We’re happy to have Harlequin Author Christina Hollis with us today. Christina gives us some great tips on navigating the bumpy road to publication. http://www.christinahollis.com
I wrote this blog because writing is a solitary process, and not everyone can get to writing groups. They are such a fund of useful information – everyone has their own tips and wrinkles when it comes to the writing process. These are a few of mine.
1. EDUCATION – I’m not talking about paper qualifications, or what you learned in school, but things you can find out for yourself. Join your local library and they’ll point you in the direction of any local writing groups. Many writers are insular by nature, but give networking a try. Swapping ideas and experiences is invaluable, whether you’re putting some thoughts on paper for the first time or you’ve just had your tenth blockbuster accepted. Read, listen, learn and then go and try it all out for yourself. Join the local chapter of the RWA (US) or RNA (UK). The more you learn about the craft of writing, the more you’ll get out of it.
2. TECHNOLOGY-Like fire, the Internet is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. When I started writing full-time, twenty years ago, every fact had to be checked at the library. For me, that meant a forty mile round trip with a baby. The reference section was up two flights of stairs with no lift. You can imagine the problems I had! Nowadays, research is a snap as long as you’re careful to verify, cross check and reference your sources. Useful though it is, the internet can also be a tremendous time-suck. When you’re working alone, the temptation to check the news headlines or catch up with friends on Twitter can be irresistible. If possible, unplug your internet/wifi connection so you’re not tempted to switch and surf. Alternatively, consider using an Alphasmart Neo. Nothing more than a keyboard with a memory, it allows you to work but doesn’t have the distraction of the Internet. When you’ve reached your target for the day, a couple of clicks uploads all your work from the Neo into a document on your computer. Then you can go browsing online. Brilliant.
3. PLOTTING PACKAGES – Software packages such as Scrivener and Liquid Story Binder can help you organise your writing work. I’m using one called Snowflake at the moment. This was invented by Randy Ingermanson, who likens the development of a plot to that of drawing a snowflake. You start out with a simple idea then embellish it, step by step, until you have developed a complete story outline, laid out in a way that must make a welcome change for overworked agents and editors. Now for the bad news: Snowflake will only help you crystallize your plot and characters. Good though it may be, it doesn’t actually write the book for you.
4. NOTEBOOKS – Some women shop for shoes. Others bankrupt themselves for bags. My work-related money pit of choice is stationery. Just one whiff of that new paper and plastic smell of a WHSmith or Staples, and it’s goodbye advance check. My excuse is that writers should keep a notebook handy at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. Top of my Christmas list every year is a new Moleskine Notebook and diary. They look good – black and efficient. They feel nice to the touch, and pens glide across the surface of their paper, encouraging me to write. And here’s a girly point: they match. Disadvantages? The price, although the two little extravagances I’ve outlined here are good value for money.
5. READING – AND READING AGAIN – Reading your work aloud to yourself is one of the best ways of improving it. You can discover and prune rambling sentences, cut out close repetition and generally tighten up your whole text. If you’re thinking ‘I’ve been backwards and forwards through this story a thousand times already – I can skip this bit!’ Er – no, you can’t. Actors may rehearse scenes in any order in the run up to a play and be word perfect, but they still need a full technical and dress rehearsal before opening night.
If you can then find someone to read your work through again and give you honest, constructive criticsm, that’s even better. Sometimes when reading your own work it’s all too easy to see what you expect to see, not what is actually there. A friend you can trust to tell you the truth about your work could save you their weight in rejection letters.
Here’s a blurb on Christina’s latest book THE WEIGHT OF THE CROWN.
For notorious playboy Prince Lysander Kahani, playtime is over…Left with a country to run, he draws the line at playing nanny to his orphaned nephew!
Instead he sends for a professional. But one glance at buttoned-up Alyssa Dene and Lysander’s wicked side re-emerges! Wary of his scandalous reputation, Alyssa tries to keep her distance – but Lysander draws her like a moth to a flame.
Lysander is fighting a battle between public duty and private desire, but he is determined to make Alyssa a royal offer she won’t refuse…
Do you research via the web or use books? Keep a notebook or use writer’s software? Share you tips for writing success.
Sloan Parker joins us on Monday, November 21st for a discussion on women writing M/M romance.
Bio: Christina Hollis writes Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, released as HarlequinPresents/Extra in the US. Her latest book, Weight of the Crown, is available now.
See http://amzn.to/vgUybe for details.
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