The twenty-sixth episode of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released on 14th February 2011 and the content has never been released other than website links (on my website http://www.morgenbailey.com) so I hope you find this information useful. In the first twenty-five episodes (see https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast for details), I covered ‘show not tell’, the five senses, repetition, points of view, tenses, dialogue, characters, crime, poetry, short stories, novels, writing for children, scriptwriting, comedy, romance and chick lit, erotica, ‘writing rules’, historical & the classics, name & characters, Christmas, opportunities, songwriting, reading, auto/biographies, computer tips (parts 1&2) and competitions & submissions. This episode had a focus, not surprisingly being 14th Feb, on romance.
Hints & tips
Most stories have an element of romance in them, even the likes of Matrix etc. so even if you’re not planning on being the next Barbara Cartland, there may be something here of use/interest.
- Romantic Novelists Association (www.rna-uk.org) award winning novelist Phillipa Ashley suggests that you: plan your book first; don’t try to copy anyone else – publishers want your voice and personality on the page; everyone knows how a romantic novel will end so keep the reader in the dark about some aspect of the story to keep them turning the pages; don’t be a wimp when writing from the male viewpoint, be honest about how he is reacting to the heroine so that he doesn’t appear as a woman in a man’s clothes; check other romance writers’ websites for writing tips. I’ve found a few: www.kateallan.com/55138.html, www.lizfielding.com/aboutwriting.html, http://louisearmstrongwrites.blogspot.com, http://phillipa-ashley.com/faq, www.lynnebarrett-lee.com/pages.asp?id=want_to_write and www.katetremayne.com/tips.htm but there are many more.
- I’ve mentioned the Romance Novelists’ Association before. They run a New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) where unpublished authors may join the RNA but places are limited and have already gone for 2011 but take a look at their website (http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/join/new_writers_scheme)
- Most chick lit novels will have a romance at some stage. They are effectively boy meets girl (obviously with some conflict) and humour also plays a huge part of chick lit. Aimed at 20something to 40something, Wikipedia’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_lit) page describes chick lit as “genre fiction within women’s fiction which addresses issues of modern women often humorously and light-heartedly”. It does however go on to say “is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because in Chick lit the heroine’s relationship with her family or friends may be just as important as her romantic relationships.”.
- http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article1292046.ece is a great Times article, and with headings of ‘What is chick lit?’, ‘Creating your main character’, ‘Like you but funnier’, ‘Listen to your character’, ‘to plan or not to plan’, ‘the character sketch’, ‘the character arc’, ‘word choice’, ‘don’t overwrite’, ‘beware redundancy’, ‘dialogue’, ‘description’ and ‘tips from stars of the genre’, it’s a valuable read for writers of any genre.
- http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article3246700.ece is another Times article; this time Melissa Katsoulis learns to write a Mills & Boon novel.
- Historical romance is incredibly popular. One of the Mills & Boon series is Historical Romance and their www.millsandboon.co.uk/historical-romance.htm page explains that “Historical Romances promise the reader richly textured, emotionally intense stories set in widely diverse historical time periods, from ancient civilizations up to and including the First and Second World Wars. Regency tales remain ever-popular and cover the range from drawing-room antics which scandalise the tone, to the salacious underworld inhabited by pickpockets and prostitutes, to the hazardous battlefields of the Peninsular War. Harlequin Mills and Boon publish historical romance with levels of drama and fantasy which are unsurpassed. Our wildly rich and vivid romances can’t help but capture our readers’ imagination with their passion and adventure. You can enjoy tales from chivalrous knights, roguish rakes to impetuous heiresses and unconventional ladies. With historical romance books that have such a wide selection of entertaining characters and plotlines you will lose yourself in the world of days gone by! Harlequin Mills & Boon’s historical romance collection is distributed throughout the world and across every continent. The Harlequin brand is a house hold name throughout Europe, The Americas, Australia, the Middle East, Japan and China. Our unique brand of historical romance books are currently translated into 23 languages and sold in various formats through over 100 international markets. Due to our hard work and commitment to quality historical romance, Harlequin Mills and Boon has become the world’s most prolific publisher of historical romance and adult romantic fiction”. So, there’s plenty of opportunity should you be interested in writing this genre.
- Wikipedia’s main historical fiction page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_fiction) explains that historical fiction is a sub-genre of fiction that often portrays fictional accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, nominally attempt to capture the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity. Historical fiction is found in books, magazines, art, television, movies, games, theatre, and other media. The page continues under headings of definition, critical reception, literature/authors, media & culture/film & television, references and external links. Authors listed include Jean M Auel, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell (no relation to American crime writer Patricia Cornwell who was born Patricia Carroll Daniels – and a descendant of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe), Umberto Eco, Ken Follett, CS Forester (of the Hornblower series), Philippa Gregory, Patrick O’Brien, Wilbur Smith, Mark Twain and Julian Barnes (I’m currently listening to his novel ‘Arthur & George’ on audiobook).
