The following question came to us through our contact page and I thought it would be kind of fun to answer it here.
I recently read several SuperRomance books and simply loved them! I am an aspiring author, serious about making a living through wiriting for Harlequin SuperRonance and am currently in the middle of my first draft for a novel. I was curious how you wonderful ladies learnt how to write so well? What were some of the books you referenced to learn your craft? Or any other methods you may have used? Your advice would be extremely helpful to me. Thanks!
Laura Drake: This will sound like a commercial, but the best thing I ever did for my writing was to take Margie Lawson classes.
Oh, and write. A bunch.
Liz Talley: I’ll second Laura in saying Margie Lawson is a good class to take, but only if basics are in place and you’re ready to think really hard about your writing. I still swear by Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict book. If you don’t have a GMC, you don’t have a story.
1. Read lots of fiction. Study why you like particular books or phrases or stories.
2. Read lots of craft books. I especially like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne.
3. Write lots. Rewrite. Edit. Polish.
4. Reach out for help the way you have! Lots of resources out there for the aspiring writer.
5. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Mary Sullivan: I would have to agree with Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & Conflict and also Self-Editing for Writers by Browne and King. Another book I would add would be Stephen King's On Writing.
My favorite course, hands down, was Laura Baker's Laws of Motion, www.fearlesswriter.com
www.writeruniv.com has excellent courses year-round.
Jennifer Lohmann: This seems trite, but my biggest lesson for writing was to learn to finish the book. I've always read a lot and been interested in why one book worked for me and another didn't. The hardest thing for me to learn was that I had to sit my butt in a chair every day or the book would never get done. That's not craft, though. That was me learning discipline!
Besides Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, I think it's good to brush up on your basics of grammar and punctuation (so that you can break them for the best impact!).
Joan Kilby: I have all of Donald Maass's books. He's very inspiring and really makes you think about your story and your characters.
- I would suggest that anyone targeting any Harlequin line take advantage of the many resources Harlequin has made available - the blogs, the Harlequin.com community, the pitch sessions, the guidelines. There's an immense wealth of resources on that website, all there for free.
- Join RWA and a local and/or online chapter. The amount of experience and knowledge available will boggle the mind.
- I highly recommend Michael Hague's workshops, DVDs, and books. (http://www.storymastery.com/). His whole take on the inner and outer journeys rings very true to me and has helped me immensely.
- Finally, remember that all writers are different. If someone swears by one method or class but it doesn't work for you, all it means is that you need a different approach. Find what works for you and run with it!
Anna Sugden: Definitely everything Kris said! LOVE Michael Hague’s stuff! Plus what everyone else has said about reading – especially the line – and write, write, write!
Many romance authors have writer resources on their websites eg I have handouts from my workshops, so it’s worth checking. I found Lisa Gardner’s site helpful.
Other books I found useful were Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Mary Buckham/Dianna Love’s Break Into Fiction. To get started – Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. The Donald Maas workbook is useful, as is Browne & King’s Self-Editing for Fiction. I know many people love Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, but neither of them did it for me.
Geri Krotow: Everyone has already said what I'd say--but the most important thing about Supers (and a lot of other lines) is that no two voices, no two stories are alike. Find YOUR voice (Barbara Samuel has a wonderful workshop on this), find the stories you have a passion for, and read, read, read. Then write, write, write. And Keep an Open Mind--be willing to revise, revise, revise. Enter the Harlequin contests! I sold my win in the Everlasting Contest way back in 2006.
Also--enjoy the journey.
Rogenna Brewer: I like Swain's Techniques of the Selling writer. Which I first heard about at an Anne Eames workshop (RWA Tape #285 N/A) The Last Techniques I learned Before Selling: Scene and Sequel. To this day I keep my own Swain cheatsheet handy. Jack Bickham Elements of Fiction Writing: Scene and Structure is another good one.
If you would like us to field your writing question, please don't hesitate to contact us. Also, look in the label cloud (in the sidebar) under writing tips.