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RamblesRenee's Rambling Writing Tips


First, you have to be selfish.I know that sounds wrong, wrong, wrong. Haven't we always been taught that selfishness is a bad thing? Well, in many situations it is. But if you intend to be a writer, the first thing you have to do is stick your backside in a chair and face a blank computer screen (or a piece of paper stuck into one of those old-fashioned typing machinescan't recall the name). Anyway, sitting down and forcing words out through your fingertips is hard to do. Where do you start? What do you write about? How do you spell Thesaurus? And the basic sitting-down-and-writing part certainly isn't made any easier if there's a spouse and children accustomed to having your undivided attention day and night. Things can get tense when they're suddenly being shushed and waved away. Then there are the friends who feel they can call you and say, "Hey, mind watching my darling Zorro today, while I have my elbows sanded?" or "We really neeeeeeeed you to help design the mud snipe float for the fourth grade Feathered Friend Pageant."

Your answer to both these requests is, "I can't. I'm writing." Memorize these two sentences. Print them on the inside of your arm and read them aloud if you must.

But, what if your spouse says, "Honey, let's go to a movie." Your answer is, "I can't. I'muhwhat's the movie?" NO! NO! NO! READ YOUR WRIST!

Actually, I'm not saying you have to ignore your children and get a divorce. Not at all. But there will be times, probably lots of them, when you really DON'T want to do what you're being asked to do. These are the times when you must give yourself permission to be selfish and say, "I can't. I'm writing." BY GEORGE, I THINK YOU'VE GOT IT!

Now, while you're learning to be selfish (trust me, it's not so easy). You need to decide what you want to write. If it's Romance, you need to READ THE 'LINES' TO FIND OUT HOW THEY'RE DIFFERENT, SO YOU'LL KNOW WHERE TO MARKET YOUR WORK.

I can't tell you the number of contests I've judged when the entrant had no idea that her story was not really a 'traditional romance' or a 'short contemporary,' and therefore didn't fit the category she'd entered. I always shake my head in wonder at the folks who think they can write Romance and not even do basic research!

If you're scratching your head about what the difference might be between a Traditional romance and a Short Contemporary, then you probably don't know what separates Short Contemporary from Long Contemporary either (and, no, it's not JUST length). Not only that, there are also lines that allow mystery, intrigue and fantasy elements. Some lines permit paranormal situations. Some don't. You need to read the lines to discover the contrariety (totally cool word).

Some lines are heavy into humor, some into angst. Do you know which lines want which? Some lines like alpha heroes who are arrogant movers-and-shakers, while some like the sweet, sensitive guy next door. Do you even know what I mean by 'lines'? Many times I've spoken with women who profess to be interested in writing Romance. I'll say, "Oh, are you targeting Desire or Special, or maybe American or Temptation?" You may be shocked to hear this, but too often these women stare at me looking confused. Right then I know they've done no homework. Most of the time those women drop by the wayside fairly quickly. They weren't Romance readers, and were just looking to make a quick buck.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH Ahem. Sorry. Those of you who know something about the biz, know there's no 'quick buck' to be had as a writer. Period! Not to mention that writing Romance successfully is HARD WORK!

To resume: As Romance lines evolve, they have tended to grow more and more divergent, developing distinctively. Your romance idea is unlikely to be interchangeable between lines. That's not entirely true. Sometimes a rejection in one line will become a sale in another. But not just ANY other. Maybe one or two lines are somewhat compatible as marketing sources. Do you know which ones?

Are you a member of Romance Writers of America? There are local chapters all over the country, with a national convention ever summer. Attending regional RWA conferences or the national conference will aid you in determining your most promising Romance markets, and alert you of new 'lines' opening up (usually the best place to try to market your work, first).

I hope these basic suggestions help get you started.
Okay, let's review:
1) Learn to be selfish.
2) Learn your market.
(and you thought you were through with school!)

Next month, what do you want to discuss? Send me an email by going back to my home page and scrolling down to click on 'email Renee'. Let's have some good suggestions! I'm here to be used, folks. USE ME!