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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Researching places, and favorite authors

Maybe coffee table books, Angela? You're working with Scotland, right? There should be some good books that are heavy in photos of the locations you're writing about. Perhaps you could also make a connection with the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce, or the newspaper, or a school, and get someone intrigued enough to help you. The key to getting details is sometimes to say, "Look, I want to write about your (town, job, hobby) and I really want to get it right, so the reader gets a sense of how wonderful it is. Will you help me?"

Nobody likes it when their job is portrayed badly, or their town is made to look bad. So if you can get to the right people, they'll help.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Three-book deal

Typically when a publisher offers a three-book deal, the first book is completely written, polished, and ready to publish. The other two will vary, depending on the author's experience. Sometimes books 2 and 3 are just a synopsis but more typically for a first-time author, the second and third books will be sold on proposal -- one to three chapters plus a synopsis, so the editors can see where the story's going.

As the author gains experience, most publishers will be comfortable going to contract on less -- but it will depend on the publisher, editor, and author.

Typically the author will get a third to half the advance up front (on signing the contract) and the other portion of the advance for each book when it's finished.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Reader 2
Christianna
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-05-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

GMC:

1)How much GMC are we supposed to insert into a story?

2) Can Heroine and Hero have more than 1 Goal in a story?

3) I've been told my GMC isn't clear enough, and that I need more of it in my story. How can I do that when I have no clue what's missing at this point.

4) Is there such a thing as too many goals in a story?

5) Do I have to have a clear goal, motivation and conflict in every chapter?

HELP Help Help!!

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

Hi Staygold, how lovely to have a supportive husband! I haven't any partner at all sadly, but several children so I have to write my own heros, sadly not one of them can make the tea yet! I haven't got any degree in writing, I'm a social worker by trade. In my childhood I didn't particularly write books but I read voraciously and especially enjoyed women's mags, medical romances and jean plaidy plus anything with horses in. I was determined to be a nurse, then requalified in social work because I've got a health problem that made walking & lifting difficult. Anyway what I was really interested in was people and the need to write reports was a bonus, so I did that for years.
It's not till now I'm 50 that I could give up work on health grounds & concentrate on writing full time - and I love it! Except that I do think it's quite hard to come from report writing to romance, becuase I had to squash so many stuffy legal words into my brain for ages that that was all that came out! I'm sure I would have been better had I started before I did social work, but I did enjoy the work and meeting some really strange and interesting people that I'm sure will inform my writing.

Janet my friend sold her book when one was finished, one a proposal and the other just an idea! She's a lesson to us all as she's worked hard to get a contract, like we are now.

It's good to hear about your friend's success Leigh, I find I am so much more determined now that I've done your course because it's so much easier to write once you have an idea of what you're aiming at. Even if you can't achieve what you want yet it is much more satisfying to have a goal than to write and have only a pile of rejection slips for feedback. On that course I know quickly what I have to work at and can correct it much more readily, and that's a whole lot more satisfying.

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

PS Christiana, what is GMC? Perhaps we can figure it out together?

Lynne.
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

[ Edited ]
Leigh, are you concentrating more on tutoring than fiction writing these days? I went to your website to look for recent books and found one for August 2005 then the next and last one was a year later in July 2006

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 03-01-200711:45 AM

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staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: How did I get to be a writer?

Thanks Leigh!! You know just what to say that really offered me some encouragement. My husband is very supportive, and being such a historical romance junky, if nothing else, in the very least this has been fabulous fun and getting an opportunity to meet a few people of like mind. I wish I had found this site when I lived in the KCMO area, I could have made to a book signing or seminar or something if you had had one. I looke forward to cotinuing and learning more and more!! ]
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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staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Researching places, and favorite authors

Hi Leigh..again :smileyhappy:
That is two really good ideas too. I hadn't thought about the Chamber of Commerce idea, I'll have to research into that. I'm truly thinking about finding a bunch of pictures of the area and taping them up to surround me so I can look and visualize at any given time. I've actually been a little bit lucky in that I have a good email friend that lives in the UK and has been able to give me some general information and some websites that I might not have otherwise found.

This story does take place in Scotland, with a particular place and family, and I feel like I've carried it around in my head and in my heart for so long (years really) that these characters and this story line has become pretty important to me and I want to get it right the first time!!

