Talk to me about writing craft for any length of time and you’ll hear me compare writing to dieting. One method just doesn’t do it long term. At least, that was the way it was in my house growing up where my mom was always trying the latest dieting fad to keep her weight down. Here are a mash-up of three writing tips to shake up your writing diet.
- Blank Slate-itis. Usually I have an idea or two kicking around, but my ideas are generally fairly weak in the beginning. Recently, I agreed to write a holiday story that included a pet. The time came in my schedule to write it and all I had in my brain was: single mom, condo with shared backyard, St. Bernard. I sat down at the dinner table and mentioned my quandary to the family. My son looked at me and said, “It would be cool if the dog talked but only one person could hear him.” I now play this game with people I meet who ask me what I’m writing next. “Funny you should ask. I’m trying to do a modern take on the frog prince, but I’m stuck with a fountain and a gardener.” Invariably, whoever I’m talking to gives me a nugget to work with, even if it’s only, “There has to be a baby frog.” Bonus tip: hairdressers are a font of human conflict. Why wouldn’t they be? They listen to people all day long.
- Fast Drafting. I like to write fast – dare I say crappy? – first drafts. I’m not the kind who can type in a draft from scratch quickly (4 pages an hour is pretty darn slow). So I buy pretty notebooks in handy sizes that generally fit in my purse or center console. They give off a positive, non-work vibe that I like. I once read that the sound of lead on paper triggers something creative in your brain, so I write with a mechanical pencil. If I get stuck, I jump to the next section of the book I know or I go to a different room in the house or outside.
- First Act Editing. Most of my rough drafts fall apart in the first act. The conflict might be wrong. The motivation might be off. The characters might actually be mean, selfish, harpies. All of which impacts the tricky middle with all its transitions and dialogue opportunities. So I tell myself I’m only going to edit the first act. Editing just a portion of the book is less daunting than looking at an entire manuscript. I might go over it 2-3 times and print each pass out again and again until I feel confident I’m on the right track.
So there you have it. Three quick tips to get that story in your head, down on paper, and edited. Hope at least one tip helps. If not, I’ve got more up my sleeve. Ask away!
Duffy Dufraine just found out he’s going to be an uncle. Jessica Aguirre came to Harmony Valley in search of the father of her unborn child, which is by no means him. An accident may have damaged the expectant mom’s memory, but he knows his twin is the man she’s looking for. But Greg’s gone, which leaves Duffy the only family Jess has. And he has to make things right. Offering her a temporary place to stay seems an ideal short-term solution. Until she stirs desires that make the embattled vineyard manager rethink his own long-term game plan. Is he ready to offer Jess and her baby a home to call their own—with him?
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Print Book via Harlequin (available January 1, 2016)
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Award winning, USA Today bestseller Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, and the sweet romantic comedy Bridesmaid series. A Memory Away is Book 6 in the Harmony Valley series. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”. Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood’s Golden Age except a lot hotter.”