Make me write!!

Hi there all you writerly types!

As both a writer, and a writing teacher, I encounter cases of ‘bum glue-itis’ regularly. That, dear people, is the inability to stick one’s bottom to the chair and just write. There’s always other distractions and demands, tasks that seem more achievable and ‘important’ than sitting down to do what we love – writing.

In my teaching gig, students tell me one of the most helpful things about our mentoring relationship is that they’re accountable to deliver material to me and meet their deadlines. So I thought, ‘Why not set up an accountability system that all writers can access?’ My question to you, then, is would you be interested in belonging to a closed Facebook group which exists to make you write? You’ll pay a nominal monthly fee to be a member, and the amount of work you email to me is up to you  – it could be a chapter a month, it could be ten. Your call. Meet your deadline, you get half your money back. Don’t meet it, slap on the wrist for you! (Yes, carrots and sticks do work and have their place).

I’ll also provide you with individual feedback on your submitted work and the FB group would meet live once per month for a general chat with all members about what’s working for them, and how I can assist you to be more productive. Fellow writer, Carla Caruso, will be involved as an experienced published author to provide her expertise also.

This is a thought bubble at the moment, so I’d love to hear from anyone who likes the idea. The purpose is motivation to write, assisting you to be accountable, achieve your goals and to just write!

Over to you…:)

 

 

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Romance writing for men

 

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This post could also be titled “Romance writing for beginners,” or even “Romance according to Disney”. But I’ve targeted you blokes (sorry if I’m being sexist) because I’m tutoring several men in the professional writing stream this year and some have asked me for advice on including a romance plot in their novels. It seems to me, in general, that men don’t read romance as much as women, so this is a fairly basic overview of the ingredients you need. Its applicable to anyone writing romance or including a romantic subplot in your work. Also, because I have a toddler and our house is an Elsa, Anna, Olaf shrine, I’ve used Frozen as an example (a good thing for those of you who have small children cos you can do your homework and look after them at the same time!) Frozen and Shrek the Third are both awesome examples of a romance subplot in action (warning: this post contains spoilers!)

For a romance, you need:

  1. A reason for the characters to be in each-other’s company
  2. Internal and external conflicts
  3. Chemistry between your characters
  • A reason to be together
  • Let’s look at number one – your characters could work in the same office or, say, on a military mission together. Anything that keeps them together for a good deal of the action of your story. In Frozen, Kristoff and Anna are in each other’s company because Anna needs help getting to the North Mountain to find her sister and Kristoff can help her. What reason do your characters have to remain in each other’s company?
  • External Conflict
  • Internal and external conflicts – yep, you need both. An external conflict preventing two characters from being together might be that they’re married to other people. In Frozen, the external conflict to Hans and Anna getting married is that Elsa won’t give their marriage her blessing. She then “goes all ice crazy” and freezes the kingdom. Anna has to find her to bring her back and unfreeze the kingdom. These are the forces outside of Anna and Hans that prevent them from being together. You’ll need at least one external force that keeps your characters apart for a good deal of the story. If Elsa had given Anna and Hans her blessing, they’d have gotten married and that would be the end of the story. We don’t want that!
  • Internal conflict
  • There can be a myriad of these and it’s best not to fall into cliché and say “they’re afraid of their feelings”. The internal conflict for Anna and Hans once they’re reunited is that Hans doesn’t really love Anna. (And Anna has fallen for another guy, anyway.) Hans has faked it because he wanted to marry into the royal family, and he’s actually a rotter who’d been planning Elsa’s death so he could rule the kingdom. Frozen then has the other romantic subplot— Kristoff and Anna, and this is the real romance of the story. They don’t like each other much as first, but Anna needs Kristoff to help her find her sister. Kristoff doesn’t want to help, but he has no money and Anna has bought him the supplies he needs. Then his sleigh is destroyed and if he doesn’t continue to help her, he won’t get his sleigh replaced. This covers both their “reason to be in each other’s company” and a relationship that goes from “don’t like you much” to “in love”. The internal conflict is the personality clash, and Kristoff’s loner outlook versus Anna’s extreme desire to be loved. The external conflict is that Anna is engaged to Hans and the whole kingdom is frozen.

