I found the idea for this blog in an email conversation last week. I lost it for a few hours but thankfully it came back. Lets say I want to build a bookshelf. What would I need? Wood, saw horses, nails, glue, a tape measure, a saw, and clamps. Could I do it without any of these things? I might be able to skip the glue if I’m ok with some of the shelves not being perfect. I could do without the saw horses if I want to crawl around on the ground which would make it more difficult. I could go without the clamps if I think I could do some twister moves to hold stuff together. And maybe, if I have half of the nails I need, I could just slap it together and not worry if it’s not the most sturdy bookshelf.
The problem is, I could never slap something together and feel good about it. My personality requires that if I build a bookshelf, I must be able to put it next to anyone else’s bookshelf and it be just as good if not better. I’m not saying this makes my way the right way, it’s just the reality of who I am. So, when I write a book, I have to be able to put it next to other books and feel it holds it’s own. It’s just as good if not better. That means I need the tools required to write a good romance novel. And right now, my writing tool belt is sorely lacking.
Almost a year ago I came up with a reasonably simple love story and created two characters of which I’m quite proud. I started writing, made it seven and a half chapters in and realized there was no story. These two met, they liked each other right away and there was no reason for them NOT to be together. She had some abandonment issues that would need to be worked through and he had a dead fiancé he was still getting over but less than five minutes with the heroine and fiancé girl was long forgotten. In summary, I had no conflict.
Now I’m starting over and realizing the problem is how little I know. Not about my characters or about the action that unfolds throughout the story but about writing itself. I don’t have the tools I need to create a powerfully emotional story that sucks the reader in, makes them laugh, makes them cry and leaves them with a satisfactory sigh. That is what I want to create. I must find the tools.
One of the first stops is the New Jersey writers conference in three weeks. I’ll be attending workshops on topics such as dialogue, making the story stick with the reader, forgetting the rules, creating non-Alpha heroes (perfect for me!) and writing emotional love scenes. I have another conference in November in which I’ll learn more about creating conflict and real characters plus I’m looking into a popular and powerful online course that dives deep into emotion and editing among other things. And I can’t forget the book recommended by Elizabeth Hoyt – How to Write the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I did purchase it but I’m afraid I haven’t found the time to read it!
What about you? How is your tool belt hanging these days? Feeling a bit light? Or perhaps so full you can’t fit anything else. Where do you go to find the tools you need for success. If you have any links or how-to book recommendations, please share.