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Brandy
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎01-01-2007
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Re: Reuniting a divorced couple

Leigh,
I read a medical book this week called One Night to Wed by Alison Roberts. The heroine wanted a divorce because she wanted a baby and her husband didn't. She had only one fallopian tube therefore only one chance to get pregnant and she was ready to do just that. They are on a medical tour that ends the next day. She gives him the divorce papers. He signs them but not before they make love again for the last time. She ends up pregnant.

Brandy
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Keeping secrets from the reader?

Oh, it's so hard to formulate a general rule -- and if I try, someone's going to go do the opposite and really make it work well, and the rule will look foolish.

In general, though, if the reader knows the secret (no matter what it is) and the characters don't, then the characters are apt to look bad. The heroine may look bad for leading the hero on or teasing him, rather than telling him the truth. The hero may look bad because if she was important to him, why the HELL doesn't he remember? -- surely something should tip him off.

But there are always exceptions. If she has a really, really strong reason for hiding her identity, and she's changed a lot so there's a really, really good reason why he doesn't recognize her, then it could work to keep that secret till late.

I just think it usually works best, if it's important to keep a secret from another character, not to let the reader in on it early.

Let's take CAPTURE A SHADOW as an example -- if the reader knew up front who Valerie was, wouldn't the heroine look a little dim for not figuring it out? As it is, the reader may suspect, but she doesn't know (I hope!) And FAMILY SECRETS -- the only thing that makes that plot work is that the reader doesn't know -- and yet all the clues are there, if you go back and read the story again. (I'd pretty much played fair myself, but my editor pointed out a couple of places I'd hedged, and she made me change them.)

But I'd hate to state a rule about it. And if anyone has examples, feel free to bring them up!

Happy writing,
Leigh
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

There's a bit on keeping secrets in characters in books on Julie Cohen's blog 9th feb see http://www.julie-cohen.com/blog/ she's a new, really sassy Presents writer.

One of hers had the heroine not wanting to be her father's daughter so moving to a distant town and getting a job she's never tried before in a bar. Oz, the hero, a straight up, even staid, psychologist, takes part in a charity auction and for a laugh some mates dress him up as a biker with stick on tatoos & a borrowed Harley. She takes a fancy to him and makes a HUGE bid for him in a fit of generosity then tells him not to change, she likes him that way.

It's great fun!

Lynne.
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ChristineM
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

I hope you read down to Feb 3rd! I got such a "kick" out of it that I had to send it along to a friend.
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

oh, I loved Capture A Shadow-- and I just didn't guess who Valerie was! Was sure it was one of the other suspects. That book was unputdownable. And family secrets too -- the secret in that came as a huge surprise. Those old M&B plots use to be far more involved than the ones they publish now. I really miss that type of story. There was more external plot and I enjoyed that.
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

Thank you, Janet!

As for the dearth of plot these days, after all the reading I did to find the examples for On Writing Romance, I was talking to one of the M&B editors (who shall remain nameless) and asked if they had something against plot these days because it seemed to me that the stories were getting pretty thin.

"Oh, it's all about characters," she said. "Characters and emotion. That's what the readers want."

May I -- without your name, of course -- pass on your comment?

Best,
Leigh
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

[ Edited ]
LOL! Yes. Setting too,no longer seems important for the Romance line. That beautiful opening to O'Hara's Legacy probably wouldn't be seen in today's stories. It would start mid scene --- straight in with dialogue or action.

I suppose the younger readers that M&B wants to attract don't have the patience. They are used to the short scenes of the soap operas and expect the same in their books. Attention spans have grown shorter over the last 10-20 years.

I have to quote that opening here, the language is so romantic:

"It was the first really warm day of spring, with the daffodils poking their golden crowns through the snow that remained in the shaded corners here and there. The soft breeze tugges at Kelly's honey blonde hair." Published in 1986

And similarly the opening to The Daddy Trap:

"It was the first really nice afternooon of spring, and Lindsay Gardner had propped the door of her gift shop open to let the warm breeze flow through. The fresh air added a new tang to the spicy aroma of potpourri, which gave the shop its name, and it beckoned to Lindsay with an almost irrestible force. Spring had always been her favourite time of year. She loved to walk barefoot through the new green grass that was still tinglngly cold against her toes." Published in 1998

But then these 2 books were 56,327 words and 53357 words respectively, whereas many in the stories Romance line these days are around the 46,000 mark

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 02-13-200711:51 AM

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 02-13-200711:53 AM

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 02-13-200711:53 AM

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 02-13-200712:10 PM

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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

Goodness, I hadn't realized that I'd copied myself quite so closely there! In my defense, the two books were almost 10 years apart...