- On the other side of the coin there’s paranormal romance. I’d not really heard of it until I stumbled across the American website www.paranormalromance.org. PNR is the official homepage for the ParaNormal Romance Groups designed for lovers of the Paranormal Romance sub-genre. Members meet online via Yahoo Groups and share an interest in science fiction, fantasy, and romantic fiction with paranormal elements, including time travel, futuristic, magical, ghost, vampire and shapeshifter themes.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal_romance page explains that “Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of the romance novel. A type of speculative fiction, paranormal romance focuses on romance and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the genres of traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature. Beyond the more prevalent themes involving vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, or time travel, paranormal romances can also include books featuring characters with psychic abilities, like telekinesis or telepathy. Paranormal romance has its roots in Gothic fiction. Its most recent revival has been spurred by turn of the century technology, e.g. the internet and electronic publishing. Paranormal romances are one of the fastest growing trends in the romance genre.”
- Lynne Hackles (www.lynnehackles.com), a writer associated with the National Association of Writers Groups (the NAWG) and writing magazines, has published a book called ‘Handy little book for writers’. It’s £2.99 + 50p P&P from the NAWG. Details of this and her other books can be found at www.lynnehackles.com/books2.htm. An invaluable tip from Lynne is “cross out your first paragraph and then the next one until you reach the beginning of your story.”
- Website www.obooko.com is packed with free books. Unlike obooko’s contemporary offering, most of the books on http://manybooks.net are out of print (the first I downloaded was Carolyn Wells’ ‘The technique of the mystery story’ – their romance section is http://manybooks.net/categories/ROM) but there are thousands rather than dozens of books available. Both websites are free to register so there’s no harm in registering with both. 🙂
- www.chicklit.co.uk/articles/writing_tips.asp is packed with writing tips including ‘how to write a romance novel’ by Penny Jordan and ‘Inspiring sensual writing’ by Deanna Derbyshire.
- http://alexbeecroft.com/freebies has some romance ‘free stuff’ including four short stories to read.
- http://wenlock.blogspot.com is the online blog/journal of Stephen Bowden, “an as yet unpublished writer of regency romps, ventures into the blogosphere”. Other blogs include http://theasylum.wordpress.com, www.stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.com, http://bookwitch.wordpress.com, www.doctorsyntax.net, http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com, http://frisbeewind.blogspot.com, www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog, http://randomjottings.typepad.com, http://kevinfromcanada.wordpress.com, http://meandmybigmouth.typepad.com and www.timescolumns.typepad.com/stothard.
- www.cornflowerbooks.co.uk, recommended by www.bloomsbury.com/WhatsNew, is a lovely site.
- Regardless of the genre you’re writing, if you’re looking for an agent in the US, take a look at http://agentquery.com although there’s more to the site than just agent information. I found the site via http://isbw.murlafferty.com (‘I should be writing’ podcast) which is also packed with info.
Romance competitions & submissions
- www.shortstoryradio.com/short_story_competitions.htm lists details of the Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010. Although it’s finished for this year, you’ve got time to prepare for 2011. J
- People’s Friend love romance but they also take non-fiction. If you’re knowledgeable about a subject that you think they may like, they not only pay for words (£30 per 1000 words – Dec 04; this may well have increased) but also if you have any accompanying photos (c. £25 each+). It may not sound like much but it’s another string to your literary bow and addition to your creative CV. J
- www.eharlequin.com is Mills & Boon’s American ‘Harlequin’ website. If you’re thinking of submitting a romance novel, contact M&B by post (Mills & Boon Ltd, Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1SR) with CV, outline of your story and which imprint it’s targeted to.
- I’ve mentioned the well-known 1993-established Black Lace which publishes erotic fiction “by women for women”. Proposals should consist of a paragraph explaining the novel, a synopsis / chapter breakdown of 1,000 words and c. 10,000 words of the story itself. Inc and SAE if you want your work returned. Postal submissions only to Erotica Editor, Virgin Publishing Ltd, Thames Wharf Studios, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA. See www.blacklace-books.co.uk for more details.
- Finally, www.nanoedmo.net (National Novel Editing Month) is the editing version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Editing Month). The idea is, having spent November writing the novel, you spend the month of March, editing it (if not done so already!).
Ideas and sentence starts
Here I provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts listed on my https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/sentence-starts page; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.
- Re-write a romance story into a drama or vice versa; and/or
- Write a bodice ripping (without too many clichés) scene; and/or
- Write a 60- or 100- word romantic story.
The podcast concluded with Quotes, News & Feedback, On This Day in History and a 60-worder called ‘Diagnosis’: The symptoms were clear. It didn’t look good. She approached the surgery, her heart beating. Could she handle bad news? How long before the inevitable? A month? A week? She turned the front door handle. Fear suffocated her like possessive ivy. Then she saw her doctor husband and his nurse. So it was true. “That’s it! I want a divorce!”
That’s it. Thanks for visiting – a list of the other transcripts and summaries can be found at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast.