Over the years, most of my best friends have come from the group known as writers. A large portion of those is Romance Writers. I admire and support these people, not just because a few admire and support me, but because they are funny, creative, emotional, and never stop learning. The more well known the author, the more they also never stop sharing.
I wish I could say Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips were on my list of best friends. I had a blast listening to their workshop at Romance Writers of American National Convention this past July. I also want to award them my personal vote for best title for a workshop: Susan & Jayne’s Excellent Adventure: In Which We Tell You 10 Things We Learned the Hard Way so You Won’t Have to Repeat the Same Learning Curve.
They started with one of the best gems of advice I have ever heard. (1) Don’t let your fear paralyze you. For most writers, writing is the process of living in fear. But we keep going. We do it anyway. Your fictional landscape is important. (2) Your core story is Relationship and Conflict. Start with that and add the layers.
(3) You have probably seen or read or studied Archetypes. Understand that you are working with one as your hero. Be he Cowboy, Soldier, Quarterback, Billionaire, Detective, or Fireman, he’s going to take from one or more of the archetypes. (4) He and your female main character are your tree trunks. You add the branches, then the leaves. Make them larger than life, with a touch of crazy pants.
(5) Remember, a writer can fix a bad page. No one can fix a blank page. Put anything down, don’t run away screaming. Jump ahead, write the next scene. Write the ending. (6) Another way to keep writing is to keep a journal. Talk to yourself about your plot. Don’t know where I’m going. What if — Oh, wait! This is active brainstorming. Maybe write, just for your eyes, from the villain’s point of view.
(7) Accountability is vital to writers. There’s no boss over your shoulder saying keep writing. Jayne uses a timer set for 3 hours. Not only does it keep her focused, she knows when her work day is done.
(8) Avoid procrastination. Don’t answer email or post fun things on Facebook or pin characters and places when you should be writing. Make a separate time for that. The act of creativity begets creativity. Let it happen. It doesn’t get any easier. Susan has encountered the same roadblocks over and over in a long career. Just keep going.
(9) You must maintain a strong work ethic and try not to make enemies. Both recommend a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace. There you will find who represents whom.
(10) As to back story, use no more than a couple lines of dialogue to lay out the past. No more! You will lose your readers.
I get the feeling these two best friends could keep going all day. But sadly the time came to an end. In closing, they said, Don’t wallow in choices for a story. Remember, sharks always move forward. Thanks for reading! I’ll be back on Sunday.