That time we attended a seminar in our pajamas…and learned awesome stuff!

So, every time I teach someplace, people say to me–Hey! when are you going to teach a seminar on how to write a romance?

Good question. I LOVE teaching on how to write a romance. Because writing a great romance isn’t just about a boy who meets a girl, falls in love and lives happily ever after. A powerful, heart-tugging romance goes deeper. The romance that moves us is the one that heals the deep wounds of the characters, grants hidden dreams and helps them become better people.

Makes an impact on our world.

Image result for braveheart romance

 

C’mon–even BRAVEHEART has a romance. Deep down we all love a romance that overcomes dire obstacles and wins the day. And because of that, a great romance is about the expectations. We expect to fall in love, just a little. To feel something when we close the book.

And yet, people think romances are easy to write, simply because there are so many of them. (did you know that romance is the #1 selling genre?) And yes, there are plenty of bad, sappy, poorly written romances out there. But, there are also romances that deeply move us, change us, spark hope in our jaded hearts. And those…the ones that matter…take thought, deliberation and skill.

But here’s the truth..yes, romances all use the same powerful ingredients. How they are combined, along with powerful characters and an author’s unique voice makes each romance a different story. Still, it behooves us to learn the ingredients and how to combine them to deliver that powerful story.

A few years back, I gathered aspiring romance authors together and taught them all my secrets. Many of them are now published. (Waving to you, PT Bradley, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Lisa Jordan and so many more.) But as my schedule got crazy, and hotel prices went up, I thought…there has to be a better way.

What if…what if held the romance seminar online? So students didn’t have to leave their homes. They could even, I dunno, wear their pajamas to class.

And, I could make it cheaper, because no one has to travel! (This seminar starts at $297..and goes down from there. Read more!)

And, finally, with Facebook, I could hang around help students after the class was over.

Soooo….

I’m super excited to announce an ONLINE SEMINAR on How to Write a Brilliant Romance! (Excited? Me too! Click here for details!)

April 21-April 22!

In your house. Or cabin. Or apartment. Or dorm room…wherever you are, right?

If you want to learn how to write everything from a thread of romance to a full out romance, this seminar is for you!

You’ll learn:

  • How to structure your romance
  • How to create heroes and heroines readers will fall in love with
  • How and when your hero and heroine should meet
  • How to make two characters fall in love
  • How to write a sizzling kiss
  • How to create believable conflict
  • How to keep the tension high in the middle of a story
  • How to put romance on every page

Most of all, how to write a romance that makes an impact.

AND, I invited, amazing, brilliant, NYT best-selling author Rachel Hauck to help me. SUPER AWESOME!

Click here to read more about the Brilliant Romance Seminar.

Listen–for the next three days, we have an EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT that gives you nearly $30 off the price of admission. (10% off!)

Use coupon code: BR-EARLY-BIRD to get your discount! (OR, let’s make this easy–click HERE for the coupon link! You’ll see it applied at checkout. Easy-peasy.)

Unfortunately, my webinar platform only allows me limited seating…so, the live event is only open to the first 125 people. (So grab your seat!)

I can’t wait to hang out with you all, help you write brilliant stories, share my secrets…maybe I’ll even stay in my pajamas!

Your romance matters! Let’s write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

Novel.Academy

How do you date your reader?

 

In every romance the key is making your characters fall in love, right?  We’ve talked about HOW we fall in love…how we connect to each other’s core values, and how we complement each other and make each other into stronger people. 

 

However, how do you actually write that journey, step by step?  How do you woo your reader into falling in love with your characters, too? 

 

You have to date your reader. 

 

Okay, let’s just analyze this for a moment. 

 

Remember the last time you fell in love? You saw him or her across the room, and something about their physical appearance intrigued you. It told you something about them—perhaps they were brave, or strong, or creative, or disheveled, or rough-edged. You probably noticed their mannerisms, maybe how they talked, how they smiled, how they handled themselves. Even before you met, their clothing and demeanor gave you a general impression about them.

 

Then you met them. You found out their name, where they were from. You saw how they treated the waitress, or the hotel clerk, or an employee. Perhaps you saw their habits, their music, their tastes in décor, their car. Hopefully, you also saw how they reacted to situations of joy or stress. This gave you a hint about their internal character, what they were good at, even hinted at their values.

 

After a first date, you might have discovered their life goals, and perhaps what he or she wants most right now. You maybe have talked about your childhood, or your dreams, and what struggles you have in finding them. You may have gotten a glimpse at a major event that shaped their lives. All of this revealed their purpose in life, the Noble Cause that drove them to make the choices they made.

