magazine competition a month. It will give you discipline and help you to think about new subjects. If you win, that’s a bonus!

PUSH YOURSELF
This November, enter the National Novel Writing Month.For details, visit the Nanowrimo website.

KEEP A SEASON DIARY
Note down descriptions of places you know and visit during the year. Include the colour of the leaves; the different blues in the sky; the feeling of waves on your legs as you go into the cold water; the smell of salt air. All this will come in useful for your book.

DON’T TELL EVERYONE YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK
If they do find out, keep the plot to yourself. Talking about it can take away the urge to write it.

NOW JUST DO IT!
Good luck – and let me know how you get on.

To find out more about Sophie King and her books, visit the Sophie King website.

Erin Knightley’s Top 10 Tips for Historical Romance writers!

Do you think you could be a historical romance writer? Have a story inside you waiting to be put down with quill and ink? Does Colin Firth walking out of the water in history’s first ever recorded wet t-shirt contest inspire you to publish your own dashing duke or rogue?

Well, both us at Entice and the wonderful Erin Knightley think you should do it. And Erin has provided you with some tips for how to begin, how to research and how to stay find your own particular voice. Read on and write on, Enticers!

 

1. Read, read, read! No matter what genre you write in, this is important. Know what’s out there, know the trends, and know the elements that you like and dislike about the genre. And, you know – you get to read, so this is the easiest step of them all 😉

2. Write, write, write! I know, it sounds obvious enough, but a lot of times we can get caught up in the planning and research stages. While those are important, actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is what makes us better. After all – practice makes perfect!

3. Decide what type of historical romance writer you want to be. Do you want to be the type of writer who meticulously recreates the setting one detail at a time (construction of the settee, fabric of the drapes, livery of the servants, etc.)? Do you want to have a historical flavor while focusing on the characters? Do you prefer some anachronistic elements so that modern readers thoroughly relate? None of these are right or wrong – just be sure that you chose your path and do it with purpose! Oh, and if you fudge historical details, I do recommend saying so in the acknowledgements.

4. If at all possible, travel to the places you are writing about. My newest series is set in Bath, a place I had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago. It was so rich in historical elements, I felt as though I could close my eyes and be back in the time Jane Austen called the city home. Best part? If you’re a professional writer, the trip is a tax write-off!

5. Research books are your friends. I have amassed a small personal library filled with books about the Regency era. What they wore, recipes for what they ate, diagrams of the houses they lived in . . . the list goes on!

6. Google Books is also your friend.  By setting the publication dates to a window suitable to your time period (for me I usually go from Jan 1, 1810 through Jan 1, 1830), you can search books written during the era you wish to write in. I’ve been able to read journals of doctors treating the kinds of wounds my hero had in one book, to find a traveler’s perspective of how the city looked at that time, to discover exactly what an archery target would have looked like during a competition in the decade my book was set in—the list goes on and on. That kind of first hand information is priceless!

7. Chocolate.

8. Don’t be afraid to challenge conventions. We may imagine a certain time period with certain givens, but the truth is, human nature has and always will make us unpredictable. Just because they may not have written home about such behaviors doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

9. Embrace your inner historical writer. If you’re not using bluestocking, bloody hell, dicked in the knob, wonton, and on-dit in everyday life, then you’re not doing it right 😉

10. Realize that you are never going to get everything perfect, historically speaking. And even when you do, someone will inevitably think you are wrong anyway. But as far as I’m concerned, a good story trumps all!  Write the story of your heart, write it well, and everything else will fall into place.

 

The Baron Next Door is already out in ebook, but the paperback will grace the bookshelves on the UK on September 30th!

Your writing questions . . . answered!

On Friday we tweeted all the questions you sent the Entice team! Now, we’re giving them to you again but this time with the answers our Editors so kindly provided! See below . . .

1. I don’t like the name of my lead character and I’m struggling to think of a better one. Any tips?

Well, the first question we’d ask is ‘Why don’t you like the name?’ If it doesn’t ring true, that’s one thing; however, if you’re trying to find something ‘interesting’ or ‘romantic’, the readers will generally know.  So be honest to yourself! You might think ‘Bob’ is a real turn-on. Or perhaps ‘Vincent’! Dare we even say ‘Maleficent’? Readers don’t judge that much because they will associate the character’s name with the character’s attitude. If you write ‘Seymour’ as a bad-ass, the name becomes it.

2. Roughly how many words should a chapter be?

There is no chapter max or min. We have some chapters that are one page and some that are one third of the book! Instead of aiming for length, try thinking of giving your readers structure.

3. Does my book have to have a title, or do you do that?

Both! It depends how good your title is! Most books come to us with a title already and sometimes we change it, according to the current market or other books on our list . Sometimes we don’t. We would always recommend not to get too attached, but if you make a good case for it there’s a good chance it’ll stick.

4. If my hero is a bad boy, how do I ensure that he’s still appealing, both to the reader and the heroine?

This is definitely debatable, but most of the time we would say yes. You need your character to be a bad-boy, not a ‘bad guy’. This does not mean your man doesn’t have faults. He could have loads of them and at the end of the day be completely beyond redemption. However, the readers need to understand why he became that way or why he will never change. They don’t need to forgive him, but they need to understand.

5. Does there have to be a definitive romantic moment in the first two chapters? Or is bubbling sensual tension between hero and heroine enough?

Um, have you read Pride and Prejudice? The sexual tension is sometimes better!!

6. Help! I’ve hit a  writing block! Any advice?

Loads. Read Grace’s piece on writing blocks HERE.

7. Should I leave the reader with a dramatic moment at the end of chapter two so that they are hungry for more?

Again, this is debatable. I (Caroline) personally LOVE a cliff-hanger. Some readers hate being left hanging. But there is no reason why it would be chapter two as opposed to any other chapter. If your book is a series and you intend to pick up where you left off in the story, perhaps try the last chapter. But for the purposes of the competition, there is no need for us.

8. How important is character interaction and dialogue? I’ve heard about show, not tell, and I want to make sure I don’t fall into the telling trap!

A good writer is able to balance both show and tell. Characters can show their wit and courage through words, not necessarily heroic acts of valor. But at the same time, we don’t want to know what our hero ate for breakfast every day.