Monday, April 07, 2008

Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood

Now that I’ve actually put my hand up to take part in a workshop at the Romance Writers of America conference, (gulp!) I’ve been looking through my notes from past conferences and I thought it would be rather stingy of me not to share them.

Please note: these are entirely my perceptions of what these great names were saying. If there are mistakes, they are my mistakes.

One of the most fascinating workshops I attended was Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood, conducted by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Patricia Smith and Jayne Ann Krentz.

And here are my notes – extremely patchy, (you’ll have to connect the dots, I’m afraid). I missed stuff because I was too busy pinching myself that I was actually in the same room with these three stars of romance.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

One size does not fit all

Protect the work! (Your work) Protect it from what you’re hearing (industry gossip, well meant advice etc) – you don’t have to follow one way of writing.

Protect yourself.

Dealing with others

Don’t get too caught up with contests, reviews, amazon etc.

You cannot please everyone. Liberate yourself and please yourself.

Find your own path

Craft is not the top priority

Readers want to be sucked into the story.

Patricia Smith

Write with absolute sincerity –follow your own imaginative vision of the world.

Celebrate universal and timeless values – courage, loyalty, honour (The Odyssey is a good example)

Embrace issues that go beyond culture – good versus evil. Go beyond the current social issue.

Create characters who embody powerful ideals about human beings.

Be willing to create characters who are very different from yourself. Feminine, quiet women can write strong, fierce characters.

Jayne Ann Krentz

Respect your writer’s voice

The only sin is to have a flat, boring voice. That equals forgettable.

Readers always go back to a memorable voice.

Voice is not just style. It’s also your world view, your code of ethics and your understanding of right and wrong.


Retail therapy

Ask someone else what they remember most about the story. What emotional punch?

Buy a kitchen timer When you can’t work, set yourself a time limit. You can’t get out of the chair for 45 minutes.

JAK’s best piece of advice ever…. You can’t run this career if you’re scared all the time. And.. The best ideas often come out of the act of creating rather than out of thin air.

Finally her war cry… ‘Guts, ladies, guts.’

I hope that perhaps one little phrase or idea here gives you something to think about... And thanks, in their absence, to 3 great authors.


Nicola Marsh said...

Great advice, Barb.
Thanks for sharing :)

Liz Fielding said...

Terrific stuff from two of my favourite authors. Thanks, Barb.

Phillipa said...

Barbara - I have been feeling throughly fed up with The Whole Thing then I saw this - liberate yourself eh? That's what I need. Thank you so much for sharing this advice.

P x