 

After a few dates, perhaps you had a first fight. He or she reacted to that fear of getting hurt. In that moment, you saw their history with love, maybe even a hint at their deepest fears, making you think back to the events that shaped them. Suddenly, you felt as if you looked inside their hearts, and if your fight made you a stronger couple, then it made your heart more tender toward him or her as you understood their insecurities and perhaps embraced their dreams.

 

Finally, you came to the place where you knew you had to go forward or break up. You came to that barrier between dating and true love, and if he struggled to cross it, you saw his darkest fears and his spiritual lies that kept him from finding happiness. Hopefully he or she broke through the barrier with an Epiphany or truth that gave them the courage to declare their love.

Ahh . . . I love falling in love. Seeing the heart of someone else, and embracing it. This is how you fall in love.

 

And how your reader will, too.

 

Go Write Something!

Susan May Warren

So You Want to be A Writer? Well, What Should You Write?

I love writing. I love words. I started doodling in a little girl’s diary when I was six years old.

I read every night before bed all through elementary and junior high school. Biographies were my favorite.

But I never focused my writing. I wrote from my heart about my life. Writing a set story was harder. Because it required discipline.

As a journalism major, I had to learn to write within the rules or guidelines. I had to write factual and objective. Back in the ‘80s, journalist were taught to be objective. It was the pride of the profession.

The discipline combined with my natural bent toward writing gave me confidence. I once told a colleague I could write about a pile of dirt if required.

Yet when I started writing novels, I had to figure out what I wanted to write and how. I was reading a lot of WWII historicals so that was my first attempt at fiction.

As I read more and more of the budding CBA fiction titles, I felt drawn to romance. Maybe because I thought they would be easier to write? I don’t know but looking back, romance and love stories is really where my heart goes.

I’m not a romantic per say. My husband is not a romantic. But I just love a good love story. It inspires me to love more, love deeper, love well.

After writing three Heartsong Presents and a novella, I had to figure out where I was taking my career. I had a few less romantic stories in mind. Chick lit didn’t last long enough for me to make a splash but romantic suspense was a growing market in the mid 2000s.

But I didn’t want to write suspense. I liked reading it I just didn’t want to write it. So I had to sit down and figure out what kind of stories were me.

Same goes for you all. Whether you’re just starting out or close to publication, perhaps even published but looking for the next idea, you have to know who you are and write from your heart.

Novelist Maria Geraci said in a recent workshop I attended, “Write the novel only you can write.”

If we were all assigned the same story characters and plot, we’d all come away with a completely different story. There are no new ideas really, just new ways to tell them.

Here’s how you can find out what draws your heart to a story.

  1. List your favorite movies. Don’t be shy, list 5 – 10 titles.
  2. After you’ve listed your favorite movies, write down why they are your favorite. Why do you love the hero and the heroine? What theme or moral lesson is conveyed in the plot and characters?
  3. What moves your heart about the movie? What made you sigh at the end and gush, “That was so good.”
  4. Next, list your favorite books. List 5 – 10 titles.
  5. You know the drill from here. List why they are your favorites. What did you love about the hero, the heroine? What theme or moral premise impacted you?
  6. What movies or books inspired you to write when you finished watching or reading? Why?
  7. What moves your heart. As soon as you see an advertisement of X book, or X movie, YOU know you want to see/read it. List those here.
  8. Now, pair your heroes, heroines, themes, type of stories and see what you get. I always get Sandra Bullock kind of heroine with a Ryan Reynolds/Taylor Kitsch macho man with a tender heart kind of hero. My stories are always of hope, destiny and redemption. And some kind of supernatural encounter with Jesus.
  9. What are your passions? What gets you going? I’m all about destiny. I want people to fulfill the call of God on their life. I hate when people are limited or hampered. So many of my stories are about achieving dreams and destinies.
  10. What’s your best writing voice? I discovered my voice by writing chick lit. When I moved from first person back to third, I was able to take my “chick” voice with me. Over time, with the help of great editors, I was able to mature the voice. I merged a bit with a literary voice I’d come to love and well.. that’s where I am today. Next book, I’ll have more practice and tools to help my writing voice. So will you.

 

Take some time to figure out what you love. A good romantic comedy and I’m there! As long as it’s not too raunchy. A good drama with tension and snappy dialog, I’m there. A literary tale delving into the lives of the people and character, the culture, I’m there.

