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dixielandgrl
Posts: 285
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Staying focused

I've been using a simple chapter list and describing each scene by scene to keep track of where they are in the individual chapter. It's also helping me plot the story and flag things that shouldn't be in chapter 2 or 3 or whichever.

I am sure a bunch of people can make suggestions on this question.
"If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armor should not be:" Thomas Campion
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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Staying focused

I used to have that problem a lot and when I did (pre computer) I would write each scene on its own peice (or peices) of paper and then I would move then around as needed in a binder. Now, with the advent of computers, I just put each scene into its own little file and number them so when I open the file they're listed in order. Makes word counts really difficult though.

The real problem with working that way for me is that I'll write a scene and mention something that happened earlier. Then later on I'll decide I really want to see what was mentioned played out so I'll write it and the scene that follows now has this really awkward discription of something that just happened. You know, I've got this great scene of Suzy Q going to the store and having her car die in the parking lot because she left her lights on and the hero jumps her car. Then in the next scene we have the h/h talking, 'remember yesterday when I ran into you at the store and helped you charge the battery in your car because you left the lights on?' Well, duh, doesn't everybody? LOL.

But I'm not Leigh. Leigh probably has a perfect solution, don't you Leigh? :smileyvery-happy:
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Staying focused

I do what Dixilelandgirl does, I have a rough note of scenes and where they fit. In the text I label each scene in capitals then if I want to move it I can find it easily, so I just change the paper copy of my scenes then.
Christine, you remind me of a photo I saw of Wil Self's study, it's a tiny room and all the walls were covered with yellow sticky notes to himself about his writing!
Will Self is a bit pretentious though, a bit of a smarty pants I reckon.
Lynne.
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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New members

I put a link onto our Romantic Novelists Association email list a couple of days ago telling people how good this is and inviting people over, with the link. Have we had any more traffic? I don't notice any.
Lynne.
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Organizing scenes

Well, I wouldn't call it a perfect solution, but I've got some ideas for you to try.

I write each chapter as a separate file, and then I keep a log sheet where I enter the word count of each chapter in order to maintain a running total. An average of 5,000 words per chapter is pretty typical for category romance, so keeping that in mind as we write means not going too far off track. (Before I learned to do that, I once had to chop 20,000 words out of a finished manuscript. NOT easy, when it was supposed to end up at 55,000. The Reader's Digest Condensed Version -- though it was a stronger story for the cutting, in the end.)

If you've not sure where scenes go, perhaps it would be wise to start writing each scene in a new file, and then when you're finished, you can do a copy and paste into the main document. You'd still have the original if you needed it.

Another thing I sometimes do when I'm plotting is make a list of events in the order I think they happen, to serve as a sort of checklist. The magic here though is to use only the left half of the sheet of paper for the list -- draw a line down the middle, and that leaves the right hand half blank for the inevitable additions and changes and extra notes.

As for going back to fill in scenes -- though it's a pain, it's usually well worth the effort. In the example Christine cites of Suzie Q's car dying and the hero rescuing her, the scene of the action actually happening is far more powerful than the scene of h/h talking about it the next day. And that's generally true -- whenever possible, prefer showing action to talking about it. So I'd say your instincts are doing a good job for you there!

As I said, no magic answers...

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: New members

Thank you for passing the word, Lynne. The more the merrier -- and the more people we have participating, the more likely BN is to keep the discussion group going.

So feel free to pass the word, everybody -- on websites or to romance writing groups, or wherever we find people who want to write romance.

Best,
Leigh
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cariann92
Posts: 95
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Getting it in order

I started working on getting my Susie book in order. All the files were listed as ch 1 or ch 2, etc. very confusing, which version of ch 1 or 2 was it?

I found the outline where I had individual points numbered. I found the scenes to match the points, even separated the scenes into just those points, then took a new disk and numbered the scenes and saved them. No matter the name on scene, it is in order with the numbers first. Then if I add to the outline, I can use 1a, 2a, 2b, for new points and save that way, the stuff will still be in order.

I wrote the original ms at my daughter's house using her computer. When I finally got my own computer, one disk was missing. I do have the printouts of everything - so when I can't find a scene on a disk, I take the printout and copy it, editing as I go. I think I improve it then because I know I write better now than I did in the first class I took with Leigh in 2003.

My Carol book is already saved on disks numbered with the dates written for nanowrimo in Nov - Dec 2003. 55,000 words done.

And my Tip wip is saved with topic of scene, no outline written yet, just plotted in my head. 20,000 words done.

I am now layering Tip into Susie's book, then will layer her into Carol's book, since they are in her book.

Hope some of my ideas help someone.

