Stella’s Writing Journey

Upcoming Famous & Fabulous Romance Writers Blog#2 Constructive Criticism

The Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers are five aspiring and emerging RWA members. Like many new RWA members, we worry about our skills, we have pride in our growing accomplishments, and we are nervous about whether we can ‘make it’. In 2018, we are guest bloggers for Romance Writers of Australia, where we will be sharing our journey from newbies to (fingers crossed, hearts wildly beating) accomplished writers. Read our February 2018 blog post here all about constructive criticism We connected at the RWA Conference 2017 in Brisbane, and formed a support group that has become an important step in our writing journey. We can be found on Facebook (click on our names below). We’d love you to come visit. Jayne Kingsley Marianne Bayliss Megan Mayfair Lou Greene Stella Quinn

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Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers

The Upcoming Famous and Fabulous Romance Writers are five aspiring and emerging RWA members. Like many new RWA members, we worry about our skills, we have pride in our growing accomplishments, and we are nervous about whether we can ‘make it’. In 2018, we are guest bloggers for Romance Writers of Australia, where we will be sharing our journey from newbies to (fingers crossed, hearts wildly beating) accomplished writers. Read our January 2018 blog post here We connected at the RWA Conference 2017 in Brisbane, and formed a support group that has become an important step in our writing journey. We can be found on Facebook (click on our names below). We’d love you to come visit. Jayne Kingsley Marianne Bayliss Megan Mayfair Lou Greene Stella Quinn  

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Point of view: getting up close and personal

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a course hosted by the Queensland Writers Centre and beloved Australian romance author Anna Campbell, which covered the building blocks of romance fiction. I would thoroughly recommend taking this course if it is offered again. One of the exercises we played with was to re-write a lacklustre piece of prose into one which embraced the concept of “deep” point of view. (I have read some articles on Anna’s website, and she has an excellent article on point of view, which can be found here.) THE ORIGINAL PASSAGE BEFORE THE RE-WRITE Lord Julian Monteith saw the Earl of Monteith’s daughter as soon as he entered the crowded ballroom. She was hard to miss. Lady Eleanor was tall and blonde and very pretty. He heard the orchestra strike up a waltz. He would be able to touch her. He liked to touch her. She had beautiful skin. He remembered what she’d looked like when she took her clothes off at his lodgings that afternoon. He also remembered what had happened afterwards. Damn shame she was going to marry another man on Saturday. MY RE-WRITE She was here. Lord Julian Somerville paused on the threshold of the ballroom, heedless of the crowd who milled about him, the butler who announced his name. She stood to the side of the dance floor, the skin of her throat and décolletage glowing in the golden light from the candelabra—skin that just this afternoon had glowed with passion for him, and him alone. The orchestra struck up a waltz, and he stalked towards her. This dance was his. To hell with her rules. To hell with the man she had promised to marry. Lady Eleanor was his. CONCLUSION? This made me think a regency romance trilogy might be my next…

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Stressed out about your synopsis?

You’re not alone. Everyone hates writing a synopsis. But, guess what? There’s help available. If you’re a member of the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA), they hold lessons (called OWLS) periodically to walk you through the process. You can find their website here. Join your local writer’s centre. I’m a member of the Queensland Writer’s Centre, and they have a great resource available titled Synopsis Advice From QWC. You can find their website here. You can read below for my expert (!) advice. Full disclosure: in a recent competition held by RWA, a synopsis of mine came 6th … which isn’t quite first (*gnashes teeth) but it means I can pull one together when I need to.   Strategies for building your synopsis. Imagine there’s a long sandy beach spread out in the distance before you. A couple are wandering along in the same direction, occasionally holding hands, so that where one goes, the other must go too. The tall one meanders about, changes directions a few times, laughs and cries and tears their hair a bit then calms down. The short one walks in a straight line, intent on reaching the end of the beach, patiently keeping tabs on the taller one’s progress. One of these people represents your book plan – you know, that thing you write before you start your book, full of hopes and dreams and half-thought through strategies to lure in your reader – and yes, it’s the tall person in our analogy. The short person represents your synopsis. And the purpose of this analogy? To show you what the synopsis needs to be when you have finished writing it: a short, taut, purposeful document that knows where your story is going, and says so. The synopsis doesn’t wander about – it gets to the…

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Planning a series?

I recently attended a session  at a conference run by best-selling Australian romantic suspense author Chris Taylor, whose website can be found here. Chris is the author of 24 books which span three series. She spoke about discipline: She writes 5000 words a day!!! This translates to 75-80000 words every two months, which is a book Why a series? Series sell (she mentioned the binge-watching habits of Netflix viewers, which I can personally attest to. The Expanse, anyone? Blacklist? Outlander? So many happy hours …) What makes a successful series? She says each book must have its own problem and resolution She likes her readers to be able to read her books out of order and still “get” the story Her series are connected by something, and that something can be quite loose, eg a family group, a location such as a hospital She recommends not worrying about pleasing all readers – just write for the ones in your target audience; she uses Facebook to find her target audience Characters in a series must be rounded, decent, with enough issues going on so you still have things to write about them several novels later Chris says boxed sets of three work really well on Amazon etc as a marketing plan, so an ideal series to her is 9 books, which can then be sold in 3 blocks of 3 come sale time Planning a series PLOT: Chris recommends including small complications in a current novel that can be resolved in a later novel, in addition to the major complication which is to occur in the current novel PROTAGONIST / ANTAGONIST: Chris referred to Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino – from the Patricia Cornwall novels – there is enough ‘meat’ to their relationship to sustain narrative interest over many novels. The…

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Five-minute pitch – the panic before the first pitch ever

So I attended the annual conference of the Romance Writers of Australia this weekend in Brisbane (RWA2017) and all the attendees were eligible to make a five minute pitch to a selection of the editors in attendance. The editors came from Australia and the US, and represented both traditional and digital publishing houses. The online RWA forum gave some tips and tricks, but in my case this is how my first pitch went:   Preparation  I researched what each editor was looking for: category romance (and which ‘ïmprint’) and chose editors who matched my current work-in-progress. I wrote a one-line pitch and memorised it I wrote a two-minute-to-say-out-loud short synopsis (and tried to memorise it!) which started with a sentence about the heroine and a sentence about the hero I wrote a bio about myself which listed recent feedback I have received, competitions I have done well in etc     The waiting room I no longer need to imagine what it feels like when I write that a heroine has ‘a racing heart’. My blood was pounding around my torso with such vehemence it hurt. My hands were sweaty. I cracked brainless jokes to other pitchees in the waiting room. I was a mess. The bell rang and a sweet-as-pie husband of one of the conference committee called my name. I was up! The pitch Like getting a vaccination, the waiting was worse than the procedure. We shook hands. We swapped name. I said my title, my category, my word count. She said, ‘tell me about it.’ I launched into my short synopsis. The editor then asked me a couple of questions: how did it end, and why did I choose her to pitch to (luckily I had my notes about what she had been looking for from my…

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Critique Partner

Now that I have a critique partner I am beginning to understand how people lose their hearts (and bank balances) to strangers online. It is weirdly cathartic having an online friend that you’ve never met. We met through a peer-mentoring programme set up by the Romance Writers’ of Australia, and at first had fake names issued randomly by the hosting site, but have since revealed our real names. Our arrangement (subject to live intervening) is to swap a chapter on the first of each month. Five months in – five chapters done. It is certainly motivational.

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