What gets you out of the house for a movie? What moves you to skip sleep to read a book? Find that in your inner core and you’ll find the kind of stories you were meant to tell.

For some writers, many kinds of stories fascinate them. But if you’re starting out or just building your brand, stay with the story tone and voice you love best. Don’t ask what you can write. Ask what you can NOT write. You have to write this kind of story? Yeah? Write that!

***

Rachel Hauck, My Book Therapy, The Craft and Coaching Community for NovelistsBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com.

 

What if the HERO was the HEROINE? – Turning Your Story Upside Down

I started reading a great book last week and about a third of the way through a thought hit me: What if THE HEROINE was THE HERO and THE HERO was THE HEROINE?

Meaning, what if their rolls were reversed?

Suddenly the book became much more interesting and the one on my Kindle seem kind of status quo.

Sure, some of the other plot points would be different if SHE was a HE, but it would also raise new, more intriguing plot obstacles.

In an historical book, it might be hard to switch rolls. If you were writing about the Alamo, it would be hard to have a man spying on General Santa Anna since the spy was a female prostitute.

But, what if you took an historical event, like the pilots of World War II, and told the story of the women pilots. Or a woman instructor to the new male pilots?

Turn Your Story Upside Down!

I’ve blogged about this before but I think it’s worth repeating. We all know there’s no new story. I’m working with a new writer on her second novel and there are some very similar story points to a book I’ve written. But I know she’s not copying me. Susie and I often have a “like” scenario or two.

“Hey, that was in my last book.”

You’d think we’d remember, but we don’t. Because the scenario is fresh when it comes from a new voice.

My husband and I discovered the TV show, The Guardian, on Netflix. The story line is so close to my character Max in the Songbird Novels, I wished I’d watched the show when I was writing the books! Then again, maybe not.

So, how can we make our stories fresh? Turn things upside down.

In Love Lifted Me, the hero Max moves his family to Texas to take a position as a football coach. I had in mind all along that Max would take over a losing program that had once been stellar. State champs two or three times a decade since the ‘20s. Legendary coaches and players, but something went wrong with the school’s football program.

So much, they hired a guy who’d never coached before to be their coach. That was my first “turn the story upside down” venture.

For the school itself, I figured after a decade of losing, the football program would be broken down, poor, barely holding together.

But when I wrote the scene with Max driving to see the school for the first time, it felt so ordinary and expected. Run down field. Small field house, last centuries equipment in the gym…

z-Z-z-Z-z-Z

So I turned it upside down. What if the school was rich? State of the art? Field house fit for a college?

Ah, now the scene was interesting. It caused an emotional jolt for my character. Why did this rich program hire him? The could get any coach they wanted.

The change created work for me. I had to answer those questions and write a plot to fit my new scenario. The change created a deeper, better story with a mystery and a true antagonist.

Here’s another example. I was brainstorming with author Mark Mynheir one day and in the middle of plotting a sharp shooter verses a senator story, I said, “Let’s change roles.”

The hero was the sharp shooter. The heroine was the senator. But what if the heroine was the sharp shooter? And the hero the senator?

I loved the idea of a woman sharp shooter. So much I didn’t stop selling it to Mark until he was a believer too!

Here are some ways to strengthen your story by turning it upside.

  1. Can your hero and heroine switch places? Can your male protagonist be a female? Can the female be a male? What new obstacles and tension are created if you do that?
  2. Can you change a scenario? A nice wedding goes bad? A first kiss is to hide from an ex-fiancé walking past? An old car is new? A new car is old? She doesn’t live in her hometown but a big city? Instead of going to a traditional church, the spiritual thread is a conversation with a co-worker or family member.
  3. Switch up traditional roles. I had a female defensive coordinator on Max’s high school football coaching staff. Can your hero visit a female doctor? What about his boss? Female? Maybe a male boss would provide more tension. Can your cowboy be a cowgirl? Can you chuck wagon cook be a girl?
  4. Take a look at your dialog and prose. Are you delivering too much? Can you tense up the dialog by not giving the typical answer. What if she says no to a first date or marriage proposal? What if she asks him out first? What if the murder suspect is actually another police officer undercover?

Never stop asking what if? Come on now, turn your story upside down? What do you see?

Rachel Hauck is the best-selling, award winning author of over 15 novels. Her latest, The Wedding Dress appears in bookstores in April. Rachel serves My Book Therapy as the lead MBT Therapist and excels in assisting aspiring authors to find their story and voice via her one-on-one book coaching.