So How Did You Get From Reader To Writer?
On 3rd January, 2012, we were snowed in and I complained to my husband that I didn’t have any books to read. He said, “why don’t you write your own romance, upload it onto your Kindle and read that?” Cheeky man. The gauntlet was thrown, however, and I’m not one to pass up a challenge. But there I was, facing my laptop with a story swirling around my head and yet I didn’t have a clue how to start. Not only that, what about plot, characterisation, and hell, what about punctuation? I was a reader, not a writer – a reader who’d left school a long time ago. My memories of writing involved my English teacher handing back painstakingly written, much-agonised over essays with more red ink on them than blood on a butcher’s block.
What was I to do if I wanted to write a romance novel? Living near a small town in a rural community meant there weren’t Creative Writing courses on my doorstep. Writer’s groups in my area focused on poetry and literary fiction, and although I met several lovely people, I didn’t learn much about writing novels. Determined to finish the book I’d begun on 3rd January—a romance set in Brazil which one day I’ll dust off and polish—I hunkered down each night after the children were in bed and wrote until I got to ‘the end’ .
But it was only the beginning. Writing that book taught me that I needed practical, nuts-and-bolts help. So, after work one day I looked on-line for a flexible distance-learning course that fit into my busy schedule and found The Creative Writer’s Bureau. After completing the eight assignments with very positive feedback from my tutor, I set about writing my first ‘proper’ novel. Like I said, I’m a reader, and one who also likes to study. I needed an in-depth understanding of genre fiction, specifically romance. I lurked on writer websites and made a list of books I thought would help me. Here are the books I either purchased, took out from the library, or shamelessly appropriated from other people. I will return them one day. Maybe.
Writer’s Digest Books
Elements of Fiction Writing Series:
Scene and Structure – Jack M. Bickham
Beginnings, Middles & Ends – Nancy Kress
Write Great Fiction Series:
Revision & Self-Editing – James Scott Bell
Dialogue – Gloria Kempton
Description and Setting – Ron Rozelle
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint – Nancy Kress
Plot and Structure – James Scott Bell
From First Draft to Finished Novel – Karen S. Weisner
Blockbuster Plots, Pure and Simple – Martha Alderson
The Elements of Style – Strunk and White
The 101 Habits of Highly Successfyl Screenwriters
Stein on Writing—Sol Stein
Specifically on Writing Romance:
On Writing Romance—Leigh Michaels
Heart and Craft—Valerie Parv
For fun and insight into the writing world:
On Writing—Stephen King
The following website has been of great help for general information and writing tips: