Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
BN Editor
BookClubEditor
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Questions for Leigh

Do you have a question for Leigh, not related to any of the discussion topics or writing exercises? Reply to this message to start the conversation!
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Leigh

A Point of View Question.

Hi Leigh, thanks so much for your help here, it's a real priviledge to be able to ask you things. I'm just a little muddled by POV, I see in lots of Mills & Boon novels pov seems to change really quickly with some authors. I really like that and have no problem following it. But sometimes we're told it's not on and a major fault. I don't think the following exerpt of my writing is the best example, but is the pov change here a problem?

This is only a first draft, what seems to be happening to my writing at the moment is that I sketch out the scenes badly, then rework them on later edits.

Do you think it's going to cause me problems?

Thanks so much, Lynne.

PS. do lay in with crits - I've learnt loads from people who are most straight and I really appreciate that!



‘I really don’t want to feel I have any obligations to anyone,’ she explained her muscles tensing as her body was aware of his closeness to her, ‘I like just a simple snack when I come in and I usually eat alone. I do most of my eating at lunchtime. I’ve got work to do tonight anyway.’
‘There’s no obligations real or implied,’ he stated, accepting her rebuff lightly and reaching to put his pots on top of the cupboards, ‘I like cooking and cook most nights just for relaxation. I’m doing a Moroccan lamb casserole tonight. It has all the aromatic ingredients, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, but none of the hot spices. If the smell tempts you you’re welcome to change your mind.’
It sounded like a lovely meal, but to Livvy the risk of feeling obliged to anyone - him especially, was more than she could bear. ‘That’s good to hear,’ she replied politely, ‘but I think I’ll give it a miss.’
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Point of View

Lynne, you're not the only one who has trouble with POV -- so just as soon as we've finished the basics about romance, characters, and conflict, we'll take up point of view in detail.

However, here's a quick preview.

The standard wisdom in writing fiction (all sorts of fiction) is to stick to one point of view per scene. In short, that means we get inside the head of only one character in any given scene. Romance has veered away from that standard and allows the author to shift back and forth between characters within a scene, but just because it's being done doesn't mean that head-hopping is a good idea.

In our discussion thread we'll talk about the rules of POV, with examples of each of the different kinds/styles. ("What IS third person omniscient really, and how does it differ from third person detached?" -- fun questions like that.) We'll look at how to handle POV, why misusing it often destroys suspense, and how we can use POV to our advantage.

The current plan is to spend a couple of weeks concentrating on each thread, so somewhere around the middle of March we'll be getting into POV.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Logistics question

I am not sure who to address this odd question to, but here goes- What are people writing their exercises on? I've been using my Word Document program, then cutting and pasting. I tried Notepad, but it had no spell check. When I did the cut and paste thing, my font looked small and the spacing was off. I was afraid it I tried doing it directly on this board, I might time out- especially if I edited at all. And if we are using Word or some other program, does font size and paragraph style etc. transfer over? Or do I need to put in some HTLM prompts?





If this is posted in the wrong place, please let me know. TIA
Frequent Contributor
ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Logistics question

I always work in Word or AppleWorks and then cut and paste, but I have to do some mop up afterward. I'd be afraid to type directly into the message. No one would be able to decipher it for the typos!
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Logistics question

I think others will probably offer suggestions, based on what has worked for them -- and I'm sure there are lots of ways to transfer material onto the boards.

I use either Word or WordPerfect and just copy and paste -- the formatting transfers well with no special mopping up.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Logistics question

Thanks Leigh, that's really useful to know. I've been using Word and cutting and pasting too, it's been working fine for me,
Lynne.
Frequent Contributor
Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Leigh

How do I add the elements of suspense to my story which mainly revolves around the romance between the hero and heroine? Are there guidelines for writing romantic suspense? Will we touch on them in this class? Are there any good books you would recommend?

Vicky
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Adding Suspense

Oh, good question, Vicky, about adding suspense to your writing.

There are really two different things we think of when we talk about suspense. One is the kind we find in a mystery or thriller where we're sitting on the edge of the chair because the heroine's in danger.

The other kind isn't as exciting -- it probably doesn't get your heart pounding -- but it's absolutely necessary in every good story, to keep the reader turning pages. This kind of suspense is created when the reader doesn't know what's going to happen next.

