As a writer, you may never want to write romance specifically. You possibly can’t imagine yourself ever wanting to write a short sexy story. But there are lots of good reasons for learning from romance writers, no matter what genre you write in. Most readers enjoy stories with strong plots of course, but it’s the characters and their journey through the stories, that we devour and remember.
I joined the Melbourne Romance writers Guild for two reasons, firstly, and most importantly, for the physical – as opposed to virtual –company of writers. And secondly, to learn more about weaving a strong romantic element through any genre of story I might choose to write.
Jump at the opportunity to write a short sexy story
Luckily for me, within a very short time of joining the MRWG, we discussed and agreed to publish an anthology of short romance stories in February 2017. The MRWG published an anthology in 2015, to celebrate their 25th anniversary. That anthology was a collection of sweet and spicy romance. The authors found it enjoyable and educational, and it was also well received by readers.
I immediately volunteered myself to be one of the authors in the 2017 anthology, and quite quickly wrote the first draft of a love story set in space. Why space? I really don’t know, perhaps just as a change from urban fantasy. I still don’t think I could come up with enough ideas to write a love story set in a contemporary setting, or any kind of story that doesn’t have a speculative element!
The story that came to me is set on a spaceship. I wrote 3,000 words in less than a week – that’s a huge number for me. The story was so clear in my head, keeping it below the word count limit was harder than writing the words.
Two members of my writers group generously volunteered to critique my work.
Feedback came back quickly. It wasn’t bad, but, it needed more heart. It needed a stronger focus on what was going on between the two leads. Thanks to the guidance of the very supportive writers in this group I learned that in a romance – more so than in any other genre – the characters and their feelings towards one another drive the plot. Romance readers want to know what the lead character is thinking. They want to know why they are making the decisions that drive their actions.
It’s all about their feelings and motivations
To be honest, Unfreezing Lucy is a love story that could’ve been set anywhere. Lucy’s still hurting, her last relationship broke up when she was jilted by the man she thought was her soul mate. She’s decided that if she doesn’t care any more, she can’t get hurt again. The biggest mistake I made, was not showing enough of Lucy’s thoughts, gut feelings and reactions.
Simon, the chief engineer on the ship, has other ideas. Lucy thinks she has cleverly resisted his charm offensive, until he disappears. When she realizes she’s the only one who can save his life, comfortably numb isn’t an option any more. She has to take action. Yes she takes a dangerous spacewalk, to save a man she has stronger feelings for than she likes to admit. But the story is now more about her decision to open her heart.
The whole experience so far has been a fabulous learning exercise. Several members critiqued my draft and gave me generous feedback to improve my elucidation of the romantic plot. The final story is a good deal better than my original draft.
In addition to volunteering to be one of the authors, I also volunteered to help with publicity and marketing. I’ve mentioned before in other posts that it’s with embarrassment I even admit to my previous marketing career. The publishing industry, and book marketing in particular, is something I’m learning on the fly. There’s nothing like diving in the deep end to drive focus and learning!
I’ve really enjoyed coming up with short taglines and tiny blurbs, identifying images and coming up with memes to advertise both my story and the whole anthology. I’ve been trying to use the design software CANVA for some time. Need is a great teacher 😀 I’m slowly getting better at producing half decent images.
Watching the other fifteen participating authors come up with the same sorts of taglines, tiny blurbs, images and memes is also great fun.
Fabulous e-book bundle competition coming soon
In addition to improving my design skills, I’ve got an e-book bundle to create and a rafflecopter to organize. One of our publicity activities will be a fabulous bundle of books to be won out of a rafflecopter competition. I’m sure everything I’m learning will help me in the future as well as my writing group.
This anthology will be available for pre-order soon and will be published in February 2017. It’s a mixture of romance stories from white-chocolate-sweet to dark-chili-chocolate heat.
I’m sure you are going to enjoy it!
Follow all the news about the competition and the book release at #theMRWG and #tasteofromance