The rich settings and background, and the freedom to explore more than just the h/h relationship (while still always keeping the focus on the main characters) are among the things I miss about modern romance. Since we know how the story ends, it's the getting there which makes the thing exciting -- and it seems to me we've lost some richness in the field. Even long historicals these days feel thinner -- just as many words, perhaps, but less action, less plot, less excitement.

However, things cycle in romance, and these things too may come back in due time, especially if enough readers make their feelings known.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Keeping secrets from the reader?

I find that Janet, some books hardly have much plot these days. Brandy, I love Alison Roberts books! I wish I could get more of Leigh's over here, I often with I could get back editions more easily, but I suppose I have to put up with the library as the source.
Lynne.
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Leigh's backlist in UK

Hi Lynne,

You can get some of Leigh's backlist on amazon uk. Like, many of the M&B titles the used ones (paperback)often sell for 1p. The condition is usually pretty good.(the seller makes on the £2.75 postage.) The new ones are published in the UK.
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Questions for Leigh

How do I bring emotion into my writing? I see it in the books I read, but I can't quite grasp how they do it?

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

How do I tag characters through their conversations so each one comes through as an individual? I just put in part one of my secondary character exercise. I'm wondering if the two people come across as different characters in the conversation. If not, what can I do to make each one an individual speaker according to the individual's character traits?

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

Hi Janet and everyone else, good to hear you can get Leigh's backlist so easily. A mutual friend says her book 'With No Reservations' is her all time favourite M&B book, so I must get a copy.

I have that problem a bit Vicky, I write my first draft really quickly then go back and add the feelings I think the person should feel. I try and feel how they would have done in their situation, but it doesn't always work, sometimes it's hard to feel sad when you're happy or vice versa.

Good luck though,

Lynne.
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Clay's protectiveness

dixielandgirl wrote:
"How does one collaborate on a story?"
-----------------------------------------



I asked Carol Higgins clark that question since she and her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, collaborated on "Santa Cruise." I've been reading Mary Higgins Clark since "Stllwatch" came out. I quickly caught up on all her prior books, then began reading most everything she wrote through the years. You can call me a big fan. Now I'm reading the books the two collaborate on and expect to start on Carol Higgins Clark's series in the very near future. They are a family of extremely talented authors in my opinion.

Ms. Clark told me she and her mother discuss every part of the story chapter by chapter each day, then set it down on paper. They virtually write it together though Carol types it up for them. Carol's books have a lot of humor while her mother gets to contribute humor at these times because her own books go for the throat with her type of suspense.

I too would appreciate any advice on how to collaborate. My husband and I have discussed the possibility with every intention of the effort becoming probability. Humor is his thing while I go more for the serious type of writing.

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

lavenderlass wrote:
"I had that problem too for years Vicky, it really held me
back because I couldn't see how I could even begin to
start. Then I took another book I liked and wrote down a
summary of what happened in each chapter then scene. That
helped a lot, and then I just started to do it and that
helped loads too, and is still helping because I'm learn-
ing a lot as I go. I was surprised to find how actually
doing it taught me loads."
--------------------------------------------------------------



Thank-you, Lynn, for sharing your method of learning to plot with me. I suspect it's going to take a lot of learning for me in the plot area, but your comment about actually doing the writing proved so true once I did my secondary character exercise. While a lot of questions were raised in my mind, many more were also answered.

I also wanted to say I thoroughly agree about Leigh's book "On Writing Romance." Until I read her characterization book and started this class, I was simply basing my characters on real people I know. I have read many other how-to books, but none of them made enough sense to truly understand what I should do, let alone translate a believable character onto that awesome blank page we all face.

Vicky
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Vicky
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Organizing scenes

Leigh, as I blithely responded to Lynne's help about plotting, I didn't realize until the discussion reached your explanation of scenes that I don't know what a scene is. Long ago I read how-to books on plotting which told about scenes, but I never understood what they meant. I tried writing scenes but never knew if I had or hadn't done it right. Will you please explain what a scene is? (Meanwhile, I'm going to look up scenes in "On Writing Romance" so I have some idea what everyone is talking about.)

