Many of the people who read this blog, and who read our novels, are also romance writers. Some Indie, some published traditionally, others still fighting to finish their first draft.I thought would put together some thoughts on how I do it, how I keep my work fresh, and how I fight to make romance come to life on the page.
So I ask the eternal question: How do you write a novel that you, and someday your readers, will love? It’s a tough question, especially in the early days when you’re still fighting just to get the words down on paper, when your characters are beginning to visit you and to take over your life.
Here are five rules I try to keep in mind when I am working on a romance. These five ideas help at every step of the way: first draft, third draft, even after I’ve gotten notes from my editor. These rules keep the work fresh for me even after the sixth draft.
1) Have fun
I know this sounds overly simple. But like so many simple things, it can actually be hard to do. Sometimes when you’re crafting a novel, you get so involved in building your plot and your characters that it starts to feel like work. That’s when it is best to take a break, take a step back, and ask yourself, what do I love about this book?
Joy in the writer= joy in the reader.
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2) Love your characters
Your characters are some the best friends you’ll have as you work on the first draft of this book. When you’re in the trench of writing a novel, it’s just you and them, alone in a room (or at a table in a coffee shop.) No book gets written without your characters agreeing to talk to you. So let them talk, and take notes when they do. Trust yourself. If you can’t trust yourself at first, trust them. They know what they’re doing.
3) Let your characters do what they want
Characters may do things you never expect. Correction: they will always do things you never expect. So let them do those things. Don’t edit them or judge them, at least not at first. Sit back, watch their antics, and keep typing. Their unexpected antics are the gifts our characters give to us. So, when in doubt, refer to the golden rule: if you’re having fun watching what your characters are doing, it’s very likely that your readers will, too.
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4) When in doubt, make their lives hard.
Give your characters obstacles, and watch what they do to climb over them. Then write that down. I love my characters and I hate to watch them suffer. But to make a book good, they have to climb over those mountains to get to the man/woman they love. Build those mountains high.
5) Stay in the chair
Ultimately, you have to stay in the chair. Even on those days when you don’t feel like working. Even on those days when the kids need sixteen things before breakfast, you owe it to yourself and to your work to sit down and write, even if only for ten minutes. Take what time you can. Even if it’s at dawn, or while the laundry is in the washer. Stay in the chair, and don’t give up. Your story, your voice is unique in the world. No one can tell your story but you.