Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Is This Writing Thing Worth It?

by Donna K. Weaver

We all have our own reasons for writing, and we have our motivations for seeking publication--whether traditional or indie.
I'm getting older, and I love to learn new things. I don't want to be one of those senior citizens who sees the world through a very narrow filter, unwilling to consider new things. I want to always be teachable. I want to be creative and make something that brings me (and hopefully others) pleasure.

Even now, with several books under my belt and four novels in various stages of editing, I find myself doubting what I'm doing. I wonder if all the time I spend on it is really worth the dream I gave up--of going back to college and getting my Bachelor's degree (I have an AA).

The wonderful Natalie Whipple posted a blog a few years ago that answered this question for me. Sometimes, I have to go back and read it for the reminder. She quotes Adam Heine who talks here about a writer's education. He hits the nail on the head. I especially love this part:
... But what kind of job demands years of uncompensated service before giving you even a chance at wages?

All of them, it turns out. It's called college.

College is 4+ years of work that pays nothing and (these days) doesn't even guarantee a job at the end. That's exactly what we're doing when we sit at our computer, typing a story nobody may ever buy.

It's better than college, because it's free. Better because it's easier to hold a job while writing than studying. Better because if we don't get a job with our first degree (i.e. novel), we can write another and learn more...

So long as you live life, working to get published is as valid an education as any other.

Keep writing. It's your education.
Nice, Adam. Well said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Writing is Hard!

This week writing is hard...

We're working on four stories right now: a republish of a short story, a rewrite on a full-length novel, an old west historical romance, and a time travel Victorian romance novel, but it's slow going on any one of them.

Things we do to get back in the groove of writing:
•do some brainstorming
•do some outlining
•do some character building
•do some marketing
•do some reading
•do something else

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chemistry in Romance

Just what is chemistry, anyway, and why is it so important?

Chemistry is when you can sense attraction zipping back and forth between two characters. It's when their connection is so palpable, you can feel it leaping off the page, and it's an important element in romance writing. People read romances because they want a really good love story, and a really good love story isn't really good without chemistry.

So how do we create that in a book?

The best way that I've found is to show everything the point-of-view character is thinking and feeling. Let me show two examples that I've just made up to demonstrate.

Example #1:

The new boy came in and took the desk next to me. He was pretty cute, with green eyes and a dimple. "Hi," he said as he sat down. "I'm Dean." 

"Hi," I mumbled, dropping my pencil. We both reached down to pick it up, and our hands brushed.

Example #2:

When the new boy came in the classroom, I couldn't take my eyes off him. There was something about the way he moved that made my stomach flip-flop. He walked over to the desk next to mine-holy cow, he had three other desks to choose from, and he chose the one by me-and I noticed his green eyes and his dimple. Green eyes. I love green eyes.

"Hi," he said as he sat down. "I'm Dean."

Did he mean James Dean, total hottie Hollywood icon? My hands started to shake, and I wished I knew how to stop them. "Hi," I mumbled, dropping my pencil. Oh, that was smooth. That was really smooth. I reached down to get it, and so did he. Our hands brushed, and it was like fire racing up my arm. Did he feel it too, or was I the only one?

Notice how in the first example, we read about everything that happened. In the second example, we read everything she thinks and feels about what happens. Which one allows us to start feeling chemistry? The second one, of course, because chemistry is largely emotional.

Allow me to show you a clip.

Click here

This is, of course, from Somewhere in Time, which is full of scientific flaws but is still one of the most romantic movies ever. Ever! Ahem. Anyway, notice all the nuances in this clip as you're watching.

First, as they're coming down the hall, they're both feeling awkward. This isn't because they don't like each other - it's because they like each other so much, they don't know what to do with themselves. When they enter her room, notice how he's looking at her back. There's so much he wants to say, but he's worried about messing it up. He takes some deep breaths. In the meantime, she's trying to control her own reactions. She knows she has feelings for him, but it's illogical. She's a businesswoman. She doesn't have time for this silliness, but he's Christopher Reeve, and he's so dang good-looking ...

When he reaches out and touches her, she gives a slight shake of her head. This can't work - it's impossible. Notice that he doesn't just grab her and plant one on her. He touches her cheek. He's trying to convince her, still giving her the chance to say no, but doing everything he can - while remaining a gentleman - to encourage her to share his feelings. She battles within herself, but then finally gives in to that battle, and then he kisses her.

And through the whole thing - the lead-up and then the kiss - the viewer's heart is in their throat. Will they kiss? Won't they kiss? And then they do, and it's awesome, and then dang. There's a knock at the door.

The point is this. We were allowed to see the build-up. The scene moved slowly enough that we could tell exactly what they were both thinking and feeling, and that's what made the kiss so awesome. If he'd just grabbed her and kissed her as soon as her door was closed, okay, it would have been a nice kiss, but that mounting chemistry is what brought it the power it needed, and movie buffs call that one of the most romantic kisses in cinema history.

Of course, I'm comparing a movie to a book, so they aren't the same thing, but we can create the same types of reader reactions through our writing. When there's an emotionally charged moment, slow down and give all the reactions and let the reader bask in the moment. And then they'll sigh and go back and read it again.  :)