Furthermore, why would we need to move scenes from place to place? Why are there going to be "inevitable additions and changes and extra notes"?(Leigh Michaels-2/03/07-9:11AM)

I realize now what books mean by learning the craft of writing. Heretofore, I've obviously put down stories as I think they should be written because I've been a voracious reader since pre-school. I can see where some of my problems are, and again, I am grateful for this opportunity to finally learn the craft.

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

Lynne, I thought you deserved to hear this one. I have a tendency to take on more than I can handle. Right now I'm giving every method a brief trial and error until I hit my stride and hopefully learn the craft of romance fiction writing well enough to produce salable work.

What's humorous about all this is while I planned to work primarily on the paranormal because of leigh's advice to work towards completion of one manuscript, and only turn to the romantic suspense if there was a block, my mind did a total flip-flop one morning as I began sorting characters and plot.

The result is I'm now writing the romantic suspense while the paranormal is on the backburner where I have a great idea to take on next. But the romantic suspense just started writing itself and it's going great guns. I think I'm going to finish this one all the way. It feels writeable.

So I thought I'd share the irony with you. It was really lucky I had the two ideas, because otherwise I'd still be sitting there trying to start that paranormal even though it was begging me to work on it!

Vicky
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Bringing Emotion into your writing

Vicky, putting emotion into your writing comes from showing, not telling -- giving the reader all the action and detail necessary so she can feel she's right there with the characters.

Using sensory language helps there, too. Including taste, touch, and scent as well as sight and sound helps the reader feel attached to the character and the scene, and that helps to evoke emotion.

Including the character's perspective helps too -- not just what the character sees, but how he/she feels about it. If it's raining in your story, does your character see it as a nasty, threatening, gloomy downpour? Or as a refreshing shower that sweeps the world clean?

Then the next step is to pause now and then in the story to let us share what the character feels, with enough of a pause so we can think about it and feel it too.

Anybody want to offer some examples? Books and authors where you really felt the emotion? -- and how the author did that for you?

Happy writing,
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Distinguishing characters

Creating dialogue which sets one character apart from another is difficult. Since it's the same author who's creating all the dialogue for all the characters, there's a tendency to have all our characters sound like us, so it takes real effort to avoid that.

People speak at different tempos, with different vocabularies; some use more words than others (women tend to use many more words than men do); women ask more questions than men do, and different sorts of questions.

When we reach for a comparison or example, we find those in the things we enjoy and know well -- cooking, or sports, or kids. We tend to do that when we write, too, and so sometimes our hunky hero talks about recipes, because that's natural for us.

One way to assist is to make a list of the kinds of things each character enjoys, so you can refer to that list when you need an example or a comparison.

Other than that, I suggest just writing -- not stopping to analyze what someone would say, because that sort of care tends to make us lose momentum. But then in the revision process, be sure to look at each line of dialogue every character speaks and make it more specific to that person. Reading aloud helps in this process too, because we can hear the speech patterns more easily aloud than in our heads.

Happy writing!
Leigh
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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Collaboration

There are as many ways to make a writing partnership work as there are writing partners, but there are some key points. Discussion up front of who does what helps to keep the partnership feeling even, so one person doesn't feel he/she is carrying the load or doing all the difficult jobs. Open communication is a big thing -- if the friends or spouses have trouble with this, then the writing may be very difficult too. If it's a set of friends, be sure to talk up front about what happens to the idea, pen name, etc., if one of the partners quits. Can the other one keep going with the idea? Talk about what you consider each person's strengths.

As far as how the partnership works -- who does what, how to split the work -- all that will be very different from one partnership to the next.

A good way to start might be just to brainstorm an idea, and then both write it separately (the first part anyway) and see how well the two versions agree, how each one feels, how difficult it is to negotiate agreement on a final version of that first chapter, things like that. Perhaps try it on a smaller project, or on a smaller scale, before starting on a full book.

It would be a good idea to write down the agreement so if there's a breakup of any kind, the terms are clear. If one half of a writing partnership dies, for instance, the kids may have a say or even half-ownership in the book -- unless there's a specific agreement. It's not pleasant to think of those things, but better to consider them up front -- and if the friendship won't survive that discussion, then that's a signal to beware.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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