writing tips

A brilliant book of writing tips by romance and mystery authors

In August last year my author friend JQ Rose invited me and several others to share our favourite writing tips in a series of posts running on her blog from October to February.

jq rose, writing tips, helena fairfax, romance, mysteryJQ Rose had had the brilliant idea of eventually collating the posts, editing our articles, and turning our collected tips into an e-book. After a LOT of hard work on JQ’s part, I’m delighted to say that the e-book, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Tips on the Writing Process, Publishing and Marketing, is now available from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

I was thrilled to join such a lovely crowd of authors who are generously sharing their experience. JQ Rose will be donating proceeds from the book to local libraries, so it’s also all in a very worthy cause and well worth downloading.

If you’d like a little taster, I’ve copied here one of my tips on writing, which is included in the ebook.

* * * *

CHARACTER and STRUCTURE go hand in hand when writing a romance novel. I wrote my first novel, The Silk Romance, as part of a scheme for new writers run by the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. One of the best tips I learned from my reader in this scheme is that a romance novel is character-driven, and not plot-driven.

What does this mean?, you might ask. Well, all successful stories revolve around some sort of conflict. The conflict could be James Bond versus the bad guys, or Snow White versus the evil stepmother, or Sandra Bullock versus the laws of physics in outer space. Think of any book or movie you’ve enjoyed, and the story will be strong on some sort of conflict.

In a romance novel, the conflict lies in the nature of the characters themselves, and not in the plot or any outside forces. To give the classic example, take Pride and Prejudice. The title says it all: Mr Darcy is too prejudiced to offer for Lizzie Bennett, and Lizzie is too proud to accept him when he finally does propose. There is nothing else to keep this couple apart, apart from their own character flaws.

When I start writing a romance novel, what I do first of all is decide on the nature of the conflict between my hero and writing tipsheroine. For example, in The Antique Love, my heroine is the owner of an antique shop in London. She’s romantic, passionate and a strong believer in love. My hero, Kurt, is strong, steady…and totally logical. He believes only a marriage based on rational decisions will last, and that passionate love is bound to burn out. As the story progresses, despite their overwhelming attraction, the conflict between these two characters deepens, keeping the reader turning the pages, trying to work out how on earth the hero and heroine are going to reach a happy ending with such diametrically opposed views of love.

In my latest novel, A Way from Heart to Heart, Kate Hemingway has suffered loss after tragic loss in her life. She is determined to protect her young son George from further tragedy, and believes falling in love will only risk more heartache for both of them. The hero believes Kate should teach her son to embrace life and all its dangers, and that only by accepting risk can we find happiness.

How will the hero overcome the heroine’s fight to protect her son at all costs, and enable her to love again?

A great conflict is what makes a great romance story…and the greater the conflict, the greater the joy of the reader when all ends happily!

* * * *

You’ll find plenty more useful tips on writing, marketing and publishing in the ebook, and if you’d like to check out the other authors involved, you can find them here:

Conda Douglas
C. Hope Clark
Gail Roughton
Heather Fraser Brainerd
Heather Haven
J.Q. Rose
Joan Curtis
Joselyn Vaughn
Kathy MacIntosh
Marsha West
Melissa Maygrove
Miss Mae
Roseanne Dowell
Sara-Jayne Townsend

* * * *

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about JQ Rose’s idea, and that our book is something that would interest you. I’d also like to thank JQ Rose for all the hard work that’s gone in to making this such a professional project.

If you have any questions or comments at all, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

11 thoughts on “A brilliant book of writing tips by romance and mystery authors

  1. What a great idea to turn them into a book for others to read – all the best with it! I do agree with your piece about characters.


  2. Hi Helena, Thank you for your kind words. I appreciated all of the authors trusting me to share their writing tips on the J.Q. Rose blog and in the book. I especially liked the idea of all of us taking time to pass along our expertise to those new writers who are learning about writing novels and discovering the part of the industry that is not writing e.g. publishing and marketing. I’m sure we have all had someone who has helped us along in this crazy business. It was satisfying to be able to “pay it forward” to new writers. Thank you for participating in the project.


    1. Hi JQ, I’m definitely one of those who has benefited from advice from others in the writing business. The writing community (and especially romance writing) is one of the most supportive I’ve known. Glad to be a part of it, and a part of your book. Thanks for making it happen!


  3. Hey, Helena. This is lovely how you wrote this. Yes, I’m with you. We’ve all been helped by writers before us. Only fitting to play it forward. Really pleased to be part of such an excellent endeavor. Great job, JQ. I’ll share of course. :)


  4. Hi Helena. Sounds like a great book!

    I totally agree with you about a romance being character-driven. Without realistic charcters the reader can get invested in, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is!


    1. Hi Helen, glad you enjoyed the post. It was a great idea of JQ’s to put all this together. It’s a useful book of tips, and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the process. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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