I have had many questions come up since I started self publishing from my peers and other aspiring self published authors. The first book I wrote, Gifted, was non fiction, and before I started on the second Metaphysical book, ‘Indigo Warrior’ (which will be out in Spring 2014), I wanted to do something I’d been aspiring to do for a long time. Write fiction. Namely, a romance.
I’ve been studying how to write romance for years. I have been a voracious reader of anything as a kid, when I discovered that romance books always have happily ever after endings. When I was young, I read a lot which included horror ala Stephen King and I turned to romance when I realized that horror books gave me nightmares. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on romance. So part of the preparing to write a romance was all the books I’ve read. When I was young, I loved historical romance, and now I’ve evolved to contemporary and even paranormal romance.
I was inspired to write a Novella (15,000 – 35,000 words) as opposed to a full length novel (40,000 to 100,000 words) because I thought it might be the best way to start. I saw a note from my editors asking for a 5000 word short story for a Halloween Anthology, and that evolved me into thinking that instead of doing that I would do one thing I’ve always wanted to do. Write a Christmas Romance. If you’re a romance reader and celebrate Christmas, you know how exciting it is every year when those new Christmas Romances hit the shelves. So I sent a note to my editors telling them I wanted to do this and asking when I would have to have a manuscript in if I wanted the book out by Thanksgiving. Their response was October 21st. The date I decided to do this was September 8th. *gulp* Could I do this, I wondered? Well, I could try.
I had read many books on fiction writing, including but not limited to “The Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Romance Novel”. There were all kinds of thoughts at how to write a novel. You could outline it first, or you could just jump in and see where the story took you. I had read pros and cons of each. I started by listing possible plots and characters, and quickly realized if I kept doing that, I might second guess myself and never write the book. At the time, a gal I work with said she had always wanted to write a book and needed to read some more about how to do so. My response: “The best way to write a book is to sit down and WRITE”.
Anyway, as I listed out different plot ideas, I wondered if they were all a little cliché and how to make my story different. That night before bed I asked my angels to help me find the right characters and story. The next morning, I woke with a completely different story and characters in my head. They evolved into the book I just wrote, Dubicki’s, which is in the editing process now and should be out by Thanksgiving, as I’d intended.
I sat down to write it just like I did Gifted. Knowing that it may not be perfect from the beginning, but just to write and see what happened. The first half of the book was just my writing the story that came to mind. I had a rough idea of how the story was going to unfold, but at some point knew I had to write the order of what happened in the second half of the book and did that. Now I just had to get it down on paper, so to speak, and do the best I could to give the story justice.
As I wrote, especially in the beginning, I had to give thought as to the dimensions of the characters: what they were like and how to describe them. I know that at some point the story took on a life of it’s own, and I became as caught up in writing the story as I would normally when reading a book. I wanted to know what happened next.
In romance, there’s normally sex scenes. That was somewhat tricky. I went with what I felt and tried not to do too much or too little (and my normal style of thinking is probably a little bit too much as opposed to puritanical). With books like 50 Shades of Gray being so successful, I suppose that is a good thing. At least I hope so. I’m not into the BDSM content that is in 50 Shades, but I like a little more sex in romance then it being too vanilla, if you will.
During my writing process, I decided to enlist beta readers: readers that will look at and read the manuscript before you go to editing and give you feedback on the story. To find beta readers, I put it out there on my Facebook page asking for volunteers and found 4 volunteers who were voracious enough romance readers to know what worked and what didn’t. I also found beta reader groups on Goodreads, but decided to give an opportunity to those I knew (excluding relatives), first.
The beta readers were mostly kind and had similar feedback – not feedback that I expected either. I went into the book thinking the heroine, Kelsey’s character might need more developing, but they all said they liked her and that the Hero, Jason, needed more depth. 3 out of 4 liked the sex in it not being too much or too little (the 4th wanted a bit less, but I went with the majority). One of the beta readers was not that kind, but I figure I have to take it all with a grain of salt. It’s like that when you have a book and it gets reviewed, too. You can’t please everyone.
I’m about to start my second book in the series and am in the process of doing a bit of homework on deepening the characters point of view, and studying up a bit about the logistics of training to be an MMA fighter, because the Hero of the second book is an MMA fighter.
I don’t know that I have any certain formula for writing, but wanted to share my experience with you in the hope that it might help you. I took all that I had learned in all my various reading paired with what I felt and just sat down to write. I don’t know how well it will do, but at least I will know I tried.
The most difficult piece of writing, to me, is sitting down to write. Sometimes I stare at my computer screen and think “I don’t want to” or “This is hard”. But just like tackling any chore or goal you have, sometimes you just have to dig and do the work. It might turn out better than you planned.