Gray’s Really Useful Bits
Here’s a short collation of the notes I made over the course of the weekend – these were all the bits that I found relevant to myself (and Sue) rather than an exhaustive collection of every bit of advice, so apologies for the omissions!
• Melanie Hilton explained that, when writing a Historical, she always researches backwards, otherwise she’d never get around to starting the darn thing. Hmm, that sounds very familiar!
• At the Q&A session, I learnt that, if you’re bored with doing revisions, it’ll show. Revisions can become a displacement activity, and it is possible to get obsessed by them. Are you reading this, Sue?! (okay, okay, noted!)
• Melanie Hilton has a great little scheme for writing to deadline: she works out how many writing days she has left, divides her word count by this number and then has a total for each day. Always trying to exceed this total is a good habit, too.
• The main problems that Mills & Boon face are all too familiar themes, as well as stories built around themes that are plot-driven rather than character driven.
• If you have characters acting out of character to make the story work, it shows you don’t really know your characters properly!
• A combination of a strong voice and a fresh take or new twist on a given situation is the key to success – it’s a question of carving out your own unique niche in the market.
• Secondary characters should be used ONLY to show the hero or heroine’s personality.
• Emotional, character-driven conflict is the foundation of a satisfying romance. It spawns both tension and excitement.
• Conflict is there to bring human emotion to the fore.
• Romance novels should contain ups and downs, highs and lows, stormy weather and sunny days (not necessarily in that order!).
• Always bring variety to the table.
• Start off by thinking of two really interesting characters, the rest follows from there.
• ‘The Mysterious Miss M’ by Diane Gaston is a great example of a Historical romance that really works.
• Stretch your imagination/stay true to the genre/give your characters a hell of a journey/show them growing and changing/make fantasy out of reality.
• Be in the movie of your book.
• Readers skip too much description.
• Use concrete detail and make it vivid!
And that’s it! Hope it all helps.
Thanks again to those at the conference, without whom this rather exhaustive account would never have been possible!
I'd also like to add my thanks to Gray's with the addition of thanking HIM for sharing his experiences of our first RNA conference.
My experience wouldn't have been anywhere near as fantastic if it hadn't been for Gray being by my side. Thank you so much hun - we make a fab team! :D xxxxx
Catch up on earlier RNA Conference posts here: