Patience Bloom is a senior editor with Harlequin in the US, and I’ve been following her blog (Romance is My Day Job – great title!) for quite a while now. Although Patience doesn’t post very often, when she does it’s always useful, and I’ve picked up many a tip, especially on things to avoid when submitting.
I enjoyed the latest post very much, and so I’m reblogging it here. I hope you find it useful, too!
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Five Tips for Fine-Tuning Your Romantic Voice
Admit it, you were expecting my Barry White impersonation. No such luck! Instead, after reading a whole pile of submissions, I’ve put together pointers for you as you write that proposal/manuscript/and even that Powerpoint presentation. I swear, I follow these tips when I have to talk to a group. Be thankful that I’m not singing. Others aren’t so fortunate.
Here we go:
1. Create intimacy with your reader….Click here to read rest of post
11 thoughts on “Starting in the right place and staying focused on your story. 5 tips from Patience Bloom”
Fantastic post, Helena. Very useful advice. I like the tip about incorporating some mundane details to show the every day life and personality of the character, which I might hesitate to include in case it slows the story down. Thank you!
Hi Marie, yes, I loved that tip as well. Another editor gave me that advice once, to improve a short story, and it transformed the writing and made everything seem more immediate. Useful tip! Thanks for your comment!
Starting in a risky place and ending with a bang chime with me. I think it’s best to start by hooking the reader’s interest with a location or piece of dialogue which sums up the next problem the characters have to deal with and/or moves the plot forward; and finishing with a dramatic moment – doesn’t have to be a large explosion – which provides a startling insight into the character.
From memory, and DRUSILLA’S ROSES:
End of one chapter:
“Do they love each other?”
“Yes, they just don’t know it.”
Start of the next:
“She killed Kendra, Giles.”
Regarding my favourite vampire, first I reveal she and Xander love each other. Then I cheerfully whack the audience between the eyes with the brutal reminder that Dru is a murdering vampire as well as a shy girl…
I’m not saying this is necessarily how you should write (in fact I basically did it on instinct), but it worked for me at the time and most people seem to like the story.
I love the conflict of the shy girl who’s also a blood-sucker! And I think there are some writers who can tell a great story by instinct. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of starting the story in the wrong place in the past, and often I still do it now, and end up deleting the entire (boring) first chapter and starting with chapter two!
I enjoyed your short extracts. I can see why readers enjoyed your story! Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for sharing, Helena … really interesting post. I’ll try and take the tips to heart!
Thanks for dropping in, Helen. Patience gives great tips!
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Had left this in the wrong place and wondered why it wasn’t showing! Thanks for reposting this, Helena – interesting and helpful as well as entertaining! By the way, are you going to the conference in July? Joan and I are going from the Thursday.
Hi Rosemary, yes I am, and very much looking forward to it! I’ll be arriving Friday lunch time. It will be lovely to see you and Joan again. I’ll be in touch nearer the time, so that we can meet up. Looking forward!!
That’s great, Helena – would love to meet up!
Fab post, thanks, Helena – good to be reminded of Laura Ingalls Wilder – and to know that her books can help with my own writing.
Hi Kate, I loved the mention of Laura Ingalls Wilder, too! I still have a couple of her books from when I was a child. Great advice in the post. Thanks very much for your comment!