Harper Collins commissioning editor Kate Bradley, with advice on plotting:
Be clear about what the story is that you want to tell.
Example: Jane Eyre takes a job as governess and falls in love with her brooding employer. But things are not what they seem and Jane discovers a shocking secret that has the power to destroy them both.
Set out your characters and what their motivations are before you start. You’ll already know who your heroine and hero are (hopefully), but what about those second string, but all important, peripheral characters? They should all have a purpose to facilitate plot and not just to sit around looking pretty. Make sure all of your characters are doing their job!!
Be clear about how you want the audience to feel. What emotions do you want them to experience as they progress through the book? Jane Eyre is a wonderfully tense book. The author’s success at manipulating the reader’s emotions was achieved by carefully planning what to reveal and when.
Author Lisa Fox on writing novellas:
Keep your idea focused. Novellas are generally anywhere from 20k to 40k and that is not a lot of words. At its most basic, a romance novella can pretty much be summed up as a story that takes place in one setting, with one major conflict, and two main characters. When you begin, know the heart of your story and make sure every single word moves the plot forward.
Keep the time frame short Things need to happen fast in a novella. A story taking place over a year is going to require a lot of more words. Plus, the purpose of a novella is to be focused. Keeping the time short is going to up the intensity between your hero and heroine. The story is going to be much more powerful – and passionate – if they only have one week, one weekend, or even just one night to fall in love.
Keep the conflicts to a minimum Every story needs a good conflict and a novella is no exception, but what it does not need is a kidnapping and a secret baby and a blizzard and a case of amnesia. One of those things will do just fine. If you want all of that in your story, then you need to write something much longer.
Characters with history work really well Characters that know each other already are really good for novellas, that way their relationship is already established. It’s a lot harder for a reader to buy into a story of two strangers meeting and having sex and falling in love in the span of a few days. It can happen, and you can make it work, but reunion stories, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers—all those tropes work really well in a shorter format.
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So as you see, the advice is wide-ranging! This is just a small sample of the many tips I picked up from last year’s Festival. I think the whole event is a great idea, and really pulls readers, authors and romance lovers together. I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s, and tomorrow I’m going to be glued to the screen!
Have you ever been to an online Festival? Will you be calling in at the Romance Festival tomorrow? And did you find the tips I quoted useful? If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!