It's a pleasure to have fellow Crimson Romance author, Selena Laurence, at my blog today. She shares some great advice for writer's like me. Hope you enjoy!
Writing Craft for the Craftless
My critique partner, Jamie, loves craft. The craft of writing, that is. She has books and articles and reams of materials on craft. She’s studied it for years. She’s looks at charts and graphs and has giant white boards with post-it notes in all different colors.
The only craft book I own is one she gave me. I think I opened up the first page once, but then I got hungry and put it back on the shelf. When I look at Jamie’s fancy interpretations of where a story is supposed to climax, or hear her talk about “filter words” and “dark moments” my head spins and my eyes glaze over. So, how the hell do you write and publish a book when you have no interest in learning how to write one?
First and foremost? You read. And I mean LOTS. You have to read and read and read if you want the rhythm and logic of how a story is constructed to penetrate your craft-free head. Luckily for me that’s a simple task. I love to read beyond all normal human reason. I own over 700 romance novels. So, yeah, I’ve incorporated some basic story structure into my subconscious.
The next step is a little more intentional. Look at several authors who write what you want to write, and examine the structure of their stories. Most of the time you’ll probably notice that things consistently happen at the 25%, 50%, and 75% marks in their books (ebooks are great for tracking those percentage marker in books). If you’re a Romance writer like me, you’ll probably start to see that sex happens at 50%. Yay, we love that midpoint, don’t we? Once you realize that there are markers for action it’ll help you decide whether to add that extra scene before they make-up or break-up or get down and dirty, because you’ll be able to see what needs to happen at those markers.
Next, put your work on display. Yeah, I know, we all hate that, but if you’re craftless, it’s even more important to get feedback. Get a critique partner, beta readers, and a good solid revision process. I just naturally fast-draft my work, so after phase one I’m left with the shell of a story and have to go back through it and add layers of things like sensory details, smooth out transitions and fix details that need research. I show my critique partner some portion of the manuscript at this point, then once the second layer is applied I go through a formal revision process, checking for certain mistakes I know I make, fixing those words I repeat over and over, adding in more sensory details if I need to, etc. Then, the full manuscript is off to my beta readers and my critique partner.
This is the point at which my critique partner calls me “90% girl” because I don’t want to do the really hard last 10%. I don’t like craft because I don’t like details. They give me a headache, and they’re hard (do you hear the whining here?). But, they have to be done, so after I hear back from everyone who’s seen it, I revise AGAIN!
At the end of all of this I have what I think is a pretty good book. I can’t put the plot points on a chart for you (although Jamie could), or graph out where the dark moment occurs in relationship to the word count, but people say I’ve told a good story, and in the end that’s what matters to me. And, I’ve saved myself from the fate worse than death, learning about craft. Craft is after all for breweries not books.
Selena Laurence loves to write romantic stuff that helps you get away. Life can be a grind, and things like jobs and kids and dirty dishes make Jill a dull girl – and Selena too. So, she writes about hot guys and smart girls and exotic locales to give us all an “Escape from the Everyday.” Selena lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, children and a very spoiled Goldendoodle. Contact her at: www.selenalaurence.com
Selena's next book is Hidden, releasing later this year.
Hidden - A New Adult Romance
Nick is hiding his mistakes. Lyndsey is hiding her past. When they meet, the only thing they can't hide are their hearts. Struggling with issues of trust, family, grief, and love, can a young soldier who's witnessed the worst, and a young woman who's lived with the worst, save each other? Catch a ride on a wave of hot, Hawaiian heartbreak with Nick and Lyndsey. Catch what's Hidden.