Actually, the bottom line is that both kinds of suspense are built of the same thing -- the reader not knowing what will happen next. Whether that's not knowing what the hero will say when teh heroine challenges him, or not knowing whether the hero will be there to catch the heroine when she jumps out of the hot air balloon to get away from the villain, the common thread is that the reader doesn't know what's coming next.

All that is a long-winded way to get to a simple concept -- and one that a lot of new writers miss. DON'T START BY TELLING YOUR READER THE RESULT. Just tell what happens, in order. Don't summarize, don't start with the ending, don't take off the pressure before you even start building it.

"It took forever for her heart to stop pounding. She'd turned just in time to see the car skidding toward her..."

Okay, that's a cheesy example, but in the first sentence I've told you the heroine's OK. Only then do I get around to telling you what put her in danger -- but it's hard to get upset about her being in danger, because you already know she ends up safe -- right?

To build the suspense, let's have her turn around, see the car, freeze, see a flash of movement from the corner of her eye, feel the brush of cold metal against her arm, get the wind knocked out of her as she collides with the ground, then realize she's been tackled and pushed out of the way.

See the difference?

Okay, I'll put "suspense" on the list of topics we'll tackle in depth as the discussion continues. At that point we'll do an exercise, too.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Adding Suspense

That was really interesting Leigh. When I started writing fiction I used to tell the whole story almost on the first page! I've got better now but your example really helps me see how to activly use suspense in the tale.

Lynne.
Contributor
Brandy
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎01-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re:Research

Leigh,

Hello. I'm so glad that you are doing this class. I'm writing a story based where a young woman gets arrested and the Sheriff is determined to prove her innocence. My question is how do I find out how a court case is handled and what the terms mean. TIA

Brandy
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Re:Research

Hi, Brandy -- Researching how the authorities investigate a case, and the court procedure involved in prosecuting it, will be very important in the story you're considering. Especially because one of your characters -- the sheriff -- is a professional, you'll need a good grasp of how things work. Everything your hero thinks and does will have to reflect how a professional would think and act. Even if he doesn't follow procedure, he will know the proper procedure, and that will show up in what he does -- even in how he breaks the rules.

(If your hero was a layman -- a teacher or a bank teller or a businessman who got involved because he cared about the heroine, your job would be marginally easier because not every thought that went through his head would have to reflect how a sheriff would think.)

You can start your research by reading real life cases -- look for a case similar to yours so you can adapt some circumstances. If it's happened to real people, then it's generally safe to have it happen to your characters. (I'm not suggesting you follow all the circumstances of the case, but using your imagination to embellish real stuff makes the result more plausible than if you make it all up from scratch.) Also, try to find a biography or autobiography of a law enforcement professional, to get accustomed to how they think.

After you've got your basic circumstances in mind, it's time to make contact with real-life professionals. If you call the local police or sheriff's office and ask for their public relations officer, then explain that you're writing a novel and want to be sure that you portray the law enforcement professionals accurately, you'll probably get a good response. It helps if you have a reference -- someone they respect, as it will make them be less likely to treat you like a nutcase.

Be as flexible as you can -- fitting your schedule to theirs. It never hurts to offer to buy lunch, or bake a pie. And if you have a well-organized list of questions -- "What if she..." and "How can I make (this) happen?" and "How would you..." and "What would you do next?" -- most people will get intrigued and help as much as they can.

Good luck!

Happy writing,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Upcoming CHASE THE DREAM Contest

Hi, all --

I'm pleased to announce a new contest that I'll be co-sponsoring starting in mid-March. A former student of mine (and now a published author herself) Rachelle Chase and I will be launching the second annual Chase the Dream contest.

We'll have more details as time goes on, but in short the contest is open to all writers of romance novels or of novels with a romantic theme. Contestants will send the first 1,000 words of their books; each week Rachelle and I will choose entries, and at the end of the eight-week contest, readers will vote to decide the top prize winners.

There is no charge to enter. We'll post complete rules and details on our websites and in our newsletters as time draws closer for the startup. (To be sure of receiving notification, you can sign up for the contest newsletter at www.rachellechase.com.)

