One of my favourite category romance books of ALL TIME (yes, it’s THAT good) is Liz Fielding’s The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella (In fact, I’m going to reread it really soon). Since reading that book, I do my utmost to keep up to date with what Liz puts out and I’m never disappointed. So, I was VERY excited to hear that Liz had put out a romance writing craft book and even MORE excited when she agreed to share some with my Theory on Thursday readers. So, without further ado (and no more fan girl moments) here it is…
Begin your story at a moment of crisis, a point intime when your character’s life is about to change for ever.
— Mollie Blake’s WritingWorkshop Notes from Secret Wedding by Liz Fielding
Mollie Blake is a woman who knows what’sshe’s talking about. Well, obviously, I created her back in 2000 for mynovella,The Secret Wedding and she’s come with me on theadventure of writing my Little Book of Writing Romance.
This little book is aprimer, an entry level aid for the writer who has a story to tell, but isstruggling to get it out of her head and onto paper. To quote the theme songfor the movie of Erich Segal’s bestselling book Love Story, “Howdo you begin…?”
I know how that feels, I’vebeen there and this book is the distillation of the things I’ve learned overtwenty years as a published author.
It’s the book I wish I’dhad when I was starting out.
My purpose has been toexplain, in the simplest terms, and using examples from my own work, how tomake the transition from the story in your head to words on paper. How to writea compelling opening — I have deconstructed an opening scene — deepen conflict,write honest emotion, hopefully with a touch of humour to leaven the mix. Howto write crisp dialogue, develop the romance, add a little sizzle.
The primary purpose of aromance novel is to elicit a positive emotional experience for the reader. Makeher smile, make her cry, make her sigh with pleasure. To put it in a nut shell,to give her a good time.
To achieve that, you mustgive her characters she will care about, with whom she will be happy to sharehours of her precious time, characters who, no matter what their faults may be— and perfection is so dull — are likeable.
To write their story youwill have to know your characters intimately. For this, you need to do morethan fill out a character worksheet with all their physical characteristics,their birth sign, their place in the family hierarchy, the names of theirsiblings.
Of course you have to knowwhat colour eyes and hair your hero has, how tall he is, how old he is — dittoyour heroine — before you begin. Making a note of these details and pinning itup so that you can check them when you’re in full flow a hundred pages intoyour manuscript is a sensible precaution. (You may think you couldn’t possiblyforget these vital statistics but you will.)
These are, however, no morethan the basics.
To come alive on the page,your hero and heroine must be more than two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs thatyou move around the stage. You should not be asking yourself “what can I makethem do next”. If your characters are blood-and-bones, heart-and-soul real, youwill know what they would do, just as you instinctively know what someone closeto you would do in any given circumstance.
You may hear authorstalking about characters who “take over” the story. That is not because theauthor is not in control of her characters, but because she has createdthree-dimensional, living, breathing people, men and women she knows so wellthat her writing brain is flying ahead of her fingers on the keyboard.
To truly know yourcharacters you must understand not just what they look like, where they went toschool, what they do for a living but see them living in their own world,having a life before you write Chapter One.
Download my book and I’llshow you how I do that 🙂
Liz Fielding is the author of more than sixtyromances and has been nominated seven times for the Romance Writers’ of AmericaRITA® award, winning twice with The Best Man & the Bridesmaid and TheMarriage Miracle. She has also been nominated three times for the UK’sRomantic Novelists’ Association “Romance Prize”, winning with A Family of HisOwn.
She has also received a Lifetime Achievement Awardfrom Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine
I’ve got this book on my Kindle and I cannot WAIT to get stuck in 🙂 Has anyone else read it yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts?!