Have a wonderful day!! And thanks so much, for the encouraging words thus far and the good ideas..lol...sometimes its the simple ideas that escape us.
Angela
"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BREATHING & LOVING YOU; I WOULD TAKE MY LAST BREATH TO SAY "I LOVE YOU""
Contributor
staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Hi Lynne!
We are very much alike I think, in that I was a single Mom for 10 years and I think it just gave me even more reason to sink into my passion of historical romance novels to find that perfect hero I didn't have in real life. I have been very very blessed in my husband, who has truly taught me that "happily ever afters" can happen. He's been my cheering squad and challenger when I drag my feet. I was a pediatric nurse for 15 years, not the career of choice for me, but I did love working with the kids. I just let my license expire for the very first time, VERY hard to do since it truly was our bread and butter for years, to force myself to let go and start pursuing what I truly have an interest in. But, I think its our life experiences that give us the compassion and PASSION to be able to write romance. What do you think? Our kids are all grown now, but we're jumping back into the fire with one more that we're adopting. LOL...should be a challenge starting all over at our ages. But, my husband is still insisting that I have "me time" and work on my writing (I think he's just looking for a good excuse for playtime with the baby :smileywink: )

Leigh...I was just wondering, could you give me, someone just starting out, an idea of
what the process is to getting published? Like, say for instance, you have a completed novel (long way off yet) that you'd like to submit. Do you get an editor, do you just get a list of publishers and submit manuscripts?? I truly have no idea how it works. I think for first time writers it would have to be one part skill and a big serving of one part luck :smileyhappy:

I hope everyone is having a great day! It's a chilly one here in the northlands...but the sun is shining!
Angela
"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BREATHING & LOVING YOU; I WOULD TAKE MY LAST BREATH TO SAY "I LOVE YOU""
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Angela we are quite alike aren't we? It's so lovely to hear about your husband after being single 10 years, I'd love to have a husband, but I think what I've done is been very reclusive for the time I've been alone and even when I have met men I've been so tied up in work & family things I haven't given them time to get to know me. I'm 50 now and had my last baby @ 42, it was a short marriage and planned baby but my husband was very quickly awful to me, exactly the opposite of yours. it is scary letting your licence lapse, I just renewed my registration but I hope I don't have to use it.
How lovely to be adopting a child! How old will he or she be? I'm sure all these life experiences help our writing.

With writing fiction how I think it goes is that you write three chapters and a synopsis and send it to agents hoping they'll take you on and ask for the rest of the book, then try to sell it on your behalf to publishers. Only Harlequin, (mills & boon in the uk) take unagented manuscripts, I think they don't pay agents commission because they don't negotiate fees as other publishers do. In the uk we have a good book 'From Pitch to Publication' By Carole ??? I forget, which is highly recommended as a guide. Also,Leigh's course is excellent for learning the craft (www.writingclasses.com) and membership of the romance writers, I forget what you call it in America, its Romantic Novelists Association in the uk. Anyway, they are wonderful, an invaluable source of help, friendship and guidance.

Leigh will put me right I'm sure if I've forgotton something, lovely to 'meet' you though, Lynne.
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Goals, Motivation, Conflict

Hi, Christianna -- It's a little hard to talk about character goals, motivation, and conflict in the abstract, but I'll give it a shot.

GMC is a writing method which has a lot to recommend it. But like all writing methods, it's simply one way to organize material; it's not the only way, and it doesn't work well for all writers.

The good thing about it is that it helps us to organize our stories by thinking about what our characters want (goal), why they want it (motivation) and what keeps them from getting it (conflict) -- and those are the things that make stories exciting.

A story about a character who was just drifting along without needing or wanting anything, or without anybody standing in his way, wouldn't be a very interesting character.

However, it's really impossible to dictate a specific amount of GMC for a story. Certainly a hero or heroine can have more than one goal, though it's usually best if their various goals are related, rather than being a collection of very different things.

I think if you look at GMC as a tool, rather than as a rigid framework, you'll find it works better for you. For instance, it's certainly wise for the main character to have something to work toward in every scene, but that doesn't always need to be a huge thing.

You might find it helpful to review the sections we've already posted here on conflict. When we do a plotting thread, we'll get into short-term and long-term problems in more depth, which I think will help you figure out how much conflict you need in your particular story.

I hope this will help you get started. You might also want to post a message about your story, and your fellow students will pitch in and help you brainstorm about your conflict.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Leigh

Yes, I'm taking a break from writing fiction at the moment. After 80 boy-meets-girl, I was a bit burned out. So for the moment I'm focusing on writing non-fiction (not only On Writing Romance, but I'm co-authoring some books with my husband, including one on photography and some local history books) and on the editing and critiquing.

I expect to get back to writing fiction in the future, but after ten years when I was never out from under a deadline, it's nice to be setting my own schedule for a while!

Best,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Sumbitting

Angela, we'll do a section later on, on submitting for publication. It's a big topic and we can easily spend a couple of weeks on all the ins and outs. There are also a lot of details in On Writing Romance, including sample letters and a rundown of the process, if you have that book.