Last year the actual prizes -- though they were quite nice -- were far overshadowed by the fact that every finalist received at least one request from an editor for a full manuscript. Though of course we can't guarantee results like that, we hope to entice both editors and agents to look at all the finalists again this year.

So stay tuned, and start working on that first 1,000 words!

Happy writing,
Leigh
Contributor
Brandy
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎01-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Re:Research

Leigh,

This helped so much. It just happens that my cousin is a deputy in the sheriff's office in my home town. I will also look for those autobiographies. TAL

Brandy
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

cousin in the sheriff's office

What a great resource he can be! And he can vouch for you, so you can talk to anybody else you need to, as well. Very lucky for you --

Best,
Leigh
Contributor
Brandy
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎01-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: cousin in the sheriff's office

Leigh,
Your response to my statement that my cousin will be a great help as a deputy is true, but you assumed the deputy was male. She's the sheriff's sister-in-law. That brings up another question I have: How do we write our characters' jobs without gender bias. For example a female deputy. There aren't a lot of books out there that I know of that have female cops in them.
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: cousin in the sheriff's office

Oops. I stumbled over that tripwire, didn't I?! -- You're so right about gender bias and expectation.

I think the best way to handle this stuff is to bring it out in the open and comment on it within the story. Maybe someone in your book says something insensitive to the female deputy -- a redneck clown says, "Hey, you can pat me down anytime, lady sheriff")-- and she responds calmly with something about her training or job, which gives you a chance to educate the reader a bit.

The key is "a bit", because it's important to remember we're not writing a textbook on law enforcement or on gender equality. But we can strike a small blow for the cause.

A female deputy or other female cop will be an interesting study as a character. She'll still react in some typically feminine ways (for instance, she'll probably try to reach compromise where a male officer might be faster to dictate how things are going down) but her feminine reactions will be colored by her training. So she'll be more wary than the "typical" woman. She'll be more aware of her surroundings, because that's what cops do. She'll sit with her back to a wall and be nervous if she can't -- because that's a cop thing -- even when she's off-duty.

It'll be an interesting mix of characteristics -- but the result will be a fascinating character if you explain to us why she's not entirely reacting either like a "typical" woman or a "typical" cop.

And I do apologize to your cousin for assuming she was a guy!

Best,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Keeping the Conversation Going

Hi, all --

Just a quick note to ask what we can do to keep the conversation strong and lively. We'll be moving on into the next area of discussion the end of this week, and I think perhaps we'll speed up the pace.

What else can we do to keep you coming back and being involved?

Best,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Keeping the Conversation Going

Now that's a good thing - I hadn't wanted to post too much in case of overwhelming the board! I shan't worry about that too much now!

I think you're right Leigh when you say people's job influences their daily life and then the characters we create. I find myself almost always listening and problem solving for practical and famly issues as that's what I'm trained to do, you can't just turn years of practice off. The issue I have is in my medical books how much detail to go into and how much technical stuff to explain. I'm reading a fab medical by Alison Roberts who is an ambulance driver in real life in Australia I think. She describes some medical events and doesn't explain every detail. That's fine by me, if I really want to know I can look it up on the web, but when I write about mental health legislation in my books should I go into more detail?

Also, a bit really relating to my pov question, I wasn't going to ask before we studied it but I'll ask now but do ignore me if it'd be best to wait. My trouble is I keep head hopping within a scene, but then in some of the books the hero is more activly saying aloud the sort of things I've put in his thinking. Is that because the author is using that as a technique to give two points of view?

Should I also be posting more of my own work? What I've got is a long first draft but with lots of rubbish writing, like he said/she said, where I intend to post emotional responses, so I haven't posted it in it's first draft state. Should I be posting more? And how long roughly is a good exerpt?

Lynne.
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

The slow down

I think what might have happened is that many of us, including me, started early, and may have skipped ahead before we realized the general schedule and how the board works. I know in my case, I did a "conflict" thing very early. I am actually working on the next thing (secondary characters) kind of sneakily at work.




Also many people may be shy posting their own full exercise writing. I am sure the question and answer posts (where you reply on the same post and not individually) will get a lot of responses.
Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count
1
Users Online
Currently online: 4 members 281 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: