Theory on Thursday with Louisa George

 First Theory on Thursday guest for my new-look blog is debut M&B Medical author Louisa George. I met the lovely Louisa at the cocktail party (I think) at the last RWAus conference and she was as lovely in person as she is in her glamorous author pic 🙂 But even more exciting than author glamour is author wisdom, and Louisa has some very insightful info to share with us today… Thanks for coming Louisa and WELCOME! 

What do You Want from Me?
Ten things I’ve learnt from working with an editor

Hi Rachael! Thanks for inviting me here!

Back in the dark ages when I began writing and amassing rejection letters saying my
category manuscript was not what they wanted I began to ask the question, well what
the heck do they want? No-one could tell me for certain. After a year working with
the best editor in the world and doing a heap of revisions on three manuscripts, I can
tell you what they want. Or at least what I think they want from a category writer.

1. Settings
Wherever you choose to set your story the place should be aspirational- the reader
wants to step inside the heroine’s world. There isn’t a lot of space in a short book to
describe the scenery, so make your words count. My second book, Waking Up with
His Runaway Bride (release July 2012) was originally set in the midst of a raging
bush fire, my heroine’s medical practice was failing, she had no money and was
reeling from her mother’s death. Not a lot there for anyone to want to emulate!

2. Dialogue
Men speak and think differently to women and this should shine through dialogue. I
was asked for flirty and sexy conversation to counterbalance deeper emotional scenes.
We have to see why the heroine is attracted to the hero- and how they fall in love.
Playing and flirting is always a good way of getting the sizzle level higher!

3. Emotional conflict
This is the real doozy and where I kept going wrong. Emotional conflict is NOT
a tragic backstory. Emotional conflict is how the tragic backstory has influenced
a character’s life/thoughts etc. What emotional armour do they use to protect
themselves from hurt? And how is that armour chipped away?

4. Highs as wells as lows
This is a romance, a love affair…there has to be moments of positivity. The reader
doesn’t want to be thrown into a deep depression. If there are fast-paced emotionally
charged scenes, we need slower paced scenes too.

5. Character driven NOT plot driven
My second partial was turned down because the plot was too complicated. There was
a disputed will, an intruder, a fraud, a dead grandmother, the loss of reputation and
cricket match fixing – all in the first four chapters of a medical romance! The plot
needs to be simple but effective, and deeply emotional.

6. A hero we all want to love
Alpha, for sure- but sensitive to a point, capable of love despite the tragedy he’s been
through. A modern day man with flaws- not downright rude or an angry victim. He
can be (emotionally or physically) scarred, yes, but healed…or on the way to being

7. Obvious signs of fighting attraction
Lots of sizzle and chemistry and lots of internal struggle to not act on the attraction!

8. Obvious signs of an emotional journey
We can’t have the hero/heroine suddenly have their internal conflicts resolved on the
last page- we have to see them changing as the story unfolds.

9. Fresh twists
This always has me in a panic! But, in a nutshell, there are no new plots – just new
characters. Your hero and heroine bring their own fresh viewpoints to old storylines.
If you draw your characters in a unique way rather than relying on stereotypes you
breathe new life into an often repeated trope.

10. Politeness and Professionalism
From you! This is a business and you need to show your willingness to learn and
grow as an author. Sometimes it’s frustrating having to wait for long turnaround
times, or deal with more revisions, but bitching about it in a public forum is not

Obviously, there’s heaps more to this so if you have any questions about the
publication journey or revisions, or…anything…then please don’t hesitate to ask!

WOW – that was very useful stuff Louisa. Thanks so much for being so honest. And all you wonderful aspiring writers out there, Louisa has generally offered to answer questions, so… ASK AWAY!!

You can find Louise at her website and on Twitter . Louisa’s debut novel is ONE MONTH TO BECOME A MUM. Check out the fabulous blurb (and to-buy links) below.

Some things in life are worth waiting for…

Jessie Price has lost her only chance at motherhood – it’s a constant
hurt, until she meets sinfully sexy single dad Dr Luke McKenzie
and his gorgeous little girl. Luke’s intoxicating kisses and his
daughter’s adoring hugs have Jessie longing for the impossible. But
she’s a temporary locum, the clock’s ticking – and there’s only a
month to make all her wishes come true…

Available on Amazon and at Mills & Boon.


13 thoughts on “Theory on Thursday with Louisa George

  1. Hi Rachael, Hi Louisa,

    Louisa this is all great stuff and I’m drinking it in, as an aspiring author. I have one question for you. When you’d finally written ‘the book’, the one that took you from unpublished author to published author, did you ‘just know?’ Or did the acceptance come as a surprise?

    • Hi Maria! I submitted the first chapter of the book that I eventually sold as part of the New Voices contest in 2010. I didn’t final, didn’t get in the top 40 call-back list. However, I submitted the same, but well-revised, chapter to an editor who had just rejected a four chapter partial (that I mentioned above) but who asked to look at anything else I had. I continued to write that story and had to revise it four times! Each time I could tell I was getting closer but I knew, also, that at any point the editor could easily have rejected my work. Really, the only point at which I kind of knew was when the editor asked me for my phone number so she could call me. Up until that moment I was a nervous self-doubting wreck!

      • Hi Louisa,

        That is nerve wracking. But worth it in the end I’m sure. Congratulations on selling yet another book. I just heard about it.

        I just found out yesterday that I had a short romance published here in India last month. They didn’t tell me and I even bought the magazine and didn’t see the story because for some reason it didn’t appear in the contents. My daughter was reading my magazines yesterday as a change from studying, next thing I heard her shouting ‘mum, your story’s published here.’ What a shock, although a pleasant one.

        I shall now send them an invoice!

        Congrats again!

  2. Hi Rachel! Yes, we did meet at the cocktail party (I think!!), or was it the Harlequin dinner?- I definitely met you at some point at that fabulous Melbourne conference. LOL on the glamour! I wish!

  3. Thanks for this info, Louisa. Very helpful. I’m going to look at my completed ms and current one through new eyes.
    Smiles, Natalie

  4. Really useful tips, thanks Louisa! I’m currently revising my ms after getting feedback from a publisher, and I’ve learned that writing a story is only a small part of the journey. Rewriting is when the story starts to become a book, and it might take more than one rewrite! 🙂

    • Hi Juliet! Yes- for me, writing a good story is always editing, editing, editing! My first published book was revised four times, my second one twice, my third one, just a few tweaks- so I think I’m finally learning! Good luck with the revisions!

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