 

  • Chemistry
  •  As Anna and Kristoff work together to find Elsa, they become closer and it’s apparent through their behaviour towards one another that they’re falling in love. This is the “chemistry” ingredient and is a “show don’t tell” thing. It can be the trickiest part to pull off and takes practice. Look at chemistry between your characters the same way you do all relationships — what makes this particular relationship work? In Frozen, it’s easy to see why everyone loves Anna. She’s cute, but not intimidating beautiful (like Elsa!), she’s a goof, she’s funny, she’s kind and strong. We like Anna. Kristoff, although a bit prickly to start with, is also likeable. He’s down to earth, has a quirky relationship with his reindeer, is the ‘voice of reason’, and does the right thing by Anna when Hans doesn’t. Their banter, their action scenes together, their support of one another all adds up to “chemistry”. As I said, it’s the trickiest bit, but if you focus on creating great characters, the chemistry will flow.
  • Resolution
  • Once all their obstacles are removed (found and saved Elsa, defrosted Anna’s frozen heart, and gotten rid of stinker Hans), Kristoff and Anna can be together. It’s no accident this romance is tied up in the last scene. Try watching Frozen with all this in mind you should be able to:
    • Identify the external and internal conflicts in the romance between Anna & Hans, and in the romance between Anna & Kristoff
    • See why Anna and Kristoff (and even Hans to start with) are such likeable characters. Think of how you can do this with your characters.

Another great one for this exercise is Shrek Forever After. It’s less “romancey” as it’s intended for both boys and girls, and the main plot involves Shrek being dissatisfied with his life and wishing for a simpler time before he was a married father of three (I can relate!) He gets his wish, but at a cost. He does a dodgy deal with Rumplestiltskin and alters reality. If he doesn’t get “love’s true kiss” before the end of the day, he’ll cease to exist. Problem is, in this reality Fiona, his wife, doesn’t know or love him. He has to make her fall in love with him all over again. A good one to watch to see how this is handled in a more “masculine” way.

Let me know if you have any questions and, as I said, this is a basic overview but hope it helps!

Happy writing. 🙂

Grant news- new anthology

If you write, you’ll know it’s not glamorous (many hours alone at a keyboard in isolation while your friends and family are having fun or, better yet, sleeping!) and it’s the little wins that keep you going. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader because, let’s face it, no-one cares more about your work than you do.

So, it’s great to celebrate the “little wins”. Those bits of validation that tell you you’re doing a good job, and to just keep going. This is one of those happy dance,” woot-woot”, moments, so apologies for being self-indulgent, but who else is going to indulge me? I mean, you can if you like…

My virtual writers group, Seasoned with Romance, has been awarded grant funding for our next anthology. We’ve put out two free anthologies of our short stories so far, and now one of Australia’s biggest and best writers’ organisations, Romance Writers of Australia, has recognised the quality of our work with a grant. The money will pay for those professionals who, to date, have donated their services, to get paid. That includes our extremely talented book cover designer, Daniella Caruso (http://carusodaniella.wix.com/illustration), and payment for editing and promo services.

The new anthology, Winter Heat, will still be free for readers and I hope you’ll take this stamp of approval as a sign that it’s worth reading and get yourself a copy when it comes out in June.

Contributors to Summer Daze which is free to download here (http://bit.ly/1pxm5HH) are all wonderful Australian writers and you can learn more about them through their websites:

http://www.carlacaruso.com.au

http://www.lauragreaves.com/

http://georginapenney.com/

https://sarahbell4.wordpress.com/

https://vanessastubbswriter.wordpress.com/about/

 

I’ll keep you updated as the release of Winter Heat nears!