So pleased to be welcoming Lilly Gayle to my blog today! I consider Lilly one of my good online friends having spoken to her via email and loops for years now. We have shared commiserations and celebrations along with so many other authors that I really feel we have gotten to know each other well, and love that I can help promote her new release.
Can't wait to see what she has written for us today! Over to you, my friend...
I’ve been writing a long time. But my first book, a paranormal vampire romance, Out of the Darkness, wasn’t published until last year. But it got me started on my road to publication, and on 6/3/11, my second book; an historical entitled Slightly Tarnished, was released. I also have another historical, Wholesale Husband, scheduled to release 9/28/11.
Getting published was a long, hard journey for me, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. And now, in celebration of my second release, I’m going to share the top 20 things I learned about writing.
1- Write and write consistently. It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t a waste of time. It’s work. Sometimes fun, sometimes exhausting, but if you want to get published, you have to treat it like a job.
2- Learn to write a tag line. It’s a one liner that sums up your book or story. For Out of the Darkness, my tagline was: Her research could cure his dark hunger if a covert government agent doesn’t get to her first.
3- Learn to write a query letter and a synopsis. A query can’t ask a question. The tag line can. But after the tagline, the query should make bold statements telling WHO is doing WHAT to WHOM and WHY the agent/editor should care. A query needs to tell:
Who the characters are. What they want. (Goals) Why they want it. (Motivation) And why they can't have it. (Conflict)
The synopsis should outline the plot. There should not be secrets or open ended questions in the synopsis. And your story should not have a trick ending. Don’t pull the villain out your butt. Make it logical. Even the villain needs a GMC. And in the synopsis, everything has to be revealed. It’s also the only time in writing you can tell instead of show.
4- Learn to pitch your book, even if you’re not going to conference. You never know who’s going to ask about your book and you do not want to bore them with long-winded, useless details. Your pitch should answer three basic questions:
A pitch is like the query but it’s usually spoken. It should be six sentences of less than ten words.
5- Voice- know what it is and why it’s important. Voice is your personality and how you tell a story that sets you apart and makes your writing special. It’s the way you turn a phrase. It’s your wit and humor. It’s your passion and it should come through in your writing.
6- Theme- It’s the central meaning or dominant idea in a story. A theme organizes and pulls together the plot, characters, setting, point of view, symbols, and other elements of the story in a logical fashion. Examples of themes are coming of age stories, coming home stories, Cinderella stories, rags to riches stories, Beauty and the Beast themes, good vs. evil, etc.
7- When writing, know when to use dialogue and when to make the character think. Don’t have a character think something and then say it. It’s repetitive. Instead, have an action trigger a brief internal thought that causes the character to feel something. Show don’t tell the emotion. Sometimes it’s better to have a character speak rather than think.
8- Don’t know where to start a story? The best place to begin is in the middle of action or in the middle of a revealing conversation.
9- Use active rather than passive voice. Don’t know the difference? Research it on the internet. There’s a lot out there.
10- Write on a needs to know basis. Don’t tell the reader everything all at once. Spoon feed the information.
11- Don’t head hop. Learn to master POV. Don’t have a POV character see, hear, feel, observe, touch, taste, or smell anything unless he/she can do so logically. Your POV character is not going to fluff her brown hair. Logically, she isn’t going to be thinking about her hair color unless she just dyed it. And staying in one character’s POV at a time makes it much easier for the reader to connect with your characters.
12- Avoid using “ly” words. Use stronger, more active verbs instead.
13- Don’t narrate. The reader should never be reminded that he/she is reading a book. You want your reader immersed in the story.
14- Alternate sentence structure for variety and to improve pacing. And be careful of starting sentence with “ing” words. It can be confusing.
15- Follow up dialogue with action or emotional tags or character thoughts instead of always writing he said, she said.
16- Be logical. Think before you write, even if you are a “panster.”
17- Make sure the sequence of events is sequential. Don’t have your character crossing the living room floor if you left her sitting in the car when the conversation started. You don’t want to show every movement, but people move about and your characters should too. The reader just doesn’t need to see them going to the bathroom or brushing their teeth after every meal. Unless it’s an important scene in the story.
18- Remember character GMC and follow it. Don’t have your characters acting contrary to their personalities.
19- Don’t’ lose your characters in the plot.
20- And remember, a romance is about the relationship, not just a resolution to the plot.
Blurb for Slightly Tarnished:
Victorian romance laced with danger.
When a brooding English earl with a SLIGHTLY TARNISHED reputation marries his dead wife’s American cousin to save her from her uncle’s vengeful schemes, the sea captain’s daughter with a taste for adventure sparks desires he thought long dead.
Nicole Keller has always been headstrong and independent, but after a failed business venture and a sinking ship take her father, her home, and her childhood sweetheart, Nikki must support herself and her mother. But moving to England and marrying Chadwick Masters, Earl of Gilchrest isn’t what she has in mind. And falling in love with the mysterious earl could endanger both their lives.
“This will be your room.” He opened the door and stood to one side so she could enter. “I’m afraid you will have to continue to make do without a lady’s maid. The only household staff I employ are Mrs. Lomax, Dickens, Cook, and my groom. My driver lives in the village as do the few maids I hire on occasion to help Mrs. Lomax with the laundry and heavier cleaning.”
Nikki smiled. “That’s quite all right, Lord Masters. I’m used to doing for myself, and it’s only for a week.”
He returned her smile and leaned forward, his warm breath fanning her cheek. “What happened to Chad? Surely we’ve gone beyond such formalities now, Nicole.”
Gooseflesh rippled over her skin. Her body quivered. “I don’t think it would be proper for me to call you by your given name.” She risked a glance at his face and wished she hadn’t. His eyes no longer looked worried. They were hot—almost feverish. Her skin heated.
“It didn’t stop you before,” he said, his deep voice a husky rumble. Despite the heat, Nikki shivered.
“I don’t think this is proper either,” she stammered when he brushed his lips against her temple. A delicious tingle skittered down her spine.
“No, probably not,” he said, nibbling her neck.
A strange tension rippled through her muscles, tightening them with pleasure. She arched her neck, granting him access as he slid his lips along the column of her throat. Her hands bunched the skirt of her plain, serviceable dress. Her stomach quivered.
“What are you doing?” she asked, breathless and giddy.
He pulled his hands from his pockets and pulled her closer. “I’m seducing you, I think.”
“Seducing me?” Her heart hammered against her ribs.
“Hmm. You’re doing it again.” Then he lowered his mouth and kissed her.
Leave a comment today and I could draw your name for a free PDF copy of Slightly Tarnished.
Thanks Rachel for having me today.
What a fabulously informative post, Lilly! Do you mind if I steal this idea for a guest appearance somewhere? As writers we all learn so much along our varied and often hard-earned journeys that this has given me the idea if we were all to come up with ten or twenty writing tips every time we visited a blog we could offer a wealth of help to aspiring writers. What do you think?