Best,
Leigh
Contributor
staygold
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Sumbitting

Hi Leigh,
Will it be here on the chat group, on with your class? I haven't signed up for classes yet, and it will be a few weeks before I can (we're leaving on vacation soon). When do the next set of classes start? Or can I start any time? Cost if I am able to start in the middle? Thanks!! Angela
"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BREATHING & LOVING YOU; I WOULD TAKE MY LAST BREATH TO SAY "I LOVE YOU""
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Submitting

We'll do a session here, in the book club discussion, which will include the basics on submitting. It'll be a while, though, before we get round to that part of the process.

The Gotham classes go into more depth, and because they're smaller, there's more feedback -- here I haven't a lot of time to give feedback on individual work. In the Gotham classes there's a specific assignment each week with feedback from the instructor. (In the advanced class, one of the assignments is to write a synopsis and cover letter.)

The next set of Gotham classes will start April 10 -- you can find out more at www.writingclasses.com. Each Gotham group is limited to 14, and those classes run 10 weeks.

We have some former Gotham students and at least one current one here on the board -- I won't "out" you, but would you like to make any further comments??

Happy writing,
Leigh
Reader 2
Christianna
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-05-2007
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Re: Goals, Motivation, Conflict

My question was on my WIP Frosty Falls from a few years ago in your class. I am still trying to get it ready for pub and have joined umpteen million crit groups/departed from umpteen million crit groups trying to make it the best it can be.

Mandie and Simon want to get out there on the shelves at bookstores and show the world just how good their story really is.

C. L.
P.S. I doubt you even remember my WIP, you've done so many of these classes for BNU, but I do value your opinions and suggestions.

Thanks.
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Submitting

That's me that's been doing the writing class since January, and sadly for me it's almost finished. It has been absolutly wonderful, I've really enjoyed it as the rest of the class have, I've learnt so much, improved loads and really enjoyed it. I think it brings the writing books alive, you get to try each aspect of the craft of writing and get feedback on it very quickly, much like we do here only in more detail and on longer pieces than you can post here.

I've also used it to work on my book and have found out my faults without having to submit the whole m/s for critique. I don't think you need to have the whole thing critiqued at first, I found out my pov is faulty on an excerpt (amongst other things), now it's pointed out to me I can see it through the whole manuscript, but because I've still got other problems I'm doing the course all over again.

It's also loads of fun, every week we have a 'meeting' on the computer which is like an after school chat. We use the chat room and there are people from all over the world and we chat about all sorts of things - writing, stories, food, men, all sorts. It's been a great social life. If you want more info do email me, I'm writing an article for the RNA UK because not a lot of people know about it over here. I was looking for something like that and asked online, but no-one knew of anything, so when I found it I was delighted, it was just what I wanted and has been great. I'm booking on again as quite a lot of people do it more than once to work on different books!

Hope to see you over there! Lynne.
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2weevils
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Getting Started

Hi all...I am new to this board, but not to Leigh's work. I have taken her online class and have made many attempts at starting a book. But that is my problem...I can get started. I have a great H/H and an "idea" of them and what I want to happen, but that is as far as I can get. I don't know if I am psyching myself out or I just don't have a concrete enough idea, but I am tired of it honestly. I would like to take one set of characters and their story and make it work the whole way through.

Do you have any tips Leigh? I have your book (Creating Romantic Characters) but don't know where to start.

HELP!

Christianne
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Goals, Motivation, Conflict

Leigh said:"... it's certainly wise for the main character to have something to work toward in every scene, but that doesn't always need to be a huge thing."

I think GMC is a good start when planning the overall story. It means your plot is driven by character decisions rather than things just happening to your characters (Read Goal, Conflict, Motivation by Debra Dixon for a thorough explanation of how to use the method)

An extension of this is to build individual scenes by using goal, conflict, disaster (for the viewpoint character). The disaster doesn't have to be a true disaster more of a complication. (Jack Bickham has written a book explaining this) Does anybody here use this to help them plan their scenes?
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Getting Started-- and keeping going

Hi, Christianne -- You're certainly not alone in suffering the phenomenon of starting to write a story and then losing interest. It happens to most writers.

Sometimes it's just a matter of the excitement ebbing (this great new idea starts to look like work, and it gets a bit confusing to see how to make it work, and so the next great new idea becomes very tempting).

But it can also be that you've got a couple of neat characters but they don't have any conflict. They might have problems galore, but no tension between them. Or they might have no reason to stay in the situation. Any of those things can doom a story.

Another thing that can doom a story is if I just don't care about the characters -- which usually happens if they're angry for inadequate reason or they just aren't fun.

So you might look at those things -- do your characters have something going on that will make you and the reader want to see them solve it? Do they have tension between them? Do they have to stay in the situation you've put them in, or could they just walk away? Are they people you care about?

If all those things are working, then it's probably just honeymoon syndrome -- as in, the honeymoon being over. Keep on writing for a while, and the odds are pretty good the excitement will come back. Sounds like black magic, but it works!

Happy writing,
Leigh
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