In my August 11th appearance on this page, I talked about attending the 37th Annual Conference of Romance Writers of America. Despite some pro and con controversy about the value of membership in this organization, in my opinion, the group does strive to support romance authors in their craft and their career, from those just emerging and pre-published to multi-published masters. Many commenters on August 11th asked me to share what I learned in some of the many workshops.
So let’s begin….
In all the sessions on the craft of writing, the message was the same. Emotion is the takeaway readers seek, especially from a romance novel. They want to be invested, to feel or empathize with the characters. Maybe relive a treasured memory through the story.
The first workshop I attended was Seducing Your Readers in Chapter 1, presented by Michael Hauge.
The tease and bio go something like this…
Salvaging a novel with a weak opening is next to impossible. Never try to “grab” your reader at the beginning of your novel. You must seduce them, draw them into your world, create empathy for your heroine, set the tone for your story, introduce immediate conflict, lay the groundwork for your heroine’s arc, and foreshadow what lies ahead. This presentation will reveal how to compel your readers to keep turning the page.
Michael Hauge is a story consultant, author, and lecturer who has consulted on projects for every major Hollywood studio, including films starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Kirsten Dunst, Robert Downey Jr., and Morgan Freeman. He is the author of Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds, and has presented his lectures and workshops to more than 50,000 writers and filmmakers around the world.
My initial decision to sit in on this one was mainly prompted an author friend who exclaimed how attending a presentation of his a few years ago was so eye opening for her, it changed her writing life forever. You could say I bought into her enthusiasm, the emotion she projected.
Suffice it to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
One element of writing he shared, I’d heard before. In framing characters, a writer needs to begin with the wound. An event or ongoing painful situation she believes she’s over, that still determines her behavior.
The hero, of course, needs to come to understand this, and her.
According to Mr. Hauge, the primary reason a manuscript fails to resonate with editors, and therefore receives a rejection slip, is because the hero and heroine have no real reason to be together, except for the fact the writer wants them to be.
Kind of like – I love you because we are in this book together. Not very compelling, or interesting.
My main takeaway from the session is the core of the following paragraph.
The reason the hero is the heroine’s destiny is because he’s the only guy who sees her beneath her identity and connects with her at her essence. He sees her true self and connects to her on that level.
Did your heart beat a little faster? A contented sigh emerge? Me too!
The need for a deep and unique connection between two souls is a dynamic that has stayed with me, one that I’ll think about, and try to inject into my writing in every interaction between my hero and heroine.
Emotion. Deep, heartfelt emotion.
Hopefully, mission accomplished in my September 29, 2017 release On the Surface.
It’s available for pre-order here.
My days to blog at The Roses of Prose are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit me at my website