Cariann
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Anti-Heroines

Brandy writes:
She's trying to get the hero, Ralph, to
renounce his faith to be with her. She
succeeds in getting him to fall from
grace but he doesn't chose her in the
end. I just see her as really naive.
---------------------------------------



I only saw the movie so I don't have the entire perspective on her character, but I saw her as cold and calculating, even in her passion. I didn't like her in the movie when she asked a priest to forgo his vows and turn his back on all he believed and held sacred. At that point I saw her as conniving but passionately in love. Then when she caused him to fall from grace I no longer felt she could truly love him and be part of destroying his soul and integrity. Yes, I definitely think of her as an anti-heroine.

It's been many years since I saw the movie so I don't remember anything redeeming or sympathetic about her. Maybe I'm looking at her a little too hard, but that's how I remember her.

Vicky
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Time to produce a story

Lynne wrote:
Does anyone write two or more books at once?
--------------------------------------------



I know the famous scientist and science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, does. His method is to write on three books at a time. When he goes dry on events in one, he flips to the next and then the next until each is completed. Of course, he's a genius.

I know I'm not that able, but two good story ideas just popped into my head at the same time. A romantic suspense and a paranormal.

The paranormal is driving me to write it. If I pause for breath with nothing more to say for a while, I'll try working on the romantic suspense until the paranormal starts pushing my buttons again. I'm trying to find what methods work best for me.
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Questions for Leigh

What kind of stories do divorced couples who are reuniting over a funeral play in when one of them is still attracted to the other? I have a paranormal in mind. The hero will either be the heroines divorced husband or her brother-in-law. What elements can believably bring them together again?

Vicky
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Are there any cliche heroine or hero types? I'm thinking they're so overdone, the editor is tempted to throw the script in the trash the moment it's opened. If so, what are they? Is there any way to write them out of the cliche area with a new approach, providing one can think of it? If so, how would I try to go about it? I'm thinking in terms of the future when I try to edit and finish some of my old partials. I'd like to know which ones to "burn" or put in the trash.

Vicky
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Vicky you're so lucky to have two stories pop into your head at once! I have to work at mine to get them right. Last week I thought I'd work on two at once, but now I'm going to stick at one at a time. I just think I'd be taking on too much and in danger of finishing neither.
I did put this group on two lists, but we don't seem to have any new people, or perhaps they're lurking for a while. Is there any way to count the number of hits?
Lynne
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Reuniting a divorced couple

Good question -- about what kind of stories we can do involving a divorced couple getting back together. Again, we come back to the one unbreakable rule of romance writing -- we have to make the reader believe it, and make the reader sympathetic to it, and then we can do any darn thing we please.

The first thing is, what separated them and caused the divorce? If the problem was important enough to break them up, how will you solve it now to let them get back together?

If he cheated on her, or vice-versa, it's going to be hard to make that into a happy ending, because if he was careless enough of her feelings then, the reader's going to be hard to convince that he's learned a lesson. (I'm not saying you can't do it, only that it's going to be a challenge.) If it was just a misunderstanding (she thought he cheated but he didn't really) then how did it get so far out of hand that they actually split over it, instead of talking?-- and do they just look immature and stupid? Being immature and stupid ten years ago isn't any crime, and we can overcome it if they're not still immature and stupid now. But if they're still failing to communicate, or he's trying to explain and she won't let him, that's going to be a tough sell. And the more emphasis we put on what happened ten years ago, the more immature and stupid they look -- so probably it's better to skimp on the details, in that situation.

So what kinds of things can bring them together again? Family things -- maybe his mother always loved her, and now she's ill and wants to see the ex daughter-in-law again. Or maybe they're both named in the will of a relative who never got around to changing it. Or business things -- maybe they're still dealing with a business in common, or they still own a house they haven't been able to sell.

Anybody else want to toss in suggestions, here?

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Cliche heroes/heroines -- name your favorites here!

Vicky, I don't think there are cliche heroes and heroines so much as there are cliche situations and plots. Heroine slamming into hero (especially when he's like a wall); meeting when their cars collide; her falling off a ladder/step/wall/chair and he catches her; dropping her purse and he helps her pick up all her embarrassing goodies like BC pills and tampons...

Though, now that I think of it, there are some cliche characters as well. The twins who are so identical they can sub for each other; the highwayman who's really an aristocrat; the girl posing as a guy...

Now, that's not to say those things haven't been done successfully, and they will be done successfully again, too. But they've been used so often that it's hard to find a fresh, new twist so the scene doesn't just look like a bad, lazy repetition.

Any of those overused scenes will make editors roll their eyes -- partly because they see so many of them -- and quite possibly put the manuscript aside. But the real reason editors are turned off by cliches is that the existence of those tired plot devices says that ths author hasn't read enough romance to learn the cliches, so that person is less likely to be able to pull off a story that readers will find fresh and new.

The best way to avoid cliches is to read a lot, and talk to other readers about things that they see too much of. Let's start a thread -- what plot conventions have you seen so many times that you'll shriek if you see it again?

Happy writing,
Leigh
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dixielandgrl
Posts: 285
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Cliche heroes/heroines -- name your favorites here!

The exiled son- over and over and over.

The aristocratic highwayman is a turn off for me now.

