16 September 2010

Three things every writer should know

If you write Romance inevitably you hear: “Why do you write that? You could do better.”

The implication being that either you’re talentless or happy endings are so unrealistic that no real author would want to write them.

Personally, I always laugh it off and say, “Well, I started out writing a murder mystery, but then my hero met the heroine.”

Despite my reply, the implication that writing happy endings somehow requires less talent or effort grates on me like stop-and-go traffic. However, it’s one I’ve had to answer—and will have to answer—throughout my career. As part of my media-training workshop “Meet the Press on Common Ground” I work with authors to help them give the best interviews they can. I also advise participants to be ready to address three key topics:

  1. What do you write?
  2. Why do you write it?
  3. What is your current book about?

Developing key messages that cover these three areas help you answer the questions smoothly, succinctly and consistently.

Key topic 1: The first is the theme of your writing. Theme explores timeless ideas, is usually implied rather than stated and should be summed up in a few words, i.e. “duty vs. honor” or “being true to yourself.” Some famous themes:
  • Cinderella: perseverance leads to triumph
  • Beauty and the Beast: things aren’t always what they seem (or don’t judge a book by its cover)
  • Snow White: love triumphs overall
My theme, which runs through all my works whether contemporary or historical, is free will vs. fate. Does what we are determine what we will become? This plays out in choice and consequences. My characters make all the wrong choices and find themselves on the divide between gain and loss, happiness and heartbreak, with no easy way out.

Key topic 2:  Although you should never have to defend our genre, you will. I write romance because I like crafting stories that put characters on the divide between happiness and heartache, gain and loss. And it’s this divide—the knowledge that the story could go either way—that makes writing romance so challenging and satisfying.

Key topic 3: This is the hook for your current story. Hooks should be pithy, memorable and focus on conflict. For example, my current book ENTHRALLED is about a man in love with the most dangerous woman at court—the king’s mistress.

Whether these questions come from friends or an agent, knowing what you’re going to say beforehand will help you get your points across without losing your poise.

X-posted at  http://www.caseycrow.com/general/three-things-e…-should-know-2/


Blythe Gifford said...

Excellent post. I know the answers, but I sure haven't boiled them down to a sound bite. (Writes on To Do list.) Thanks!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Keena, great questions to keep in mind. I write romance because it's embodies hope and good feelings and that's the kind of person I am.

What a 'blurb' for Enthralled! If you hadn't had me eagerly anticipating before, that did it. hehe (But of course you did!)