The regency man afraid to be "compromised " into marriage- Very real, but it's been done to death.

Anyone else? There's gotta be a million of em.
"If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armor should not be:" Thomas Campion
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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Cliche heroes/heroines -- name your favorites here!

My pet hated plot line is the I hate him - I hate him - I LOVE him run. I've read (and seen) so many stories where the heroine had every reason in the world to hate (actually hate) the hero and then suddenly she's in love with him and he's still the same guy. Arg.

So, the aristo highwayman is out, eh? There's 100,000 words down the drain. I'll just keep telling myself that it was an interesting exercise and a valuable experience. :smileywink:
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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Time Travel Changes

[ Edited ]
The board hates me.

Message Edited by ChristineM on 02-05-200701:39 PM

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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Time Travel Changes

[ Edited ]

ElleCarroll wrote:
Back from the conference, beaten and battered, but inspired.

One of my consult agents wants me to split my submission into two books --- forget the time travel aspect --- make one a contemporary (I have an "extremely strong premise that she could sell" and, she "definitely hopes that I will take her suggestion" to write it into a contemporary during the next three months) and the other, a historical.

The second consult agent felt that paranormal vampires are trending out and time travel is trending back in, but, she doesn't acquire time travels (even though the conference post had stated that she did, which is why I decided to go with her as one of my one-on-ones).

The "advance read" editor did not finish reading or critiquing my submission, and critiqued it on the basis the story was a contemporary (although I had defined it as a time travel in the submission description). Her suggestion was I had "given away too much too soon," and perhaps I "shouldn't let the reader know the heroine dies". When I told her gently the entry was a time travel romance, and the heroine needed to get back to the past in some way, the editor blushed from her collarbone to her hairline, and said she was not acquiring time travels (even though the conference post had stated her editorial team was acquiring submissions in the genre --- again, one of the main reasons I had selected her for one of my reviews. The odd part about the entire episode was that I had registered early for the conference and was able to get all of the one-on-one interviews I had requested after I had carefully researched category acquisitions bios). One of the other reasons I had submitted to her was because she is an acquisitions editor for MIRA in Toronto, and I felt the skillbuilding and critiquing from Leigh's on-line classes had given my writing a "Harlequin patina". (The editor did comment my entry seemed to be "more suitable for one of the other Harlequin lines, but not for MIRA" --- perhaps I should consider that possibility as an avenue for submission).

And finally, I did receive a "request to submit" a partial --- three chapters and synopsis --- from an editor I met "at large" while mingling among the wine and cheese platters.

I also received lots of info about marketing books and networking on the internet in the "new way': blogs, POD, website design, linking, article writing, etc. All in all, I found the conference to be very informative and well worth the investment.

However, my unresolved dilemma remains concerning the suggested changes to my manuscript --- do I do the splits, submit as is, or sit on it?

Any suggestions?

Linda H.


Sorry I didn't get around to this sooner. I kept meaning to and then I couldn't remember where the post was.

Anyway, I figure any time an editor or agent asks for a reasonable change I jump right on it and get it changed and back in their hands before they have time to forget I was the one in the green sweater. The request to split your time travel romance into one contemp and one historical doesn't sound all that unreasonable. (After all they didn't want it changed to an amnesia story, right?) Plus, once you do the split, you've got 2 books for the price of one.

And as for the editor who told you vampires were trending out, just remember an A&R guy refused to sign the Beatles because he felt that rock bands were on their way out. And even if they are and no one will touch your MS with a 10 foot pole (for now) you gained valuable experience writing and editing it. The saying among horsey types is that you have to fall off 7 times before you're considered a rider. There's got to be an equivocal saying for writers.

Congratulations on the headway you did make. It takes a lot of courage to actually go face to face and the fact that you got positive feedback is great. And thanks for posting it because I think we can all learn from your adventures.

Message Edited by ChristineM on 02-05-200701:37 PM

Message Edited by ChristineM on 02-05-200701:38 PM

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staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Hi Leigh!
I am just starting out with this, and am trying to orientate myself to the group and different threads. I have a question, and I apologize if it has already been asked and I haven't yet come across it.

Is it better to write a story all the way through, then go back and perfect it, or do you edit it, and make each scene as "perfect" as you can as you write?

I find myself writing along, maybe several chapters just flow right out, then I go back to look at something that I've referred to and feel the need to rewrite it or change words. I feel I've rewritten the first chapter a hundred times!! I don't know that I will ever get to the end even though I have the whole story outlined! Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks,
Angela
"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BREATHING & LOVING YOU; I WOULD TAKE MY LAST BREATH TO SAY "I LOVE YOU""
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Time Travel Changes

Splitting the story into two, a contemporary and a historical? What the editor/agent feedback says to me is that the story is so complex that it would play better if you weren't trying to do it all with one manuscript -- and I think that's valuable feedback to consider. Also flattering, that the editor/agent feels you have such a strong voice and storylines that you could make two books out of it.

Good luck!
Leigh
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